The Louvre museum announced on Friday that the full collections can now be viewed online at Collections.louvre.frThis includes pieces on loan or in storage, which is exciting for museum nerds like me who once voiced their misery over the number of cool things museums have kept away from my eager eyes.
“The site offers several ways to dive into the collections: simple or advanced searches, submissions by curatorial department and themed albums,” the press release said. I humbly offer another way to delve into: hand-selected links to some paintings of animals that should spark your whimsy.
- The monkey painter by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps: A monkey, dressed in 17th-century robes and with a paint palette and brushes, solemnly concentrates on his canvas while subtly applying a brushstroke. The colors are gloomy in tone and for unknown reasons there is a gun on the wall. If you look to the left through a doorway, you will see another monkey, perhaps his assistant, toiling on a low bench.
- Jupiter as a satyr with Antiope and their twins Amphion and Zethus by Vincent Sellaer: A very pale naked woman sits among a bunch of strange looking toddlers, while an extremely creepy satyr (typically Jupiter) lurks in the background. There is a cat in the lower left corner, tucked under the elbow of one of the toddlers. The cat isn’t exactly the subject of this piece, but there’s a close-up of his face that you can click on – the Louvre clearly knows what we’re here for. According to the description, translated from French, the cat can be “a sign of sensuality or even lust”. Sure, I guess.
- Saint Jerome in meditation, with his lion, skull, books, vase with flowers and hourglass by Georg Pencz: Again, the feline isn’t the subject here, but it’s the star of the show nonetheless. A long-bearded Saint Jerome sits among his sickly outfit, while a lion sits behind him in the shade with a paw on his hip. There is a twinkle in the lion’s eye, maybe a grin on his lip. What does this lion think? Why are its claws so prominent? What plans are plotted behind his furrowed brow?
- Dog and game by Christophe Huet: If there is one painting that I really wish I could zoom in, take a screenshot and share, it’s this one. A dog guards a collection of freshly hunted game, including a hare, a duck and some pheasants. He snarls at another dog, seemingly halfway through the stride, with a dull expression that can only be read as Who me? I love your funky dog, and I hope you ended up getting some good snacks.