Story and photos by Matthew Woolford
According to the Gospel of St Matthew 13:44, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
It took me hours to find her but when we met, I just could not control my excitement. Several times I tried to walk away but could not. I was not the only one captivated, however, because she was very busy that day.
And that is what beauty does to someone’s imagination: it fills it with positive thought that inspires a deep desire to dive into the abundance of life and all that it has to offer.
And that was what the Mona Lisa did for me.
According to the official Louvre Museum website, “Among her first admirers was King François I, who invited Leonardo da Vinci to France and bought the painting from him in 1518. This is how the world’s most famous painting entered the royal collections that have been shown at the Louvre since the French Revolution.”
From the ‘Mona Lisa’ to ‘The Wedding Feast at Cana’ – The Salle des États
According to the Gospel of St Matthew 13:45–46, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”
And there are strings of pearls to be found at the Louvre Museum. To borrow from the title of Ray Charles’ last studio album, ‘Genius Loves Company’, staring directly at the Mona Lisa is another masterpiece, Veronese’s (Paolo Caliari), The Wedding Feast at Cana.
The Louvre Museum website says, “At over 6 metres high and almost 10 metres wide, The Wedding Feast at Cana is the biggest painting in the Louvre. It depicts an extraordinary banquet with a crowd of some 130 different characters in a blaze of light and colour.
“Veronese painted the scene for the refectory of the monastery on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. In 1798, Napoleon’s troops confiscated the painting and had it shipped to Paris.
“When the Empire fell in 1815, most of the confiscated paintings were returned to Italy, but it was feared that the return journey would damage this large work, which was therefore kept in exchange for a painting by Charles Le Brun, The Feast in the House of Simon.”
In an apparent non sequitur, reflecting on my time at the Louvre has conjured a thought that maybe God took the Garden of Eden away from Adam and Eve and placed it inside a fortress in the middle of Paris.
And the Louvre was initially built as a fortress. I only learned this on my recent visit to Paris. To augment this thought, however, one only has to leave the Louvre and enter the Garden of Tuileries.
According to the Louvre Museum website, “The tile factories (tuileries) that had stood on the chosen spot since the Middle Ages gave the new royal residence and garden their name.
“The garden was completely redesigned in 1664 by Louis XIV’s landscape gardener, André Le Nôtre. At that time, it was opened for the enjoyment of ‘respectable folk’.
“After several modifications and partial privatisation – notably by Napoleon I then his nephew Napoleon III – it was finally opened to the public in 1871.
“The same year, during the Paris Commune uprising, rioters burned the Tuileries palace down to protest royal and imperial power. The palace was never rebuilt…but the garden has survived to this day.”
According to the Gospel of St Matthew 13:47–48, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full, they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away.”
I believe this was what Veronese captured best in his Wedding Feast at Cana. God welcomes the public. He sits with us and helps us to see what is good and beautiful in our lives. The bad, he helps us to discard.
Adam and Eve closed their eyes to all that was good around them and only focused on the negative (Gen 3:1–7) although God walked amongst them ‘in the cool of the day’ (Gen 3:8).
Mary, whose life was inundated with challenges remained faithful to God, and at the height of public embarrassment prayed, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5).
I believe she took the ‘better part’ (Lk 10:42).