March 8th and 9th
“And while I understand and feel/ How much to them I owe,/ My cheeks have often been bedew’d/ With tears of thoughtful gratitude/…/ My place with them will be,/ And I with them shall travel on/ Through all Futurity;/ Yet leaving here a name, I trust./ That will not perish in the dust” –Robert Southey
March 8th and 9th, I went to pay homage to Paris’ two most iconic sites for art and literature: the Panthéon and the Musée d’Orsay.
The modern Panthéon in Paris is named and (partially) modeled after the famous Roman Pantheon in Rome. The name “Pantheon” means, in Ancient Greek and Latin, (temple) to all the gods.
original Pantheon at Rome, Italy
The original church that later became the Panthéon at Paris was built in 1744 by Louis XV as a church dedicated to the patron saint of Paris, St. Geneviève. The floor plan of the church is in the shape of a Greek cross (square), instead of a Latin cross (rectangular) like most of the churches in France.
Panthéon at Paris
In 1791, the National Constituent Assembly during the French Revolution ordered the church to be changed to a mausoleum for the interment and memorial of people who has greatly contributed to the French art, literature, language, culture, identity, liberty, etc. Among the many illuminous figures commemorated in the Panthéon are Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Rousseau, Jean Moulin, and Pierre and Marie Curie.
I was deeply touched by the magnificent neoclassic architecture and felt great respect for the countless heroes and heroines who dedicated their lives to enlightening and liberating France and the world through literature, philosophy, art, politics, science, etc. I feel greatly indebted to and inspired by them.
On March 9th, I spent an entire afternoon at the Musée d’Orsay, a museum transformed from a former train station. This is my favorite museum at Paris so far, even surmounting the Louvre Museum.
Neither too big nor too small, the Musée d’Orsay holds many of the masterpieces by impressionist and post-impressionist artists like Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh. As I wandered through the museum, observing admiringly at the various sculptures and paintings on display and taking an abundant of pictures, I felt so excited and awed that tears almost came out of my eyes.
Just some of my favorite works of art from the collection at Musée d’Orsay
After visiting these two breathtaking sites I felt a great respect and gratitude to the great masters of the past that has sculpted our civilization to its beautiful form today. I also feel inspired to strive to bring to this world the beauty they have brought through giving my best efforts to everything I do.