The Louvre Museum announced Friday that its entire collections are now available to view online at collections.louvre.fr. This includes pieces that are on loan or in storage, which is exciting for museum nerds like me who have ever expressed woe at the number of cool things museums have kept away from my eager eyeballs.
“The site offers several ways to delve into the collections: simple or advanced searches, entries by curatorial department, and themed albums,” says the press release. I humbly offer another way to delve in: hand-selected links to some paintings of animals that should tickle your whimsy.
- The monkey painter by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps: A monkey, dressed in 17th century garb and holding a paint palette and brushes, focuses solemnly on its canvas as it delicately applies a brushstroke. The colors are somber in tone and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, there is a gun hanging on the wall. If you look through a doorway to the left you can see another monkey, perhaps his assistant, toiling away at a low bench.
- Jupiter as a satyr with Antiope and their twins Amphion and Zethus by Vincent Sellaer: A very pale nude woman sits among a bunch of weird looking toddlers, while an extremely creepy satyr (typical Jupiter) lurks in the background. There’s a cat in the lower left corner, tucked under the elbow of one of the toddlers. The cat is not exactly the subject of this piece, but there is a detail shot of its face for you to click on — clearly the Louvre knows what we’re here for. According to the description, translated from French, the cat “may be a sign of sensuality or even lust.” Sure, I guess.
- Saint Jerome in meditation, with his lion, skull, books, vase of flowers and hourglass by Georg Pencz: Again, the feline is not the subject here, but it is the star of the show nonetheless. A long-bearded St. Jerome sits among his morbid accoutrements, while a lion sits in shadow behind him with one paw placed on his hip. There’s a twinkle in the lion’s eye, perhaps a smirk on its lip. What is this lion thinking? Why are its claws so prominent? What schemes are being plotted behind its gently furrowed brow?
- Dog and game by Christophe Huet: If there’s any painting I deeply wish I could zoom, screenshot, and share, it’s this one. A dog sits guarding a collection of freshly hunted game, including a hare, a duck, and some pheasants. It snarls at another dog, which appears to be mid-stride, with a dopey expression that can only be read as Who, me? I love you funky dog, and I hope you were able to get some good snacks eventually.