The day I didn’t take a photo of the Mona Lisa

On the first day of our honeymoon in Paris, my husband wanted to do just one thing: show me the Louvre Museum. I wanted to do anything but that. The sun was out, the gardens vibrant and neatly manicured in that very French way. It was perfect weather for exploring the city, eating on a patio like a true Parisian, or taking a boat ride down the Seine. Pretty much anything but shuffling through dim-lit galleries and pretending to understand supposedly complex art.

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The infamous Louvre pyramid is strikingly modern compared to the ancient treasures that lie beneath it.

But it was around 10am on a Thursday and, thanks to the weather, there was no line in front of the giant glass pyramid. I figured if we had to do this it may as well be done without an hours-long queue. So in we went.

Despite the lack of a line outside, inside was swarming with tourists in a way that made Times Square look tranquil. As we entered the mezzanine for ancient Roman and Greek art, the first thing I noticed, in between being elbowed by strangers and pushing through the crowd to keep eyes on my husband, was the terrible body odor in the stuffy air. There was not enough AC in the museum. It was hard to admire the beauty of humanity through the lens of ancient sculptures when my nostrils were full of BO.

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The view of the crowded marble halls within the Louvre moments before a stampede of tourists nearly made me drop my camera.

The only attraction I really cared to see was the Mona Lisa, just to see if she really was as mysterious as everyone says. But my husband wanted to show me something first, some “statue of Nikay” he kept mentioning. He had visited the Louvre ten years earlier and remembered being in awe of this statue, but he didn’t remember where it was.

When he stopped to consult a map at the top of a slippery marble stairway, a group of tourists speaking either Mandarin or Cantonese nearly pushed each other over racing up the steps. In their haste, one of them almost knocked my camera, a recent graduation gift from me to me, out of my hands. I lost my patience. I wanted out of that place immediately.

“Ah, I found it!” my husband proclaimed. We turned in the direction the stampede had just gone and when I looked up, I saw her.

I felt something I hadn’t felt since I first laid eyes on my husband.

I felt for the first time that I understood what you were supposed to feel when you stare at a work of art and slowly nod your head. I felt a deep appreciation for beautiful art.

The “statue of Nikay” was actually “Nike of Samothrace,” aka the “Winged Victory of Samothrace.” It’s a marble sculpture of the Greek Goddess Nike, the Goddess of Victory, created over 2200 years ago. Yes, she is the namesake for the sneaker brand.

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This photo will never do her beauty justice, so I hope you get a chance to see Nike in person and feel the awe that I felt this day.

Though headless, arm-less and yellowed by time, the statue of the Goddess Nike held me captive, and I swear an aura of heavenly light glowed around her.

We did go to see the Mona Lisa, still in a daze from Nike’s glorious beauty. But when I got to the Mona Lisa, I felt two things: first, I felt none of the intense emotion I had felt while staring at Nike. Second, I truly believed that taking a photo of something meant to be seen in person would only diminish its beauty. You can Google the Mona Lisa or Nike statue from your bedroom, but that’s not going to help you appreciate their beauty.

I regret even taking photos of Nike, except I really wanted to document the moment that I went from loathing art, to loving it.

And I wanted this:

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The winged Gyuho. He truly is a goose now.

What’s your favorite artwork? Comment below!

Thanks for reading XOXO