In 2008 the Palace of Versailles instituted a somewhat controversial contemporary art program. The first woman to exhibit is Joana Vasconcelos, born in Paris and working in Lisbon. The Bride is one of her most famous works, although this not exhibited at Versailles. Taking the form of an 18th-century candelabra, it is made entirely of white tampons. Vasconcelos is inclined to see Marie Antoinette as a women's lib heroine. “She is no longer the wife of the king, but a political woman, executed for that reason. Her execution was one of the first steps towards female emancipation. Without her, I wouldn't be here,” she says. Seen above in the 1830 Room is the Lilicoptère, a Bell-47 helicopter, which she has decorated with glass studs and ostrich feathers. But why ostriches? “Because Marie Antoinette loved them and bred them in the gardens of the chateau to decorate her hats,” she says. To me, those are the little details that help bring the Palace of Versailles alive.
For me and apparently many others, Vermeer is a guilty pleasure. His paintings are so few and so small that it is hard to get enough of them. I sometimes find myself looking, when we travel, to see if any museums in the area have a Vermeer. Fortunately for me, the Louvre has two. I often wonder why a similar small masterpiece, the Mona Lisa has such a large crowd perpetually glued to it's location while these two small, but exquisite paintings are usually left to themselves. If you visit the Louvre, spend time with with these paintings, the pleasure will last long after you leave. Normally I photograph with the frame, but because these are so small, so beautiful and so loved by everyone, I have enlarged just the painting for both.