The twelfth annual Ladd Lecture was hosted by the Amarillo Museum of Art September 12 and featured Dr. Richard Brettell presenting a seven century history of the Louvre Museum. These lectures are sponsored by Peggy Ladd in memory of the late Frank Ladd and feature world-class authorities in the arts.
Richard Brettell, from the University of Texas at Dallas and with an extensive c.v, is in a class by himself. Yet, he is no stranger to Amarillo, this marking his third Ladd presentation.
Just imagine a combination of effortless articulate erudition punctuated by gossipy humor, a rare combination of comedy and culture, and you have an image of the esteemed professor.
A full house at the Amarillo College Concert Hall Theatre gathered to hear his presentation, in which he announced at the onset to depict the Louvre as a complicated palimpsest of buildings showing an architectural evolution over seven centuries. And, he kept the audience in rapt thrall as he waxed eloquently palimpsestic for an hour.
Some key facts were salient, at least to his listener, presented either as startling revelations or as whimsical arcana.
For instance, the modern Louvre dates to the Second Empire, when it became the epicenter of Baron Hausmann’s Paris renovation, who demolished slums in, yes in and around the museum. Renoir was a child in the Louvrian slum.
Prior to that, for two centuries the Louvre Palace was largely a ruin, with the showplace for art being the Palais Royale. In 1791, largely with art confiscated from the aristocracy and the Church, the Louvre opened as the first art museum in history and the prototype for American museums, democratically asserting that the enjoyment of fine art is for all.
The Grand Gallery began as a promenade for aristocrats and the idea for skylights arose from the gaping holes left when the roof tumbled down.
Finally Dr. Brettell took the audience through the life saga of Marie de Medici as portrayed by Peter Paul Rubens. Though some of the works are adulatory, overall the sequence does not tell a happy story.
A Thursday evening precis on the history of the Louvre and the famous Rubens paintings, out here on the barren plains of Texas: ostensibly strange, but, in the arts, very appropriate.
Our thanks to Peggy Ladd and her family for sponsorship, and to the hosts, AMOA. Because of such generosity and collaboration, exceptional artistic events are, in Amarillo, a common occurrence, especially during the arts season.
This makes it easy to say, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”