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Legion of Honor: Royal Treasures and Blackbirds

March 17, 2013

Yesterday, we visited the Legion of Honor. They have an exhibition of Royal Treasures from the Louvre, a collection of opulent artifacts and woven wall hangings. There’s an inlaid stone table-top that is quite incredible; if you go, be sure to notice the pomegranate seeds…

louvremainThe other highlights were a collection of cups and jugs carved out of semi-precious stones like amethyst and agate and lapis lazuli; and a collection of elegant and ornate snuff-boxes that reminded me of pictures of Faberge easter eggs. The whole exhibition, with its emphasis on rich, fine work reminded me of displays I’ve seen of Moghul art, where a similar dynamic was on display – artisans patronized by a wealthy court, trying to out-do each other in the brilliance and detail of their work.

Somehow, though, in a museum, it just seemed out of context. I’ve visited Versailles once, and there it would have all made sense.

THREE BIRDS IN A FOUNTAIN

On the way in, we walked past the big fountain at the Legion of Honor. It’s pretty devoid of life – the water is too deep for birds, and there’s nothing there. So I was surprised when I thought I saw a blackbird dive in. Of course I was mistaken. There was no bird, dead or alive, in the water.

fountain with hidden blackbirds

blackbirds under the rim of LOH fountainOn the way back, from the other side of the fountain, I saw what happened. The birds were flying under the rim into the overflow gutter, which had just enough water to make a useful bird-bath. I watched for a few minutes, and saw several birds do the same thing.

Clever.

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