Monday, August 4, 2014

Paris 2014: Musée Marmottan

Just at the edge of Paris' sixteenth arrondissement and the Bois de Boulogne sits the Musée Marmottan.   Often overlooked by tourists, the Marmottan contains the largest collection of Impressionist painter  Claude  Monet's  work in the world.  Spectacular paintings, furniture and decor abound in this jewel box of a museum.  It also houses an array of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works (including Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Berthe Morisot, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Signac, and Alfred Sisley), the Jules and Paul Marmottan collection of Napoleonic era art and furniture, the Wildenstein Collection of illuminated manuscripts, and Italian and Flemish primitive paintings.

Established in  1934  by France's Académie des Beaux Arts, the Marmottan began life as private residence.  It was originally built as a hunting lodge for maréchal C. E. Kellermann, the Duke of Valmy.   In  1882 Jules  Marmottan  purchased the Empire-style residence to house his collection of Napoleonic era pieces.

Marmottan's son, Paul, inhabited the residence and expanded it with his own collected works from the  second  Empire.  Paul  Marmottan  dedicated his life to the study of the Second Empire and his own collected works expanded his father's already generous collection of furnishings, objets-d'art and paintings.  The museum's main and second floors are decorated in the Empire style to highlight this collection.  Marmottan willed the entire residence and its contents to the Académie des Beaux Arts upon his death.

Empire styles gave way to Impressionist paintings via a large donation in 1957.   Victorine Donop de Monchy bequeathed her father's collection of Impressionist works.  He was Georges de Bellio, homeopath and physician to Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Sisley and Renoir, as well as an early supporter of the Impressionist movement.   It was likely this donation which led Michel Monet, son of Monet, bequeathed his own collection of his father's work, as well as the artist's property in Giverny, to the museum in  1966.   Monet's donation prompted the construction of a basement-level gallery space whose design was inspired by that of the Musée de l'Orangerie, home of Monet's grand-scale
 "Nymphéas" ("Waterlilies") paintings.

Numerous  works  by  Monet  on  permanent  exhibit  include :
"...the Trouville beach, Camille, and the movement's eponymous painting Impression, Sunrise; the Argenteuil pieces: walks or railway bridges; the views of Paris: the Tuileries, the Saint-Lazare station; the travel memories: the London Parliament, the Charing Cross Bridge; the water lilies, Japanese bridges, and rose alleys that will lead to the Grandes Décorations..."   ( - Marmottan website)

Claude Monet  by  Nadar

Singular in its renown is  Impression,   Soleil  Levant " ( " Impression,
Sunrise ")   1873,   likely of greatest interest to most visitors.  This painting, by Monet, of sunrise, is credited with establishing the Impressionist movement as well as its name.   "...a  thing  done  in  Le Havre,  from  my  window,  sun  in  the  mist  and  a  few  masts  of  boats  sticking  up  in  th e foreground.  ...  They  asked  me  for  a  title  for  the  catalogue,  it  couldn't  really  be  taken  for  a  view  of  Le Havre,  and  I  said:  ' Put  Impression. '  "   -  Claude  MONET 

 " Impression,  Soleil  Levant "    ( " Impression,  Sunrise " )  1873

Originally part of Dr. Georges de Bellio's collection, "Impression" was stored at the Chateau de Chambord, in the Loire Valley, beginning in 1940 alongside some of the greatest artworks in the world, such as the Mona Lisa (click here for summary and photos of this undertaking).  It was stolen from the Marmottan in 1985 and recovered in 1990, "Impression" has remained on permanent display since 1991.  The Marmottan will mount an exhibit,  Impression,  Soleil  Levant:  Biography  of  a  Masterpiece, " in the Fall.  The exhibit will trace the origins, influence and travels of this singular painting.  It will also include a rare "night version;" Monet's painting of the same - at night - via an American collection.

Musée  Marmottan,  lower-level  gallery

  Uniquely, two paintings were most compelling to me.   I spent time observing each - via multiple points of view, listening to audio guide descriptions, and reading details listed in accordance with each.   I had the sense that if I would continue to study them, I would become aware of some additional insight, be it visual or otherwise.  Each possessed an enigmatic quality.  I wished to stay much longer, and disliked having to leave them.  One point in common, both paintings were examples of  Monet's  series  paintings,  for which he simultaneously and repeatedly painted numerous canvases of the same subject matter in order to capture the changing light of the day.

Train  in  the  Snow,   the  Locomotive "   1875     oil on canvas,   approx. 23" x 30"

Various summaries of  "Train in the Snow, the Locomotive" describe it as such:
"Monet's attraction to the convergence of nature and technology..."      
" [possessing] the qualities of constant visual change 
that drove artistic observations"   (source)      
"[Monet] became so fascinated with the railways that in January 1877 he installed himself in a one-bedroom apartment on the Rue Moncey in Paris just a few blocks away from the Gare St. Lazare so that he could study and sketch the activities from different angles at all times of the day as the light changed."    
"[Monet] captures the grey stillness of a snowy dusk..."   (source)      
"Unlike Impression, soleil levant this work clearly depicts an event and a location.  The true stillness of the moment has been captured...short brush strokes give texture to the wooden fence posts and to the smoke from the train...the setting of a winter day ... lack of any sun gives this painting a timeless setting. Monet unlike many of his contemporaries painted modernity... [Monet's] contemporaries disliked the ideas of industrialization  ...does not look back at some pastoral scene as the best time ... he states that now life among man's new inventions is the best and most interesting period in which to live."   (source)

I felt that cold air, the headlights' bold glow, and the massive, bulky frame of the train.  The lack of sun, the waiting...and the melancholy of this little-frequented stop.

Branch  of  the  Seine  near  Giverny,   Morning  Mists "     1897   oil on canvas,   approx. 35" x 36"

Ethereal  and  mystical,  " Branch  of  the  Seine  near  Giverny,   Morning Mists  "  presents  the  mood  as  blue  and  chilly,  peaceful  and  alone.  A heavy mist and haze blurs the line where horizon and water meet.  One senses the early hour and cool air amid these soft-edged forms.  

Nearly each day, Monet rose at 3:30 to record the light on the Seine near his home village.  He painted in a flat-bottomed boat, custom-built with grooves that held numerous paintings.   An assistant stood by and handed him canvases, all numbered, as he painted.   Monet worked on as many as fourteen canvases at one time (twenty known versions in this series exist).  His goal was to capture the essence of the changing light at dawn, and mist on the river. 
  "While some of the artist’s later works are increasingly bold, this painting exemplifies Monet at his most poetic and introspective."  (- source)
"...This version (in the series) is notable for its softness... With the point of view suspended over the water, we are made to feel weightless, perhaps even bodiless.   Almost symmetrical reflections threaten to disorient us, but Monet has left enough clues to let us know which way is up." (- source)

Somewhat ironically, Monet's work is often critiqued as "lightweight" or simply "pretty," without much depth.  Maybe this was true of these two paintings?  Perhaps the depth of the viewer's response is simply a recognition of the scene, and how profoundly Monet captures it... if  this  is  "fluff," I'll  take  it. 

Musée Marmottan, exterior

The location of Monet's most-viewed work is Paris' Museé d'Orsay and nearby Musée de l'Orangerie which showcases his extraordinary
 "Nympheas" or Waterlilies canvases (in dimension).  

Paris to Giverny, is an easy day trip, sponsored by any number of tour groups.  About fifty miles northwest of Paris, Giverny is a small Normand village
dating to the first century, AD.  Monet spent most of his adult life, 
and created the majority of his work, here.  

Remarkably, Monet envisioned the gardens himself - as he wanted to paint them - with their wild colors and unstructured forms, their ponds, waterlilies and Japanese bridges.  They are unique in their beauty and originality.  Try to visit in the spring or summer.  The gardens, which provided Monet's greatest subject matter, are unforgettable and stand alone.  The house is also on tour; its pink crushed brick exterior embodies the charming, dynamic interiors that await.

2, rue Louis Boilly    Paris 75016
 Tel. 01 44 96 50 33  
Hours: Tuesday, 11:00 am-9:00 pm, 
Wednesday-Saturday, 11:00 am-6:00 pm. 

Metro:  La  Muette
Bus:  No.  63 
Bus 63 travels between La Muette (Marmottan location) and Gare de Lyon, stopping at  locations including Le Trocadéro (Eiffel Tower), Les Invalides, Solférino (Musée d'Orsay), and main arteries of Saint Germain.  The bus costs 1 Metro ticket per person per ride and is   a great way to see Paris!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Paris Favorites: 2014

The  Jardin  d'Acclimation  is  located  just  outside  Paris'  city  limits.
It's  also  the  location  for  Frank  Gehry's  new  building  " The  Cloud, " 
(will  house the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation museum).   We  went  with  the  intention  of  seeing  the  building  and  ended  up  loving  the  park!  
The  Jardin  d'Acclimation is located at the northern end of the Bois  de Boulogne, one of four parks from Baron Haussman's  19th-century redesign of Paris.  The other three are the Bois de Vincennes, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and the Parc Monceau.  Each is worth a visit.

The Jardin d'Acclimation retains its mid-19th-century atmosphere in many ways.  
It's a maze of open walkways, low, rolling hills and multi-cultural landmarks.  Perhaps best of all are the endless kiddie-rides, zoo animals, and charming follies.  There are plenty of restaurants and cafés as well (including an outpost of Angélina!)  This was undoubtedly one of the highlights of our trip!  It's  a   fantastic  place   for   kids   and   families,   and   is   off   the   usual   tourist   path.   
Finally, I'd wondered how a Frank Gehry building would fit into this scenario . . . beautifully, it turns out!

Le    Jardin    d'Acclimation   Bois de Boulogne,  75016  Paris
  Metro :   Les Sablons   or   Pont de Neuilly
daily: May-Sept 10am-7pm/Oct-Apr 10am-6pm  entry: €1.45-€2.90  under 3: free
Recommended:   Catch the 73  bus, which passes right in front of the Musée d'Orsay.   For a little extra time and one metro ticket, you'll ride up the Champs-Elysées and around the Étoile-Charles de Gaulle/Arc de Triomphe on your way.   It's easy :  exit the bus at Les Sablons  and you're there!

2.   The   Cats'   Café 

 I    LOVED    the    CAFÉ    DES    CHATS ! 
What   a   FUN   place   with   a   FANTASTIC   concept 
and  delicious  food  to  boot!
The   Café   des   Chats   is  home  to  strays
and  shelter  cats  who  would  otherwise  be  put  down.   

Resident cats,  in  their  usual  spots  to  the  left,
monitor  the  goings-on  in  the  rue  Michel  Le  Comte (above).
Upon arrival, you are asked not to feed the cats, disturb those who are sleeping, or pick them up (if they jump in your lap, that's a different story!)  It's clear you've arrived in their domain!   You  are  invited  to  enjoy  their  presence  
(and,  of  course, the  food  and  drink.)  
What  I  loved  most  about  this  place  was  how *happy* everyone  was !   
Cats,  customers  and  employees  alike,  it  was  clearly  a  mutual-appreciation  society!  (Someone needs to open a dogs' café!)

These two (above) were always watching the front window.  
 One of the waiters called them "des petits voleurs de pain" (bread thieves!)
excerpts    from    the     Café    des    Chats   website : 
We  adopted  our  cats  from  shelters.    They weren't chosen for the color of their fur, the texture of their coat, or the color of their eyes.
As our only criteria is their well-being, we chose cats who enjoy the presence of people and other cats.   Our cats have run of the café  (excluding the kitchen)  at all times. 
Our cats' welfare is very important to us.  All remain in the care of a veterinarian, receive vaccinations regularly, and have been sterilized.  We work with animal welfare groups to develop a happy environment for them; 
our goal is giving a second chance to cats who no longer have homes. "

I absolutely fell in love with "Calissie" (above) and "Ringo" 
(below), who napped in the chair beside me.
The Café des Chats is approved by France's Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Welfare Services, for food safety and hygiene.
This     place     is     busy !
Seating is limited, so reserve in advance.  If you don't have a reservation, try arriving at noon when they open - this is the best time to find an empty seat! 

Café   des   Chats      16  rue  Michel  le  Comte     75004    Paris
Metro :  Rambuteau  cross rue Beaubourg to rue Michel Le Comte, 2-3 minute walk to no. 16 on your left.   reserve  online :     by  phone : +33973533581     Note: the website is in French but you may reserve in English -  all    employees    speak    English.
review :   huffington  post

detail from the "Lady with the Unicorn" tapestry, "A Mon Seul Desir" (above)
I   always   enjoy   revisiting   the   spectacular  " Dame   à   la   Licorne " 
tapestries!   Often  called  "the  greatest  works  of  Medieval  art,"  and  even
"The  Mona  Lisa  of  the  Middle  Ages,"  this  series  of  six  tapestries  is  located  in  Paris'  Cluny  Museum.  Their design is 15th-century French, and their fabrication, Flemish, of wool and silk.  The series was likely commissioned by French nobleman Jean Le Viste, perhaps as a gift for his fiance.  His family's coat of arms is depicted in each tapestry.

the Lady with the Unicorn tapestry, "A Mon Seul Desir" (above)
Each tapestry depicts a noblewoman with a unicorn to her left and a lion to her right.  A coat of arms is also depicted in each.  The woman is shown in a garden or forest.  Most tapestries also include a maidservant and various animals and birds.
Five   tapestries   represent   the   senses.

details from "Hearing" and "Scent" tapestries (above, below) 
In this tapestry, the noble woman plays the organ, representing HEARING.
In another, she weaves a wreath of flowers, while a monkey smells a flower, representing SCENT.

In the tapestry representing  SIGHT, the woman holds a mirror to the unicorn, who sees his reflection.   Representing TASTE, the woman reaches into a bowl of sweets, while a monkey eats one nearby.  Last, the woman holds the unicorn's horn in one hand and the pennant in the other, representing TOUCH
details from "Sight" tapestry (below)

The   sixth   tapestry   is   unexplained.
 The woman now stands in front of a tent which is held open by the unicorn and lion.  The tent bears the inscription  "A  mon  seul  desir,"  meaning   "to  my  one  desire"  or  "by  my  will  alone."   Many believe it represents an additional or sixth "sense."   The noblewoman places her necklace, worn in the other five tapestries, into a jewel coffer.  This is the largest tapestry and the only one in which the woman seems to smile.

Unicorns were often used in Medieval art to symbolize Christ.
Some interpret the sixth tapestry as a rejection of the material world, and an affirmation of Christianity.  Some believe it represents a spirit of peace, tranquility, or a reassurance that Christ will prevail.  It is also associated with free will, love and virginity.  Animals and birds shown in each tapestry carry their own symbolic meanings.  With no official documentation on these tapestries, however, the true meaning remains obscure.

My  favorite  aspects  of  these  tapestries  are  their
brilliant    colors    and    intricate    details.
The woman's dress shows beading, damask and moiré fabrics.  Bouquets of flowers and fruit and nut trees are beautifully executed.   the background is the most wonderful, unusual orange-red.  Blue and green tones are stunning as well, especially given the age of the tapestries (over 500-years-old).  The tapestries range in size from 9' x 11'-8" to 12' x 15' and their design remains true to the "Mille Fleurs" ("Thousand Flowers") style of their period.
"These fabulous wall hangings have exercised an almost universal fascination on all those who have encountered them for hundreds of years." - source

The tapestries were  recently  re-installed  in  the  museum
following an  extensive,  two-year  cleaning  and  restoration.   The tapestries returned to a new exhibition space, designed for optimal viewing, contemplation and conservation.   The tapestries' new arrangement is the way in which tapestries were shown during the Medieval era.  The order goes from the most material, earthly sense (taste) to the most spiritual, or exalted, (eyesight).   -

National Museum of the Middle Ages - Baths and Hôtel de Cluny
6, place Paul Painlevé    75005 Paris    hours: Wed-Mon, 9:15 to 5:45
Métro   Cluny-La Sorbonne,   Saint-Michel,   or   Odéon
review :  the guardian      review :  new york times

Among the many walking tours available in Paris,
Paris  Walks'  are the highest-rated and the best-priced!  At 12 euros (about $17) per person, you can choose from a wide range of Paris topics.  My favorites included "Revolutionary Paris" and "Paris Under The Occupation.Tours run on a given schedule, rain or shine, and last about two hours.  Just show up (no reservation needed)!   Entertaining,  informative,  and inexpensive  great way find out about Paris for the first-time or many-times Paris visitor! My husband enjoyed books from their recommended reading list as well.
  further  information
reviews :   trip advisor
SPECIAL MENTION: I highly recommend Paris Muse Tours as well.  
They're expensive, but worth every euro!

details of  "The Tapestry Room" (above)
I loved visiting this opulent, Belle-Epoque museum in Paris' 8th arrondissement.
A Second-Empire mansion, opened in 1913, it's comparable to the Frick Collection in New York and the Doria Pamphili Gallery in Rome.  It is an often-overlooked gem.

ornate carved mill work in "The Music Room" (above)
Edouard André, army officer and son of a banking family, married Nélie Jacquemart, a society artist who had painted his portrait. Together they built this private residence to house their extensive art collection.  My favorites included: Rembrant van Rijn's Supper at Emmaus, Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Antoine Français de Nantes, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini's bust of Gregory XV.

Rembrant's "Supper at Emmaus" in the Library (above)
Additional masterpieces include works of Canaletto,  Donatello,  Della Robbia,  Botticelli and Houdon.  The double-staircase boasts an extraordinary fresco by Giambattista Tiepolo.  These are just the tip of the iceberg!

Jacques-Louis David's "Antoine Français de Nantes" in the boudoir
Furnishings and antiques include pieces from the periods of Louis XIV to Louis XVI, in addition to Fifteenth and sixteenth-century Turkish carpets and Beauvais tapestries.  Edouard and Nélie created an "Italian Museum" on the second floor. It includes three exhibition spaces, called "Venetian, Florentine and [Italian] Sculpture" Galleries.

the antechamber, above, where Nélie and Edouard's private quarters joined
and where they enjoyed breakfast together.
The   perfect   place   to   spend   a   rainy   morning   or   afternoon!

Musée   Jacquemart - André
158, Blvd Haussmann 75008 Paris
Metro :   Miromesnil  or  Saint Philippe du Roule
Admission 10€ adults, 8.50€ children 7-17, 6 and under, free
museum  photo  galleries

This   post   is   really   five   little   posts   in   one   big   post!  
Click   on   orange - highlighted   words   for   further   info  and   enjoy! 
PHOTOS by Ruth Burts Interiors, with exception of numbers
2., 17., 20.-21. musée jacquemart-andré

R E L A T E D    P O S T S :

Paris   2012 :   Favorites

Paris   2010 :   Favorites

Monday, February 3, 2014

Paris ID: "Enchantment Under the Sea"

Paris  may  be  gray  and  rainy, 

 but  the  store  window  designers  are  dreaming  of the islands...

It's  'Enchantment  Under  the  Sea' 

in  Paris'  Place  Furstemberg  this  month!

photos   by   ruth   burts

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Power Neutrals: WHITE

interior   by   joseph  minton,    paint   color   unknown

What's    the    best    white    paint    color    --    for   YOU ?
Here       are      the     most - requested,     top - selling
white  -  neutral     paint     colors . . .  and    the     closest     you'll     come     to
" fail  -  safe "    and    " fool - proof "   color!

interior   by    timothy   whealon,    paint   color   unknown

Color   expert   Maria  Killam   describes   the   "80/20  rule,"
as   it   applies   to   paint : 
" Eighty   percent   of   all   paint   jobs   involve   
only   twenty   percent   of   all   paint   colors. "   

above   paint   color   unknown

Benjamin    Moore 's            " L I N E N       W H I T E "               9 1 2
 Benjamin     Moore's       all  -  time,     number  -  one  -  selling      white
“  [ LINEN          WHITE            is ]           absolutely         classic
A     bit     warm     and     not     overly     crisp,   
meaning   it   never   looks   brand   new.   Fades   into   the   background,   offering   support   to   the   other   colors   in   the   room.
My   kitchen   cabinets   are   linen  white,   since 
I     wanted     the    room     to     look     lived     in     instantly. ”  
-   Celerie   Kemble

"Linen   White"   walls   at   "Boxwood"   in   Atlanta,   GA,    Miles  Redd 

"  When             in            doubt,             LINEN           WHITE.  " 
You      can      phone      that      in.
It   might   seem   like   a   cop - out,   but   it   works   beautifully.
I   use   it   when   people   are   unsure.   They   want   something
light        and        airy,        but        not        stark        white.
No   matter   what   light   you   put   it   in,   it   looks   good. "
-  Matthew   Patrick   Smith

LINEN    WHITE    has   gotten   us   through   many   a   paint   dilemma.
It's      a      creamy      white,      very      neutral      and       just      works.
There's        a        reason        it's        so        popular! 
When   it   feels   too   yellow,   we   cut   it   with   one   part   White   Dove   and   it's   a   toned   down   version.      It's      a      great      staple      color.  "   
-  Enchanted  Home

" A   . . .   flexible,        soft        white  . . . 
If   you   are   looking   for   a   white   that   will   complement   any   variety   of   room   décor,    [ LINEN      WHITE  ]   will   provide   the 
perfect        backdrop        for        art        collections 
and   pieces   of   furniture   and   any   color   combination   you   may   choose. 
-  Frank  Campanelli

“  [ LINEN      WHITE 's  ]       creamy        undertones        can        help
add       a       glow       and       warmth       to       a       space.
It   looks   especially   beautiful   at   night   in   a   room   full   of   lit   candles. "
-   Grant   Gibson

Moore "Linen White" (70) in Eggshell. The trim is Benjamin Moore "Super White" (02) in semi gloss.
 '' I     take     a     gallon     of     Benjamin   Moore     regular     white
and     a     gallon     of     Benjamin     Moore      Linen    White
and     mix     them     together. ''  
-  Mario   Buatta

50%    Linen White     and     50%    Decorator   White
it’s    sort    of    a    design    secret    that    has    been    used    for    years. ”
-   Grant   Gibson

Another white paint color with similar levels of acclaim:

Benjamin       Moore's           WHITE      DOVE           OC - 17

My    fave    shade    of   white   is   Benjamin   Moore  WHITE   DOVE 
-   it's     warm     but    not    too    yellow,    not    too    gray. "
-  Nick  Olsen

WHITE     DOVE     IS   . . .  

"  a    foolproof,    livable    shade    of    white. "   -  Cary  Bernstein  

"  clean,   calm,   and   a   great   backdrop   for   art." - Celeste Robbins

"...the  perfect  shade  of  white… not  too  yellow,  not  too  blue."  Chloe Warner

“  If      there      were      such      a      thing     as
A       P A I N T      C E L E B R I T Y 
White      Dove      would      be      it.   "     

" . . . a    cool,    modern    white    with    a    very    faint    taupe    cast; 
e v e r y o n e        t o t a l l y        l o v e s      i t. ” 

-   Doty  Horn, Director of Color and Design, Benjamin Moore

T  R  I  M :

“Anyone  can  pick  a  color  for  walls.   What’s  harder  is  choosing  hues  for  trims  and  ceilings.   [White Dove]  is  my  choice  for  window  casings  and  door  frames. " 
- Todd Romano

"[White  Dove  is]  great  on  woodwork  in  traditional  homes" 
- Mario Buatta

"[White  Dove]  looks  great  in oil-based  high  gloss  on  trim!"
- Nick Olsen 

"If  we  had  a  signature  trim  color  [White  Dove]  would  be  it!"
- Chloe Warner

Proceed with confidence that one of these two whites will work for you!

snow  whites