Subway - above ground

When the Paris metro system was planned by the end of the 19th century, already nine lines were envisaged – today there are 14 (or 16, if you add nos. 3bis and 7bis). At the outset, there was a west-east line (the present line no. 1), a north-south line (the present line no. 4) and a circular line. Line no. 1 was opened in July 1900 during the World's Fair.

What you would refer to as a circular line corresponds today to two lines:
Line no. 2, which partly opened also in 1900 (actually the part which is not “circular” and goes from Place Charles-de Gaulle – Etoile in the direction of the Bois de Boulogne) and was completed in 1903...

... and today's line no. 6 – first known as line no. 2 South -, which opened with a first part from Etoile to Trocadéro also in 1900, reached Place de l’Italie in 1906 and Place de la Nation in 1909.  

What is particular with both lines, nos. 2 and 6, is that they are partly above ground, which somehow may make them more interesting, especially from a sightseeing point of view - some landmarks can be seen through the windows.

Here you have an approximate map of lines nos. 2  and 6, the yellow dotted lines being what’s above ground….

… and here are some pictures, a mixture from lines nos. 2 and 6, very slightly different in design.

The more spectacular parts of line no. 6 may be the crossing of the Seine River, at Pont de Bir-Hakeim and Pont de Bercy. (Line no. 4 was the first one to cross the Seine under water in 1910.)



On the stairs at the end of a little street, Rue Lemaignan, you can find the portrait of "Coluche" (Michel Colucci). He died in 1986, only some 42 years old in a motorcycle accident. He was a comedian and an actor, extremely popular, known for his irreverent sense of humour. He dared to say what most others wouldn't dare, on- and off-stage. He even (for fun... or not?) announced his candidacy for the presidential elections in 1981 - before withdrawing, but reaching 16% of voting intentions. In 1985 he created the "Restos de Coeur", an association which has survived him and today offers help (food, lodging...) to more than a million people, especially during the cold months.

The portrait here, quite recent, is meant as an homage, commemorating 30 years since his death. It was very officially recently inaugurated by the mayors of the 13th and 14th arrondissements.

From the top of the street you see "nothing", from the bottom of the street you see the portrait. I hope that theses pictures will explain how the artists, Zag & Sia, have worked.

Why here? "Coluche" lived just round the corner in a red-brick house, more or less overlooking the beautiful Montsouris park. 

I already posted about this park, see here, when it was greener than this week.

Talking about colours..., I admired some black and red.


Anders Zorn - Paris years

Anders Zorn (1860-1920) was a Swedish painter, etcher and sculptor. He had the chance of being quite successful already during his lifetime. He travelled a lot, visited the US several times and even made official and unofficial portraits of some presidents, Cleveland, Taft and Th. Roosevelt.

He was a great portraitist and obviously made a fortune in painting royalty, presidents, nobility and members of the “high society”. But he also portrayed himself, his wife Emma, family members, friends, artists … and a lot from his native “Dalecarlia” in Sweden, including a lot of nudes.  

Zorn made some 289 etchings. Often we can see “duplicates” – a painting and an etching of the same motif.  

Still travelling a lot and frequently returning to Sweden, he had a fixed address in Paris 1889-1896. His address was on Boulevard de Clichy, more or less in front of the “Moulin Rouge”. (I included a picture of the “Moulin Rouge” around 1890.)

He had some immediate success, was awarded the French Legion of Honour in 1889 – at the age of 29, was asked to paint his self-portrait for the Uffizi Gallery in Florence (the one from 1889 above) …

During his Paris time he hardly produced any street views. There are some paintings and etchings of a Paris "Omiibus" and of a Montmartre prostitute in red – “Night Effect”. 

But he made a number of portraits – paintings and etchings – of some of the local celebrities like Paul Verlaine, Auguste Rodin (made later – 1906), Antonin Proust (journalist and politician, portrayed also by Manet, Rodin..), the actor Coquelin Cadet, the baritone singer Jean-Baptiste Faure (art collector who bought a large number of Manet  paintings especially and it was probably in one of his homes that Zorn could meet Gounod, Maupassant, Degas, Monet…), Ernest Renan (philosopher, historian, writer), Anatole France (poet, journalist, novelist), Marcellin Berthelot (chemist and politician)…


Passing in front of d’Artagnan…

The area referred to as “Plaine-Monceau”, north of the “Parc Monceau” (see previous posts), used to be more or less hunting grounds until the second half of the 19th century. There was just a little castle and the village Monceau. In 1860, when the area was incorporated in Paris and became part of the 17th arrondissement, it developed rapidly. The brothers Péreire - bankers (and railways, shipping lines, insurance…) - were heavily involved in land and real estate business. It was also the case in this area, which was rapidly transformed to a fashionable district, with elegant housing including a number of “hôtels particuliers” (private mansions) for wealthy people. It was also where you then found some of the more successful artists, who possibly wished to live close to their clientele – I already talked about some of them, e.g. here on my previous blog.

The other day I just made a short walk along two of these streets (there are many), rue Henri-Rochefort and rue Jacques-Bingen, crossing Place du Général-Catroux (“the place of the 3 Dumas”) on which I also have posted and where you find d’Artagnan, as illustrated by Gustave Doré on the monument to Alexandre Dumas “père”. 
Here are some examples of the buildings, today mostly occupied by offices, institutions, consulates…

… and some examples of decorative details.



I’m a member of an association, now almost 60 years old, which has the aim of giving support to Swedish artists who work in France. The name is “Association Artistique Suédoise à Paris” and you can read more about it here (if you understand Swedish or French ... or make use of the translation tool). We organise exhibits, lotteries, visits to artist studios, museums… 

Last week we met some of “our” artists at a lithography workshop in the 19th arrondissement, “A Fleur de Pierre” (see their site here). Some of “our” artists have already worked with lithography, some have not.

“A Fleur de Pierre” works according to traditional methods, invented in 1796. The owners gave us a brief explanation of the process. The word lithography has its origins in the ancient Greek lithos, meaning stone, and graphein, meaning to write. It’s a printing method based on the fact that oil and water don't mix, using extremely smooth limestone plates, gum, oil, acids, ink … Well, I’m not going to try to explain it all - you can rather go to Wikipedia here.

There are different manual presses in the workshop, but especially impressive is the more than one hundred year old printing press machine.

Here are some examples of artwork produced at this workshop.

Here you can see some of the participants during the presentation. For us, it was also an opportunity to discuss with the artists about how we best can assist them, to listen to new ideas… Of course, the discussion finished over a glass (or two).

For 17 years our association has been distributing a lithograph made by one of "our" artists to all of its some 200 members.