Monet in Paris

There is of course a lot to be said about Claude Monet (1840-1926) and his long career, but here I would like to concentrate on his “Paris production”. Actually, he hardly had any of his own and or long-lasting addresses in Paris, although he was quite present – and active – especially during the years when the impressionist movement got started. (I wrote about this several times, see perhaps especially here.) Monet was actually born in Paris at rue Laffitte (later, during decades, to become an art gallery street), but moved with his family to Le Havre at the age of five.

Monet came to Paris now and then during his youth, studied art… Where did he stay?

The only Paris addresses I have found are actually when he, after two years in Algeria as a soldier, during the mid-1860’s stayed with his painter friend Camille Bazille (1841-70), (who had money) in a studio, rue de Furstenberg in the Saint-Germain-des Prés area. Here are some paintings by Camille Bazille, one from the Furstenberg studio, one of Monet lying in a bed with an injured leg (1865) and the more famous one (1870) from Bazille’s studio Rue Condamine, where we also can see Renoir, Manet, Zola… and Monet observing the ongoing painting work. Bazille died soon after, thus in 1870, during the French-Prussian war. (You can see the same armchair in the two studio paintings.)

A second Paris address was when Monet stayed with another friend, the photographer Nadar (1820-1910), boulevard des Capucines, obviously around 1873. The building is still there, heavily modified. This is also where the first impressionist exhibition was held in 1874. Monet made two paintings from there.

In the meantime he had met his first wife Camille, had a first child in 1867 and got married in 1870. Camille had already died by 1879.  They lived under poor conditions in the Paris neighbourhood. Monet then met Alice, started to get relatively wealthy, and later married her in 1892. They had then already found Giverny (see previous post). 

So, which paintings do we have by Monet from Paris, apart from the two from Boulevard des Capucines?

Here is one from 1867 overlooking the Seine and part of the Cité-island with the Pantheon in the background. He must have stood on the south-east corner of the Louvre, but higher up than I managed to do. Maybe not yet that "impressionist"?

The same year he painted the Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois church, obviously standing at the Louvre main entrance.

In 1871 he painted the Pont-Neuf-bridge. (Renoir obviously stood at the same place a year later.)

Part of the Tuileries Gardens were painted in 1876. He must have made it from the top of one of the Rue de Rivoli buildings.

In 1877 – three years after the first impressionist exhibition - he made a large series from Gare-Saint-Lazare. (We know that he often did a multitude of paintings of the “same thing”, like the Rouen Cathedral under different light settings…).

He then even painted the close-by Pont de l’Europe. Difficult for me to find the same angle. The bridge railings have been modified since – see also how Caillebotte (see previous post) painted the bridge a year earlier.

Between 1876 and 1878 he made some paintings from Parc Monceau - difficult today to find exactly where. The trees are not the same or not of the same size…

In 1878 he illustrated the July 14th celebration at Rue Mouffetard.

Those are all the Paris paintings I have found.

At last – some portraits of Monet made by friends: Renoir (1872), Manet (1874), in the studio boat Monet used for painting alongside the Seine banks - here with his wife Camille, Singer Sargent (1889) and Nadar (1899)   – there are many more. 



I already showed the above photo on Facebook, but I have some more photos from that rainy late August day.

Due to the rainy weather, people seemed to have chosen to spend the day or some hours at the Louvre – the lines were longer than usual. After all, they had to stay outside for quite a while, under umbrellas, before entering the pyramid. (There are slightly quicker and more weather-protected ways to enter the museum, but maybe the lining up is part of the charm.)

Some people dared to cross the bridges by foot.

The Eiffel Tower (Trocadéro) and the boat tours were less popular than a “normal” August day.

Later during the day I visited Parc Monceau. I had a feeling of being the only one there… together with some discouraged ducks.

I was impressed by the air bubbles created by the raindrops.

I guess that after a rather dry and hot summer, at least the vegetation appreciated the rain. 

This was a couple of days ago. Yesterday - and last night, the weather was really nice, hot!


Hector Berlioz

I already talked about Hector Berlioz (1803-69) some five years ago (see here), when I made a number of posts about the Montmartre Cemetery. Yes, that’s where he’s buried. The present tomb replaced an older one in 1970. Twice a widower, Berlioz had both wives buried here. (Berlioz was a frequent visitor to the cemetery; it’s also known that he met a last love, when walking around here.) The portrait of Berlioz was taken from the previous tomb. It was made by Cyprien Godebski (1835-1909), a renowned sculptor (e.g. a monumental work in Warsaw of the Polish national poet Adam Mickiewicz.)

Actually Berlioz lived during his last thirteen years quite close to the cemetery, at 4, rue de Calais. The year he moved in seems also to be the year the building was constructed (according to the inscription).

Berlioz was one of the few composers who hadn’t got any early musical training, didn’t play the piano (he learnt the guitar, the flute…). Originally he had commenced to study medicine. He took up music quite late and against the will of his parents. He never became known as an instrumentalist, but of course as composer… and conductor. Obviously his compositions, which were much appreciated by most of his colleagues (Liszt, Wagner…) and often more abroad than in France, didn’t always give him substantial, regular revenues and he also had parallel jobs, more particularly as writer, musical critic, head librarian at the Paris Conservatory… He’s also known for having written “Treatise on Instrumentation” (1844). Rather, his more generally accepted greatness and importance as a composer was achieved later, during the 20th century.

There is a rue Berlioz in Paris, but obviously not linked to a place where he lived. But, at the end of rue de Calais, where he died in 1869, there is a Square Berlioz (see top picture). Here he got a bronze statue in 1886, but as most other metallic statues, it disappeared during the Nazi occupation. It was replaced by the present one – in stone, by George Saupique (1889-1961), in 1948.

Let’s first listen to “Symphonie Fantastique” (5th movement), composed in 1830 (only three years after Beethoven’s death, two years after Schubert’s death…), by many considered to be his most outstanding and revolutionary work and acclaimed by Liszt, Chopin, Paganini, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Heinrich Heine, George Sand… who attended the premiere...

…then to the “Hungarian March” from the “Damnation of Faust”, first performed in 1846, perhaps the most well-known piece by Berlioz…


… and at last to the very patriotic “Marseillaise” in the Berlioz version (1830).


Rue Chaptal

Rue Chaptal is one of many similar looking, mostly nice, streets in the 9th arrondissement. As a lot of the streets here, very popular among 19th century and early 20th century artists, it has much of history, partly still visible, especially behind the facades and in the small alleys leading to it.

The most well-known is perhaps what today is referred to as the Museum of the Romantics, once the home of the painter Ary Scheffer and linked to names as Ernest Renan, George Sand, Chopin, Liszt, Delacroix, Dickens…   I wrote about it already on my previous blog, see here. This time I just went there for a cup of coffee in the little garden.

If you look over the wall in the alley leading to the Museum, you can see a little building, also with a lot of – more recent – history. This was for some thirty years a central point for jazz music. Charles Delauney, who was the son of painters Sonia and Robert Delauney, installed here what was named the “Hot Club de France”. It officially opened with a concert with Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt… This became a centre for everything linked to jazz music for a few decades, including during WWII (when Delauney was an active resistant). This is where jazz musicians met to form groups, find jobs… A magazine, “Jazz Hot”, was published here with famous contributors like Boris Vian. (Kenny Clark composed a famous be bop piece, named “Rue Chaptal”.) The record company “Disques Vogue” was created, featuring Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Sidney Bechet, Errol Garner… and later also pop music artists like Petula Clark, Françoise Hardy… and the magazine “Rock & Folk” was started. When all this editing activity moved to the other side of the street, the famous guitar maker Gibson moved in and the place was still visited by many other artists. (It seems that the place is for rent today?)

(By the way, in a nearby shop, I found some Gibson guitars for sale, price range $5,000 – $9,000. The shop was closed. Some musicians known for playing on Gibson guitars: Chet Atkins, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, David Gilmour, George Harrison, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler, Bob Marley, Les Paul, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Frank Zappa…) 

Talking about music, rue Chaptal is also the street where “SACEM”, the French professional association collecting rights to songwriters, composers, musicians… had its site until 1976. All artists came here to collect what they had earned.  On the opposite side of the street from "SACEM" and the "Hot Club" was a little bar, where for decades all these people met. It was finally baptised the “Annexe” and is still there, but perhaps today with fewer famous, drinking, artists?

Talking about music, this is also where an artist like Iannis Xenakis lived and where Lucien Ginsburg, more known as Serge Gainsbourg, spent his young years, went to school...

In another little alley, you can find a theatre. This was once a little chapel, taken over by the painter Rochegrosse as a workshop, before becoming by the end of the 19th century a, for decades, very popular little theatre, “Le Grand Guignol”, known for naturalistic horror plays, but surprisingly, with a quite sophisticated public, in part. After closing this activity in the 1960’s, there were some attempts to perform some more serious plays and some of our famous actors have occasionally performed here. Today it has become the site for the “International Visual Theatre”, specializing in plays for deaf and hearing-impaired, and also offering all kinds of activities and services connected to this. It’s headed by Emanuelle Laborit.

A last visit in the street could bring you to what today is a municipal library and also a nursery. Once a private 19th century home, known as “Hôtel de Serigny”, the transformation has left very little of the original interior untouched, with the exception of a beautifully decorated salon.

Just to finish this long post, a few other photos from the street.  (In a more invisible way, the street is also linked to many other 19th and early 20th century names like Maupassant, Verlaine, Max Jacob…).



A last post about our Italian holidays… after all this blog should rather be about Paris.

Yes, we also went to Genoa.

One reason was to allow the grand-kids (and ourselves) to visit one of Europe’s largest aquariums, situated in the old port. It was created in 1992, as part of the celebration of the 500 years since the Genoa-born Christopher Columbus (re)discovered the new world. The architect was Renzo Piano - also known for the Pompidou Centre and the future Palace of Justice in Paris.

We also took the time to walk around the older part of the town, including along the Via Garibaldi and the number of old palaces…

… the Piazza de Ferrari with the Opera and, nearby, the Palace of the Doges… and also some more narrow streets. Many buildings are nicely decorated.  

Close to the port you find the 13th century Palazzo San Giorgio (see top picture), built to be the civil-political centre of the city, abandoned, for a while a prison with Marco Polo as its most famous resident – where he dictated his memoirs – and then becoming the home of the Bank of Saint George, founded in 1407, the world’s oldest chartered bank (with the Grimadi family as part owners).  

The 12th century Genoa Cathedral (Cattedrale di San Lorenzo) – with a façade from the 14th century – is richly decorated.

In the cathedral there is a fresco from 1626, illustrating the Last Supper. I may be wrong, but this reminded me of a contemporary painting I once saw in Lima, see post here, where Maria Magdalena is represented. This may be one of the apostles, but…