The Montmartre Museum - to be closed?

I was alerted that there is a threat that the Montmartre Museum could be closed; the City of Paris has indicated that they would withdraw their annual subsidy. This was a good reason to revisit it!

The Museum has been in operation for some 50 years and has its home in the oldest remaining buildings on Montmartre, originally inhabited by “Rosimund”, who succeeded Molière in the Royal troop of comedians. During the 19th century the place was transformed and was occupied by a number of famous artists: Auguste Renoir, Suzanne Valadon, Maurice Utrillo ...

The place was later more or less abandoned, but saved and transformed into a museum.

The museum is situated close to and overlooks the Montmartre vineyard (see previous post), the St. Vincent park (see previous post), the St. Vincent cemetery (see previous post) and the cabaret “Lapin Agile” (see previous post).

Here you can see what it looks like, outside – including a sculpture (by Charles Delporte) and the last (?) rose of the year ...

... and inside. There are many interesting documents to be seen and of course a number of paintings, gravures... of the different artists who have occupied the place. You can e.g. find Utrillo’s easel and some Valadon and Utrillo paintings, some Toulouse-Lautrec posters...
As mentioned, Auguste Renoir had a studio and painted here e.g. “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” (1876), “The Swing” (1876), painted in the garden, “Dance in the City” (1883) and “Dance at Bougival” (1883), the two latter having Suzanne Valadon as model, then 18 years old. She was probably then pregnant as her son, Maurice Utrillo, was born later that year, father unknown (possibly Renoir?). You may see the restaurant where Renoir painted “Dance at Bougival” in one of my previous posts.
Below you can see Suzanne a few years later (1888), “Hangover”, painted by Toulouse-Lautrec and some of her own paintings from the garden, “Nudes” (1919) and “Garden” (1928).

Suzanne made this portrait of her son in 1921, he was then 38. Maurice was very productive and painted several times the nearby cabaret “Lapin Agile”. One painting is of the house where he then lived, now the museum. Maurice Utrillo is buried just downhill, at the St. Vincent cemetery.
In the museum you can find the original of a painting from 1875, by the caricaturist André Gill, representing a rabbit jumping out of a saucepan, made to decorate the wall of this small cabaret and restaurant, which is how it got its name “Le Lapin à Gill” (“Gill’s Rabbit”). With the time the name was transformed to “Lapin Agile” (“Nimble Rabbit”). If you check one of my previous posts, you can read about the number of later famous artists who have performed here and also about all celebrities who have attended. You can see (the copy of) this painting under the leaves.

One of the paintings in the museum is by Adolphe Wilette, “Parce Domine” (1884). It was made to decorate a then famous cabaret “Le Chat Noir”, where “all” artists met those days. Wilette was also in charge of the original decoration of “Moulin Rouge”, including the design of the red mill on top. (If you are interested you can read about the story behind the name “Moulin Rouge" in some of my previous posts, e.g. here, here and here.)
Another painter who worked here was Raoul Dufy. This painting is obviously one of his last, from 1953.

At last I wish to mention Fransique Poulbot, who also worked here, famous for his illustrations of Montmartre children, now known as “poulbots” and widely copied - and falsified. You can also read more about this in a previous post.

Now, don’t we wish this museum to be saved? If you agree, you can sign a petition here!


Renovated Printemps facade

There are a number of department stores in Paris. I have already posted about some of them, more especially about “Le Bon Marché” and about Christmas decorations (not this year’s) at “Galeries Lafayette” and “Printemps”, as well as their glass domes, of which you can see the one at “Printemps” here. So far I have not written anything about other larger ones like e.g. “BHV” or the regretted “La Samaritaine” – closed since 2005. Most of these stores have a long history and were founded during the 19th century. “Le Bon Marché” dates from 1838 and competes (with one at Newcastle-upon-Tyne) about being the oldest in the world.

Today’s post is about the partly newly renovated facade and rotundas of “Printemps”, said to have the largest beauty department in the world. It was founded in 1865, the glass dome dates from 1923. I showed you in a previous post the “false facade” that was put up during the renovation works.

There is a bar on the roof, from where you have a fabulous view, which I showed in a previous post. The top picture offers the view towards the Opera Garnier. Below you can see some day and night shots taken from the street.
The locations you see on the below map are the major sites of these department stores; some of them have branch stores elsewhere in the city.

I wish you a nice weekend!


Sun dials

You can find a great number of sun dials in Paris, maybe 50 or 60. Here are a few.

Starting from the top left and following the sun on the below patchwork: One can be found on the northern slope of Montmartre (4, Place Dalida, from 1924), one in a courtyard beyond the Bastille (around 80, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine, from 1751) and one close to the St. Gervais St. Protais Church (rue des Barres, from the 17th century?). This church has by the way some more sun dials on its walls. The last one here is from the backyard of the Institute (where the French Academies are housed, Quai de Conti, from the 19th century?). This was the only one I got in sunshine and it was actually about 4.30 pm when I took the photo, so it seems to be fairly correct.

A rather surprising and recent one is the one you can also see on the top picture. It’s made by Salvador Dalí in 1966 for some friends who had a shop here those days. You can find it on 27 rue St. Jacques. The shape is a scallop, obviously referring to the name of the street; a scallop is called “Coquille Saint Jacques” in French.

Finally, the best sun dials might be some of the towers you find in Paris and some efforts have actually been made to transform the obelisk on Place de la Concorde to one. You can, with good eyes, find some lines and figures on the ground. I wrote about this in a previous post.


Urban art - indoors

I’m back. Only a short post today.

Just before leaving for a week I visited a recently opened art gallery (La Gallerie Ligne 13), close to where I live. It seems to be specialised in “urban art” which more and more also gets indoors. At present there is an exhibition of “Mesnager” and “Mosko & Associés”, some of the well-known urban artists.

I have several times found and shown what they and some of their colleagues have produced in the Paris streets (see previous posts). Here are a few examples.
I guess I should probably have resisted, but I didn't, so I bought a small picture, cosigned by "Mesnager" and "Mosko".


Where Alfred Nobel wrote his testament

The Swedish Club in Paris (Cercle Suédois, Svenska Klubben) is since 1936 situated on rue de Rivoli, just in front of and with a view of the Tuileries Gardens (see previous posts). The club was founded in 1891 - on a different address. Those days it was a Swedish-Norwegian club; the two countries formed a Union between 1814 and 1905. The Norwegians later had their own premises, but today the Swedish and the Norwegian clubs share again the same facilities.

It’s a very nice place and location with its restaurant and bar, open to anybody and of course used for a lot of events. I was there the other night – for wine tasting and took a few photos – before the tasting started!
Alfred Nobel (1833 – 1896) was one of the first club members and the desk on which he actually wrote his testament in 1895 has been saved. (Born in Stockholm, he lived in Paris for some 20 years, died in San Remo.) The desk can thus still be seen with a facsimile of the hand-written document. As you may know, the Nobel Prizes are attributed by different Swedish academies and institutions, with the exception of the Peace Prize, which is attributed by a committee of members of the Norwegian parliament. This is explained by the fact that Sweden and Norway formed a Union when Nobel wrote his testament.

I wish you a nice weekend ... and a nice week! I’m off to Sweden again for a little bit more than a week.



Pigalle is a district which basically would include the Boulevard de Clichy and part of the Boulevard de Rouchchouart and some of the adjacent streets, passing Place de Pigalle as a central point and Place Blanche, all just south of Montmartre.

Place Pigalle and rue Jean-Babtise Pigalle were given their names in the honour of a sculptor (1714-85). He is the man in the middle here, surrounded by two of his works, one a naked Voltaire (at the Louvre) and one a Virgin Mary (at the St.Eustache church).

Pigalle had its peak during the last decades of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. A leading “star” has of course been the “Moulin Rouge”, opened in 1889. I have already referred to Moulin Rouge in a number of posts, especially the story behind its name. (You can find such information e.g. here, here and here, with further references to other posts.) A number of books and films have given an image of this area with its artists, its gangsters, its prostitutes (who even have their chapel here – see previous post) ...

Today, the area is dominated by a fading sex shop industry, there is an erotic museum... and hardly any prostitutes to be seen ...
... but there are also a number of theatres, clubs, discotheques... Some examples are the 19th century “Elysées Montmartre” (where it seems that the French Cancan was invented..., where boxing was pupular), ”Le Trianon” and “La Cigale” (Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier...), now open for today’s music performers. ”Les Deux Ânes” and “Théatre de Dix Heures” are theatres where you today especially meet politically satirical artists.
Along Boulevard de Clichy, there are also a few other interesting addresses. I have already posted about no. 48 ("Cité du Midi"), no. 58 ("Villa Platanes"), no. 94 ("Cité Véron") and no. 104.


Belleville, Menilmontant ... something more

I have already made some posts about rue Belleville, rue Menilmontant and the adjacent parts of Paris which were incorporated in 1860, traditionally and area of workers and lower middle-class - often active in the different social movements during the latter part of the 19th and earlier parts of the 20th centuries.

Last Saturday I was invited to a varnishing (obviously wrong word: vernissage in French means - also - e.g. the opening of an exhibition) at the “Bellevilloise” (rue Boyer) by an artist friend (KEJ – see previous posts). The “Bellevilloise” was created as the first cooperate association in Paris in 1877. It counted 9000 members in the beginning of the 20th century and offered shops, restaurants, libraries, a chance for the members to meet and to get educated... After a few decades of decline, today the place is living again as a very active cultural centre.

Another example of early social initiatives in this area is the group of “buildings for workers” (rue d’Annam - see also top picture) which you can find close to the “Bellevilloise”. This complex was ready in 1906 and, as you can see on the inscription under the entrance arch, with the intention to offer “cheap accommodations with all kind of hygienic guarantees”. This is just an example of several similar complexes which were built in what were those days the outskirts of Paris.

On the way home, I made a stop at Parc de Belleville which offers one of the best views of Paris, a place from where you can capture the Pantheon, the Notre Dame and the Tour Montparnasse or the Eiffel Tower and the Grand Palais on the same photo.


Walking down rue Bonaparte...

On your way from Place Saint-Germain-des-Prés (see previous post) with its abbey, its little park with a Picasso statue of Appolinaire, the café “Les-Deux-Magots”, its Zadikine statue, its Wallace fountain, some remarkable buildings...
... and its old cobblestones (notice the used metro ticket)...

... you will probably take rue Bonaparte if you head for the Seine.

On the way and before reaching the “’Ecole-des-Beaux-Arts”, definitely worth a visit (see previous post), I recommend a closer look on the courtyard of no. 21 of rue Bonaparte – see also top picture...

... and I guess that you will not miss Ladurée and its macarons.

I would then recommend that you turn to the right and take a look at an insignificant little narrow street, rue Visconti (named, not after the Italian film director, but after the sculptor Louis Visconti, who among other things made Napoleon’s tomb at the Invalides – see previous post - and the fountain on Place Saint-Sulpice – see previous post).

Behind these walls and doors, some remarkable personalities have lived and worked: Honoré de Balzac tried to make business as a printer here for two years (1826-28), at no. 17-19. Eugène Delacroix had his studio in the same building for almost ten years (1836-45) and painted among others Georges Sand and Frédéric Chopin. Jean Racine died here in 1699 – there is a “dispute” about in which building, but the plate is on no. 24. The most famous actress in the early 18th century, Adrienne Lecouvreur, held “salon” at her home, at no. 16, and received among other visitors Voltaire...

Today the street is full of art galleries.

Again, if you look to the right and the left, you will find some very nice courtyards and the smallest Paris public park.

Behind the buildings, between rue Visconti and rue Jacob, is a small “forest” and, hidden on private ground, in a garden, a small “temple” with uncertain origins. A rich American lady, Natalie Barney, held during the first decades of the 20th century “salon” at her home, garden and "temple" and she had among other guests Hemingway, Joyce, Proust... You can see Miss Barney in front of the Temple here (photo from an excellent and very complete site about rue Visconti).

I wish you a nice weelend!