Happy New Year!

To finish the 2010 blogging, I thought I could show you a few photos which I for different reasons never published.

The first one (on top) is taken from Montmartre. With good eyes you may recognize (from left to right) the Tour Saint-Jacques, Notre Dame, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, Saint-Eustache, Pantheon, Sainte-Chapelle.

On the next one, also from Montmartre, one may recognize the Invalides.
This one is just a door knob.
… and this one is “just” a Bentley.
Here is the “Marianne” statue on Place de la République.
A differently dressed young lady.
Some grapes.
Now I wish to thank you all, “followers”, for your interest in my blog and for all your visits and comments during 2010. You have all been more faithful “followers” than I have managed to be, especially lately. Once more; sincere thanks!!
Due to lack of time, I will probably somewhat reduce the number of posts in 2011, not be posting regularly (more or less every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as until now), but I will still post and still visit your blogs - only possibly a bit more “now and then”.

Now let’s hope for a really nice 2011, which I really wish you all (and myself)! The champagne bottle is ready to be opened!


Merry Christmas !!

Somehow, despite closed airports and cancelled flights, I managed to get back from my short visit to Sweden. Christmas holidays are approaching and I will not have the time to blog for a couple of days. I take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and, although I hope to post again before the end of the year, thank you for having been so faithful visitors to my blog, more faithful than I may have been, especially lately.

To illustrate - a somewhat commercial - Christmas I chose to, once more, show you the fantastic copula of the department store Galeries Lafayette. It dates from 1912.

Taking these pictures, I discovered some fire protection equipment, which also seems to date from 1912, but looking shining new.


A different type of Christmas decoration

When this is published, I should normally (weather permitting) be in Sweden for a couple of days and will be absent from blogging for a little while, but I plan to be back before Christmas.

In the meantime, some pictures from a supposed ecological Christmas decoration. Christmas trees and some other decorations have been created with the help of used plastic bottles and the use of low consuming light is also part of the idea. These decorations can, as last year, be found around Place André Malraux and the neighbour street Rue Richelieu, including in the shop windows.

The lights on the fountain gave some nice colours to the frozen water.
I wish you a nice weekend! 


Montmartre Cemetery - authors

I continue with some more tombs at the Montmartre Cemetery. This time it’s about poets, authors… and once more I will try to take them in a chronological order.

Known as Stendahl, Marie-Henri Beyle (1783-1842), is considered as one of the major realism writers, although his career mainly coincides with the more romantic 19th century period. His most famous works are “Le Rouge et le Noir” (“The Red and the Black”) and “La Chartreuse de Parme” (“The Charterhouse of Parma”) – written in 52 days.

While “La Chartresue…” treats on the battling Napoleonic period - Stendahl was himself one of the survivors of the retreat from Russia in 1812 - “The Red…” is about a young man, Julien Sorrel, during the after-Napoleon years, and the novel emphasizes the contradiction between feelings and behaving, hypocrisy, need of social acceptance…. Balzac and Tolstoy are among the authors who claim to have been seriously influenced by Stendahl.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), one of the greatest German poets, who was brought up in the then French governed Düsseldorf, spent the last 25 years of his life in Paris, basically because of his radical political views; many of his works were banned by the German authorities.

During his French years, he became less romantic and added a lot of irony, sarcasm and satire into his works. Although he loved his Fatherland, he was against nationalism and was quite in favour of the French revolutionary ideals, but also of Napoleon, the organizer – not the warrior. He even briefly flirted with communism and was a friend of Marx, who admired Heine’s works.

He married a Paris shopgirl, who was quite illiterate, knew no German and had no interest in cultural or intellectual matters, but they lived together to the end – and she is buried with him.

Some of Heine’s books were among the thousands that were burnt in Berlin in 1933. On the ground of the site, the Opernplatz, you can today read some of Heine’s lines, written some 110 years earlier: “That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also." Today, his birth town, Düsseldorf, has got its university named after him, as well as one of its main boulevards.
Much of his poetry has been set to “lieder” by composers like Robert and Clara Schumann, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, Wagner... but the best known is perhaps the “Lorelei” (written in 1824) in a more traditional musical version by Friedrich Silcher from 1837.

Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863) was an aristocrat, meaning that his family suffered from the revolutionary ideas in strong force during his first years. He published very successfully poems and a novel, “Cinq-Mars” in 1826. One of his best friends then was Victor Hugo, who soon of course became more successful. Also, politically, their destinies were different; de Vigny remained a royalist. Some ten years later he wrote however a drama, “Chatterton”, considered as one of the best French romantic dramas, still performed regularly. (Chatterton was an English poet who committed suicide at the age of 17, preferring arsenic to starving - of course extremely “romantic”.)

De Vigny more or less retired at the age of 40.

Eugène Labiche (1815-88) is basically known for a number of comic plays. He had a lot of success during his lifetime – some even compared him to Molière – and his works are still frequently played on the Paris vaudeville stages.

The two brothers, Edmond de Goncourt (1822-96), and Jules de Goncourt (1830-70) were both novelists and very active in the Paris intellectual circles, but are most famous for having created the yearly “Prix Goncourt”, some kind of local French Nobel Prize in literature, awarded for “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year”. Jules died quite young, at the age of 39 and the real founder of the prize is rather the elder brother Edmond. Among the prize winners can be mentioned Marcel Proust, Simone de Beauvoir…
Romain Gary (married to Jean Seberg for a couple of years) got the Goncourt prize for” Roots of Heaven”, which became a film by John Huston, starring Errol Flynn, Trevor Howard, Orson Wells, Juliette Greco…

Normally you get the prize only once, but Romain Gary got it a second time under a synonym (Emile Ajar). This book also became a film under the name “Madame Rosa”, starring Simone Signoret. Several other of the prize winning books have been filmed including “The Ogre”, written by Michel Tournier and filmed by Volker Schlöndorff, starring John Malkovich, “The Lover”, written by Marguerite Duras, filmed by Jean-Jacques Annaud…

Ernest Renan (1823-92), was a philosopher, historian, scholar of religion and critical philosophy and his works are still studied and read. Many of the opinions he expressed were certainly in advance on his time and it can certainly be claimed that he has had a great influence on the progressive spirit in western culture. Not anti-religious (he studied to enter in religion), he claimed however that the life of Jesus should be analyzed as the life of any other man and the Bible should be subject to the same critical scrutiny as other historical documents. On the question “what is a nation?” he defined it as a desire of people to live together and that it must not be linked to race or ethnical issues.

Some quotes: “Our opinions become fixed at the point where we stop thinking.” “The liberty of the individual is a necessary postulate of human progress.”

He shares the tomb of Ary Scheffer (see previous post); he married to Scheffer’s niece.

He obviously took weight with the years, as we can see from the statue made by Ary Scheffer and the edging, made by Anders Zorn (see previous post).

I already wrote about Alexandre Dumas fils (1824-95) in previous posts (1 ,2) and the famous “The Lady of the Cameila”.

Emile Zola (1840-1902) has his tomb here, but his remains were transferred to the Pantheon (see previous post) in 1908. Zola is clearly one of the greatest French writers ever; he’s not at the Pantheon for nothing. But he had of course also a great political influence, is famous for his actions during the Dreyfus affair and he was also largely supporting the artists who were to create the impressionism.

Zola’s involvement in the Dreyfus affair, writing a letter to the French President, which was published on the first page of the daily newspaper “L’Aurore” (run by Georges Clemenceau), where he accused the government of anti-Semitism and judicial errors, led to his prosecution. He fled to England for a short time. Dreyfus was finally exonerated.
He wrote some 30 or 40 novels, most of which are still bestsellers. Many of them have been staged and filmed, including “La Bête Humaine” – “Human Desire” in a Hollywood version with Glenn Ford, “Thérèse Raquin” (a new version with Glenn Close under preparation); “Au Bonheur des Dames”, “Germinal”…. A film about his life was made in 1937, “The Life of Emile Zola”, which won an Oscar for Best Picture.
Zola was also one of the first and leading supporters of the impressionist painters. He was since childhood a friend of Cézanne, who painted him several times. The impressionism actually started as the “Groupe des Batignolles”, an area in Paris where most of the future impressionists - and Zola, then lived (and where I live now). I wrote about this group in one of my first posts on my previous blog. Renoir, Monet, Sisley, Pisarro, Degas… met at a café (“Guerbois”) and in different workshops. Here you can see one of Cézanne’s portraits of him – with a friend and (in a painting by Fantin-Latour) we can see Manet painting, surrounded by Monet, Renoir and Zola and in the third painting (by Bazille), we can see Bazille presenting his latest work to Manet and Monet, while Zola on the stairs has a discussion with Renoir. (Bazille was a few months later, at 29, killed in the French-Prussian war.)

Georges Feydeau (1862-1921) wrote some 60 theatre plays, which possibly can be referred to as farces and which actually by many are considered as precursors to what later became the surrealist and dada theatres, sometimes touching the absurd … there are a lot of opened and slammed doors. He’s also still regularly played, of course in France, but some twenty of his works among which “The Flea in the Ear”, “The Girl from Maxim’s”… have also been played on Broadway, in London… starring Rex Harrison, Albert Finney… “Hotel Paradiso” (“L’Hôtel du Libre Echange”) was played on stage by Angela Lansbury and was filmed with Gina Lollobrigida and Alec Guiness.

Here is again a plan which may help you to find these tombs.


Montmartre Cemetery - painters

Painters at the Montmartre Cemetery ...there are so many tombs … , some of painters I didn’t know, some tombs I didn’t find. I have tried to mention the ones I found in a more or less chronological order.

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805), was considered as a rococo painter, but quite moralizing. He reached quite early considerable success and honors, however when he was not accepted at the Academy of Art as a historical painter – which was his ambition; he was accepted only as a “genre painter” – he stopped exhibiting, with as a result, reduced income. He died quite poor.

He has some 15 paintings exhibited at the Louvre, but you can also find his works at the Hermitage, National Gallery, Rijksmuseum…

He painted also this portrait of the seven or eight years old Mozart who stayed in Paris for a couple of months 1763-64.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806), more or less contemporary to Greuze , was also a rococo painter with a large production (some 550 paintings known). His paintings have often an erotic touch; he fulfilled the demand of the wealthy art patrons especially during Louis XV’s pleasure-loving years. His touch and technique certainly influenced the much later impressionists. His works can today be seen at the Louvre (some 25 paintings), MMA, National Gallery, Hermitage…

Here is a painting by him of his good friend Diderot that I photographed at the Louvre.

His tomb has actually disappeared. There I just a plate.

Ary Scheffer (1795-1858) was born in Dordrecht, but spent most of his life in France. Although his name is mostly referring to romanticism, his style was different, described as “frigidly classical”. He’s represented at the Louvre, MMA, Hermitage… The two paintings you see here were taken by me recently at the Louvre.

Looking through the closed gate, you can (hardly) see a sculpture he made of his mother on her deathbed and some reproductions of his paintings.
Scheffer’s name is also linked to the “Musée de la Vie Romantique” (see previous post), which used to be his home. This is also the place where people like George Sand, Chopin, Liszt, Dickens, Delacroix, Lamartine, Ingres… were his frequent guests, some as close neighbours. He was an excellent portrait painter and he portrayed also some of these friends. Actually, the portrait of Marie Taglioni (see previous post) is also painted by him.

The next tomb relates to two brother painters, Jacques-Eugene Feyen (1815-1908) and Auguste Feyen-Perrin (1826-88).

Van Gogh was a fan of Jacques-Eugene: ”… one of the few painters who pictures intimate modern life as it really is and does not turn it into fashion plates…”. Many of his motives are from Brittany.

Auguste concentrated more on historical scenes.

I was actually attracted by the statue of the young lady, made by Ernest Guilbert, a sculptor who obviously left other statues around, but - as many others - mostly melted by the Nazis during WW II.

Gustave Moreau (1826-98) is considered as a “symbolist” painter; his works are mostly linked to mythological history. His art was quite special and has been an inspiration for the more abstract impressionism and the later surrealism. Links to later painters like Klimt and Munch are also obvious, as well to the “art nouveau”. It seems that Oscar Wilde was one of his fans and that Moreau’s paintings inspired some of Wilde’s works.

(I actually never found his tomb, but it's somewhere on the photo in the collage.)

I highly recommend a visit to his personal museum (14, rue Rochefoucauld, Paris 9) on which I once made a post. Many of his 8,000 paintings, watercolours and drawings can be seen there and the building , his home and workshop, is fascinating. This is where I took the photo of his painting “Jupiter and Semele”. He’s also represented at the Louvre with some 20 paintings, and also at MMA, Musée d’Orsay, National Gallery…

Addendum 31/12: Finally I found Gustave Moreau's tomb. Here it is.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917), actually De Gas, is of course known especially for his paintings and statues of dancers. He may be referred to as one of the impressionist artists, but he himself rather considers himself as a “realist”. He participated in the first impressionist salons, actively participating in the organizing, but he never really felt that he was part of the movement, also preferring working more indoors than outdoors.
However, he also painted other motives than dancers. Here are some examples from his Italian period 1856-60 (the Bellini family), his “horse period” during the 1860’s, his stay in New Orleans (1872), a portrait…
I rather recently had the opportunity to visit an atelier (see here), which he obviously used the last years of his life, more or less blind. This was the period when he concentrated on his ballerina sculptures.

I believe that there is no need to mention the names of the museums where he’s represented.

Alphonse-Marie-Adolphe de Neuville (1835-85), who was one of Eugène Delacroix’ students, was “classic”, the subjects are mostly patriotic, war scenes... Maybe not so well-known today, he was highly appreciated during his lifetime.

You can find paintings of him at the Louvre, Hermitage, Quai d’Orsay…

Gustave Guillaumet (1840-87) spent many years in Algeria, those days a French colony. He shared the life of the inhabitants, including in distant and desert regions. This is what we can see in most of his paintings. I was attracted by the sculpture that decorates his tomb, made by Louis-Ernest Barrias, who has left many other sculptures in Paris and around, e.g. in the Tuileries Gardens and maybe especially “La Défense de Paris” made to glorify the French soldiers defending Paris during the French-Prussian war 1870-71. This statue gave the name to the business quarters “La Défense”, just outside Paris, where you can find it and where I photographed it in a previous post.

Guillaumet is also represented at the Louvre, Quai d’Orsay, National Gallery… He participated in the first impressionist exposition in 1874 together with Monet, Renoir...

Finally, some words about Francisque Poulbot (1879-1946). His name is very much linked to Montmartre, known as the illustrator of the “Kids of Paris” (see previous post). His “kids” have served as models for a lot of illustrations made by other artists, illustrations which are often referred to as “pulbots” and which you often find on postcards, however mostly having nothing to do with the real ones.

If you are interested to find these tombs, this is where you can (try to) find them.

(I have again "stolen" some pictures - white frames - mostly from Wikipedia. If there is a copyright problem, I will immediately withdraw them.)


Not quite "normal".

I will make a little break in my series of the Montmartre Cemetery tombs. (There is more to come.) I just thought I must show you what “my” little park looked like last Wednesday, not the way it normally should look like even in December, but somehow nice!

For safety reasons, the Paris parks are closed when there is snowfall or heavy winds. I managed to slip in just when they were going to close the gates.

I hope that these winter pictures will not frighten you; Paris is still nice to live in and to visit!
Please note that all these pictures are in colour, not always obvious, except if you notice the umbrellas of two ladies.
As a comparison, you may look at more colourful photos on previous posts from the same park, Square des Batignolles.

A man was sweeping the alley I used to get back home. I don’t know how useful it was; the snowfall was not finished.
I wish you a nice weekend!