A short break

I will be away for a few weeks. Going to Andlusia with kids and grandkids, where we have rented a house about half way between Sevilla and Cordoba. Then, a couple of days in southern France, Provence. I should be back mid August. In the meantime, I will not blog. Vacations!!
In the meantime, you may have a look on a small clip with some of my photos from 2011, so far.

Take care in the meantime! See you (rather) soon!



What was originally a Carmelite Convent is today a Catholic Institute (University), which you can find on the corner of Rue de Vaugirard and Rue d’Assas.

Carmelites moved in here in the beginning of the 17th century. Some original buildings remain, including the Saint-Joseph-des-Carmes Church, built 1613-20, originally, as the other buildings of the convent, painted in brilliant white. It got the first church copula in Paris, but you need a helicopter to get a good photo of it.
As we can see on the plan from 1739, the convent included large gardens. Here melissa and other plants were cultivated, for the production of Melissa cordial / liqueur (Eau des Carmes, Aqua Carmelitarium), very popular during centuries, used as medicine against digestion and other problems (Cardinal Richelieu used it against migraine), still to be found in pharmacies, but in private hands and produced elsewhere since the 19th century. … and the convent gardens are gone.
The Revolution of course struck here as well. The convent buildings were used as prison for non-juring priests, refractory clergy, who refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the State. 110 of them were killed here in 1792.

The convent could resume its normal activities in 1797. Some modifications to the buildings took place. In 1845 the place was taken over by the Paris archiepiscopal diocese to become a Carmelite School and in 1876 it became the Catholic Institute it today still is, including a Carmelite University Seminary.

New red brick buildings were added during the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
The ornament garden is still there - see also top photo.


Montmartre Museum

Well, I know, it’s July 14th and it’s time to celebrate! Just as a reminder, here is photo I took two years ago (more of these fireworks photos here). If you take a look at Virginia's Paris blog, you will see that I was not alone, when I took these photos. I imagine that something similar will be seen again tonight. I guess I will be around.

But, in the meantime, this post will be about something else. I was invited to the inauguration of a plate, fixed on the wall of what today is the Montmartre Museum. I already posted about the museum end 2009, when there was a danger that it would be closed. It has been saved! Important improvements will be made between now and 2014. The governance of the museum and the works presented have by the City of Paris been committed to an enterprise which already with success manages other historic places in France. They will work in close cooperation with the “Association du Vieux Montmartre” (I’m a member), created in 1886, which since has built up a fantastic collection of paintings, photos… all kinds of souvenirs of what Montmartre was and is.

So, before entering, we assisted at a small ceremony in the street, in the presence of the Mayor of the arrondissement, the boss of the museum, the President of the Montmartre Republic, the Chairman of the “Vieux Montmartre” association, a representative of the Mayor of Paris… and we could see the plate. It indicates some of the names of artists who have worked and lived in what now are the museum buildings, one of which probably is the oldest still existing building on Montmartre.
Some of the names on the plate are world famous, some maybe less. At the end of the post, I will tell something more about the people named on the plate.

So, we entered into the nice gardens, heard some more speeches… and got something to eat and drink.
Exceptionally, it was possible to reach all pieces of the garden and even have a different look at the vineyards (see previous post). In the future, there will also be a direct access to the little “wild” park, the Saint Vincent Garden (see previous post).
Of course I made also a quick visit to the present museum building (see again previous post for more details, if you wish).
So… who were the artists who have been active here, for longer or shorter periods? Some are really famous, but I guess I'm not the only one who didn't know more than possibly the names of some of these personalities, so I did some "research".

Let’s take them in the order they are mentioned on the plate.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was here for about a year and had the time to finish one of his most famous paintings, including the “Moulin de la Galette”, “Le Balançoire”, “Le Jardin de la rue Cortot” (obiously representing him and Monet in discussion).
Maximilien Luce was a painter and anarchist, most well-known for his pointillist works, like Signac, who made his portrait.
Emile-Othon Friez belonged to the fauvist movement, friend of Raoul Dufy (see below). He became more traditional with the age.
Raoul Dufy lived many years here. He was definitely a leading fauvist painter. He’s also known for ceramic and textile, fashion, designs and some very large decorations for public buildings.
Emile Bernard was a post-impressionist painter, like van Gogh and Gauguin and he was close friend with both of them. Bernard spent time with Gauguin in Pont-Aven and we can see how they then made counter piece portraits. We know that Gauguin and van Gogh spent time together in Arles. We can see below how van Gogh copied Bernard’s paintings. They went to the same art school in Paris (Cormon) (see previous post), where Bernard also became friend with Toulouse--Lautrec… and there is even a photo with Bernard and van Gogh together on the Seine banks. … and Bernard attended and painted van Gogh’s funeral.
Francisque Poulbot was a pure “Montmartrian” and did a lot to save the Montmartre spirit. He’s known for his paintings of kids, known as “poulbots”. I have already posted about him and the - false - “poulbots” we now can find as postcards and tourist paintings.
Charles Camoin belonged to the original fauvist group, friend of Matisse.
Suzanne Valadon is definitely the person who, together with her son, Maurice Utrillo, has marked the place, living here for years. Starting as a model, she became herself a renowned painter. She has been portrayed by many of those days’ leading painters, some of them also her lovers,  … and by herself.

Maurice Utrillo was thus Suzanne Valadon’s (and Renoir’s?) son. Very bohemian, often drunk, a bit crazy… he has left a very large number of typical Montmartre paintings.
André Utter was Suzanne Valadon’s second official (very young) husband. He painted, but also managed Suzanne’s and Maurice’s “business”.
André Antoine was an actor, director, theater manager. He’s considered as the inventor of more modern, realistic theatre staging. For a while he managed a theatre in Paris which still is named after him.
Léon Bloy was a novelist, essayist, pamphleteer and poet. Authors like Graham Greene, Jorge Luis Borges, John Irving… have said to have been influenced by him and refer to him in their works.
Pierre Reverdy is known as a leading surrealist poet, friend of Apollinaire, Max Jacob, André Breton, Tzara, Picasso, Braque, Matisse… He had a love affair with Coco Chanel … but then retired quite young.
Démétrios Galanis lived here some 50 years. Painter and engraver, friend of Picasso and exhibiting with him and also with Matisse, Gris, Dufy, Chagall, Braque… he was also professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, member of the French Academy…
A last look at the museum and the garden , Suzanne Valadon’s studio and the tree, where I believe they have the intention to put a swing, to commemorate Renoir's “Balançoire”.


Along Rue Oberkampf

Rue Oberkampf is an ordinary street in the 11th arrondissement, which during the 18th and 19th century developed with a lot of small industries and was inhabited by their workers. Today, there is an architectural and social mix, with some old, disappearing activities, some popular bars and restaurants…

There is a place on Rue Oberkampf, where urban artists are allowed to “perform” in an official way. A large wall is since a couple of years officially dedicated to urban art. Every ten or fifteen days you will see a new decoration. Behind this is an association called the M.U.R. (see link to their site) (I’m a member), sponsored by the City of Paris, Centre Pompidou, Cartier, Canal+…
Watching a “performance” the other day, I made a little walk in the immediate neighbourhood and discovered some nice “passages”, alleys, more particularly the “Cité du Figuier” (fig-tree). There are many similar sites here and elsewhere in Paris. You must learn to look to the right and the left and push some gates.

The “Cité du Figuier” used thus to be full of small workshops and to be inhabited by the workers. It has definitely a lot of charm, although the workshops today are more linked to art, publishing, architect offices…
As you can see from the top photo, people who work or live here seem to have adopted bikes as a major means of transportation. The bikes are parked under the fig-tree.
In some porches you can find some old signs of previous activities and also some new illustrations.
Entering the alley, you will pass in front of the little home of the “gardienne”. Only the cat observed me.
Here are some more pictures from other alleys in the neighbourhood…
… some with an even stronger past industrial aspect.


Jesuits in Paris

Some four years ago, I very briefly mentioned the what is mostly referred to as the Saint-Paul Church, but where the full name should be the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, in a post. Last week I had the opportunity to make a closer visit, together with someone who also could open the gates to the present “Lycée Charlemagne”, which used to be a Jesuit convent, of which the church was part.

Around 1580, the Jesuits started to occupy this area. A chapel was built, in 1641 replaced by the church we know today; to some extent using the Jesuit mother church, Chiesa del Gesu in Rome, as model in a baroque style. The Cardinal Richelieu held the first mass.

Originally, the Church was called after Saint Louis, but after the Revolution the nearby Saint-Paul parish church, of which we still can see some traces, was demolished and the Saint-Louis Church, became the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, toady thus mostly referred to as Saint-Paul. I made again a comparison between 1739 and today.

A small “parenthesis”: The Jesuit movement, Society of Jesus, was founded by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) in 1534 – at Montmartre, in what was called the Martyrium, a small downhill chapel (rebuilt). (You can visit it certain afternoons, - 11 rue Yvonne Le Tac -,not so much to see, but there is a lot of history about the place – Saint Denis, Saint Bernard, Thomas Becket….)
The Jesuit movement has had its ups and downs. The Jesuits remained in the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church and its convent until they were expelled from France in 1763.

The facade is in heavy need of restoration.
The interior, still beautiful, lost a lot of its decorative elements during the Revolution.
Today you may notice a painting by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) and a sculpture by Germain Pilon (1525-1590). (See previous post 1, 2, about Pilon.)

The ceiling (see top picture) is impressive. You can read the letters “IHS” (the first three letters for Jesus in Greek), the seal of the “company”, and “MA” for Maria.

Also the original organ disappeared during the Revolution and the existent one is more recent (basically 19th century). Some prominent musicians have been active in the Church, especially during the Jesuit times, e.g. Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704). His “Te Deum” was performed here in 1690, well known by Europeans, opening all Eurovision broadcasting. Another one was Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), organist in the Church.

The surrounding buildings, then the convent, thus today occupied by the well-known high-school, “Lycée Charlemagne”, date also basically from the 17th century.
Not so much left of the interior, but some parts have been saved. You can see the main staircase, with its decorated ceiling...
... and in the neighbour building some other stairs leading to...
... the apartments of the “Father Confessor”, where lived François d’Aix La Chaize (1624-1709), better known as “Père Lachaise”, confessor of Louis XIV during 34 years and who gave his name to the Père Lachaise Cemetery (see previous post). (He later, or also, lived at a Jesuit property, on the land which now is occupied by the cemetery.) A contemporary personality who “perfomed” in the Church and is buried there was Louis Bourdalou (1632-1704), particularly known as fabulous preacher, who attracted crowds, the esteem by leading contemporary and later intellectuals (Corneille, Racine, Voltaire…), often preached at Versailles… His sermons lasted long and the women obviously more or less discretely made use of “personal potties”, which in French also are named “bourdalous”. It is said that this may have given the English word “loo”.