Medici Fountain

I already posted about the Luxembourg Gardens, a long time ago (see here), but passing by the other day, I thought that the Medici Fountain was worth a new and specific post.

It dates from about 1630 and was created on the initiative of Maria de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV, regent of the young Louis XIII (and grandmother of Louis XIV). This was part of the decoration she wanted in the park that surrounded the Medici Palace (today Luxembourg Palace) which was built for her 1623-30. As a Medici, she was of course much influenced by and wanted things to have a resemblance with what she had known in Florence, the Pitti Palace, the Boboli Gardens….

What we today refer to as a fountain, was originally a “grotto” and it had no water basin in front of it. Different modifications took place during the centuries, but the major one, around 1860, when the Haussmannian major city plan modifications took place, including wider streets. The “grotto” had to be moved – some 30 meters (100 ft). On the plan from 1739 we can see where it originally stood and where it stands today.
When the “grotto” was displaced, some major modifications were also made. The beautiful basin was added.
Some statues in bad shape were replaced and especially, what we now see in the middle, a new group of statues, was created (by Auguste Ottin), representing the Cyclope Polyphemus, son of Poseidon (in bronze), discovering the lovers Acis and Galatea (in marble), possibly as a reference to the renaissance period, when this tale obviously was in fashion.
The 17th century composer Lully (and later Haendel) wrote music about the theme.

As the buildings which originally stood behind the grotto had disappeared, something had to be done to the empty back side. Another fountain, which originally stood in the corner of the nearby Rue Vaugirard and Rue du Regard, “Leda and the Swan”, had also to be removed because of the new large streets and avenues and it fitted quite well to the empty back side. So there it is now … in need of some restoration or cleaning.


Once more... Street Art

There is so much going on with Street Art at present, so I have (the pleasure) to make another report! For the first time, a “Street Art Paris” market took place last week (June 20-22), occupying the Place Saint Sulpice, in front of the church (see previous post), which recently has got its second tower restored.
A number of specialised galleries and a great number of artists were present or represented, too many to be named here.

Here are some more examples of what could be seen.
Some of the artists were performing on the spot.
On these last photos you can see my friends from “Galerie Ligne 13” together with Jérome Mesnager and FKDL being interviewed.


Fête de la Musique

The “Fête de la Musique” was organised for the first time in France in 1982. It is now celebrated in more than 100 countries. It takes place June 21, summer solstice. So, this year for the 30th time.

It brings out large crowds, especially in the evening hours and if the weather is correct. This year was a bit gray, but the evening was quite fine, just one local shower around midnight.

I made a tour of some events; you can’t see and listen to everything. All kinds of playing and singing take place in every street, in many bars and restaurants, in churches…

Here are some afternoon photos from the Luxembourg Gardens.
Some other shots from a bit “everywhere”.
There was of course music along the Seine banks, but also on many of the boats.
Early evening I went to the medieval Collège des Bernardins (see previous post) where a concert of Mongolian music was proposed. It’s of course very “special”, but I like a lot and the performing three artists, “Ensemble Enkjargal”, were just incredible! Below is a little sample of what it can sound like. There were some chairs, but most of us were sitting on the floor. A fantastic atmosphere! (I have now planned a visit to Mongolia, not only for the music, but also…)

Later in the evening I went to a concert given by the “Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France”, directed by Paavo Järvi. We listened to Schumann for about an hour. Again we were sitting on the floor. Guess where it took place? (See also top picture, where the orchestra is slightly mirrored.)
Coming back home, I could still enjoy the music from the nearby bars.


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Street Art ... again

There are a lot of Street Art (see previous posts) activities going on at present. The Street Artists get more and more support from the City, from galleries…

One City sponsored (4th arrondissement) event was the spectacular enormous self-portrait (world's largest?) by “Jef Aerosol”, covering one of the blind house facades at Place Igor Stravinsky - with its moving statues by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely (see previous post) - close to Beaubourg (Centre Pompidou – see previous post) and the Saint Merry Church (see previous post). I passed by when the work was in preparation and Jef was escalating the scaffolding and got interviewed by different media…
… and I returned last Saturday to watch the official inauguration. If weather and taggers permit, this will remain here at least until 2014. The gesture is “chuuuuttt!!” (shh! Hush!), meaning a suggestion, perhaps not really to silence, but rather to a respect of the environing art, music centre, church…
While waiting for the official inauguration ceremony, we had the nice surprise to listen to an improvised concert by a girl’s choir, “Cantus” from Latvia. The girls had the preceding days been singing at Notre Dame, the Madeleine Church and Versailles and were on their way to Belgium for other concerts. The choir leader received a signed gift by Jef.

Another City sponsored event (17th arrondissement) took place last Thursday, just in front of the local Town Hall. “Mosko et associés”, “Mesnager” and “Artiste Ouvrier”, peformed together for a common work, which later was brought into the Town Hall, where they expose until July 9, together with “Le Cyclop”, who in the meantime seriously improved the look of some street poles (and "Mesnager" decorated a tree).
Some pictures from the indoor exposition.  


Bastille ... Revolutions

I already posted about Place de la Bastille and the Bastille prison, tried to describe what it looked like, where it stood until it was attacked July 14th, 1789, what remains….
It took about a year, to have it completely demolished. It was then decided to make an open place here, celebrating liberty, and to erect a column.

However, Napoleon had the idea to build a monument in the shape of an elephant. A full scale plaster model was built, but never the real one. In 1833, it was decided to finally build the column originally planned, but now it would be dedicated to another Revolution, the 1830 July one. The column was inaugurated in 1840.
The other evening I was invited to a vernissage close to Place de la Bastille. On the way home, seeing the “Colonne de Juillet” (the July Column) reflected in some windows, including in those of the Bastille Opera, I thought I should have a closer look at it.
There are no pedestrian crossings to reach the middle of the place, so to reach it, and leave it, involved some danger, but as the serious blogger I am, I took the risk.

So, the column celebrates the “three glorious days” in July 1830, a second Revolution, which led to the replacement of Charles X by Louis-Philippe and what was supposed to be a more liberal constitution. In the meantime, there had been some 615 victims. You can read their names on the column. On the top of the column we find the “Génie de la Liberté” (Spirit of Freedom) with broken chains and the torch of civilisation. (Louis Philippe had to leave in 1848 after a third Revolution and the names of some additional 200 victims were added on the column.)
Hector Berlioz composed for the inauguration of the column the “Grand Funeral and Triumphal Symphony”. (You can listen to part of it in a version by the London Symphony Orchestra / Colin Davis – the illustration is the famous painting representing the 1830 Revolution by Delacroix – “Liberty Leading the People”.)

Not quite a revolution, but close to the place – on which they were not allowed - there was a little crowd of “indignés”, imitating the “indignados” of Puerta del Sol in Madrid.
Not bothering too much about such matters, there was already, in the early evening, a crowd of young people in the nearby famous rue de Lappe, previously famed for a number of cafés owned by natives from the Auvergne region, later more known for javas, musettes… Now remains one typical Auvergne restaurant and the “Balajo”… and a lot of clubs, bars and shops according to today’s fashion.

Addendum, June 16, afternoon:

Claude reminded me kindly about this song by Arisitide Bruant (1851-1925), recorded around 1910. The poster is of course by Toulouse-Lautrec.