In our recent visit to the Musee d’Orsay, we came across this striking portrait:
Albert Bartholomé, In the Conservatory (Madame Bartholomé), c. 1881
The circumstances behind In the Conservatory by Albert Bartholomé are tragic. Painted in 1881, the artist depicted his wife Prospérie de Fleury (nee Madame Bartholomé) who sadly died in 1887, just six years after this portrait was executed. However, this portrait is also noteworthy in that the cotton day dress that Madame Bartholomé is wearing in the portrait survives to this day. Below are some pictures of the dress:
Here’s a closer view that shows off the details:
This dress definitely reads Mid-Bustle Era with the cuirass bodice and relatively cylindrical profile; there is a train and bustle present but it’s relatively restrained with the train spreading out rather than flowing towards the rear. The combination of colors and the pleating effect are amazing and they are just as striking “live” as well as in the portrait. The bodice is constructed of a white cotton with purple polka dots. On the other hand, the sleeves consists of white cotton with broad purple vertical stripes. The skirt is pleated such that there are white under-folds while purple dominates on the outside- definitely a unique effect. What’s especially nice is that we have both the portrait and the subject’s dress so we can compare them; it’s rare that you get this situation. Unfortunately, the dress was not on display but still, it was nice to be able to at least view the portrait up close and in person. Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to view the dress… 🙂
After an early flight out of Charles De Gaulle Airport, we finally arrived in LA 10 1/2 ours later and none the worse for wear. In contrast to the 40-some degree rainy weather, LA is clear and 90 degrees- quite a contrast and needless to say, all our winter clothes will go into storage until the next time we head for Europe. It’s good to be home and now begins the process of sorting through all the treasures that we acquired during our week in Paris. Oh, and catch up on the jet lag… 😚
Today we decided to take advantage of the rainy Parisian weather to visit the Musée l’Orangerie in the hopes of getting a close-up view of Claude Monet’s Nymphéas paintings. As we’ve posted before, the Nymphéas paintings depict a series of ponds with water lilies that existed around his house at Giverny. In the two viewing rooms at l’Orangerie, there are eight water lily paintings that surround the viewer, following the oval shape of the walls, each painting depicting water lilies at different times of the day, starting with the morning ending in the evening. The effect is simply incredible. Here’s a picture of one of the two viewing rooms from the official website:
When we arrived, we were happy to see that there weren’t many visitors and in contrast with our last visit in February, we were able to closely view the various paintings unhindered. It was a delight, to be sure. Here’s just a few pictures that we took there; they’re more pieces since it’s difficult to get complete pictures, especially since the walls curve:
Of course, the colors are the first major draw and they depict the the scenes at different times of the day. The blues and greens are especially striking and have been the source of inspiration for a number of our designs. What was also interesting was that Monet used different brush strokes in his paintings, ranging from broad lines in his morning pictures to dots of paint in some of the afternoon and evening pictures. Also, in some areas, paint was layered on thick to the point where they created their own distinct textures and in others, the paint was layered on thinly. Overall, the effect is amazing and it was nice to be able to closely study the paintings. As for inspiration, there’s more in the future here at Lily Absinthe! 🙂
Today we decided to chance the rain and make a pilgrimage to Père Lachaise Cemetery to visit the tomb of Oscar Wilde. Located in eastern Paris in the 20th Arrondisement, getting to the cemetery entailed a rather long bus trip across Paris. Upon arrival, we consulted a map, and after some hiking around, we located Oscar Wild’s grave. Compared to the Cimetière de Montmartre, this cemetery is huge…so huge that you could fit the entire town of Tombstone in it and still have room left over (OK, may we exaggerate a bit there…). Here’s some views that we got:
The tomb with its Sphinx-like figure is a fascinating piece of artwork and was executed by the artist Jacob Epstein and the circumstances of its creation were somewhat controversial, especially since the original designs involved figures with extensive genitalia. For an interesting overview, click HERE. You’ll note that there’s a glass barrier surrounding the lower part of the tomb- that’s to prevent contact with the stone- for many years, there was a tradition of kissing the tombstone while wearing red lipstick. Cleaning the lipstick kisses off actually made the stone more porous and thus, more susceptible to deterioration so in 2011, the glass barrier was installed.
Initially opened in 1804, the cemetery houses a large number of graves of various notable people. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we weren’t able to view them all but we did manage to get this picture of the writer Richard Wright’s tomb, really more of a place where his ashes are interred:
And this one is of Alphonse Bertillon, French criminologist who invented one of the first widely used method, the Bertillon System, of identifying individuals:
It was a very humbling experience visiting Père Lachaise Cemetery and we definitely want to return to view it more in detail.
The musee de jour is the Toulouse-Lautrec Exhibit at the Grand Palais and it was simply amazing. This is probably one of the largest exhibitions of his work ever staged and it featured both his well-known as well as lesser known works. We wisely arrived early to avoid the crowds (something we’d recommend visiting any museum exhibition in Paris) and we were quickly admitted.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a multi-talented artist, working in various mediums to include paints, pastels, and graphic poster printing. Much of his work centered on Monmarte and its brothels and the Moulin Rouge which opened in 1889 and he depicted scenes in a realistic manner but stripped of any glamour, simply showing the humanity underneath, and in the case of the brothel scenes, just how depressing it was. Below are some of his works that we found especially interesting:
This one was more of a study rather than a finished work but it’s fascinating in that he captures the individual in motion.
One of numerous examples of his work with posters.
This one is only a segment of a larger work (I wasn’t able to pull back and get the full work because of the crowds).
This one is especially fascinating with the sitter’s facial expression- it looks positively predatory which is no surprise, given the world Toulouse-Lautrec worked in. Overall, this was an excellent exhibition and provides a fascinating view of a multi-talented artist who portrayed a realistic slice of life while at the same time battling his own personal demons. This was a sobering visual experience and we’ll be thinking about this exhibition for quite some time.