Liberté, egalité, fraternité.
The Museé de l’Orangerie in Paris is filled with many beautiful works of art. This is not one of them. That’s my opinion anyway. There’s just something about the peoples’ faces that weirds me out.
La Carriole du Père Junier – Henri Rousseau, 1908
But. But! There are two amazing things about this painting. First of all, the boy in the carriage seems to be wearing a t-shirt with some sort of werewolf, or dog (weredog?) on it…
Which, if so, is obviously completely random for something painted in 1908. I mean, not that werewolves, or dogs (or weredogs) didn’t exist back then…but would someone be wearing a t-shirt sporting the image of one? Remember, ‘Twilight’ hadn’t been invented yet — Team Jacob wouldn’t exist for at least another 100 years. Was Henri Rousseau so prescient as to have predicted the advent of Stephenie Meyers’ literary juggernaut and the impact it would have on pop culture? Also, I have trouble imagining that kid would be allowed to wear a t-shirt in the first place. This was the early 1900s. People didn’t wear t-shirts, they wore suits with stiff collars and cravats! Especially for a jaunt around the park in the family carriage. Why is the boy dressed so differently from everyone else? These little details stand out, and I like them!
The second pleasing thing about this piece is the juxtaposition in size between the horse and the tiny dog trotting alongside it:
I mean, that is really quite great.
So overall, it is a somewhat creepy painting, but with some excellent redeeming features.
Aside from Monet’s water lilies, this was my favourite painting at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris:
It’s called ‘La nièce du peintre’ by André Derain.
I love this painting, which was hanging in one of the rooms at Versailles. I love what everyone is wearing, especially Josephine.
If you are ever in Paris, stay at the Hotel Nicolo. It’s a close walk to the Eiffel Tower, they serve amazing breakfasts (mmmm…baguette…), and here is a picture of the courtyard garden:
Here’s what I kept thinking about as I was strolling through the vast and beautiful gardens at Versailles: imagine being Louis XIV, standing on the stone steps leading down to them from the Palace, surveying the land and thinking “this is mine”. Not that you can ever really own nature, of course. The trees, the water, the sky, the air — the raw materials that form the essence of these gardens cannot be bought or sold.
I dunno, you guys. The palace, with all its finery and priceless works of art, was pretty impressive. But the gardens were richer in the kind of beauty that nourishes the soul and makes you want to live forever. That is true inspiration. In the end, is there any treasure created from gold or silver that could possibly be worth more than that?
For some reason that I can’t quite explain, in the weeks leading up to this vacation I was obsessed with the idea of visiting Versailles. I’ve actually been there before, but not since I was 17 on a class trip to France. Being your typical high school student at the time, I was obviously totally self-involved and unappreciative of my surroundings. I seem to recall my friend Paola and I spending most of our time in France trying to find opportunities to sneak away from our teachers to smoke cigarettes. Ah, money well spent.
Anyway, Versailles is pretty amazing. I remember that I used to think it was way too ornate — all gilt frames and clashing chintzes — but now I love it. I spent an entire day there and took lots of photos, so I’ll be spreading them out over a few posts.
First up is the Palace itself. Apparently Louis XIV was inspired to move the court to Versailles after proclaiming that the Louvre (the formal royal residence) was, at over 14km in length, “too cramped”. But of course. As you would expect, there are many portraits and statues of the Sun King adorning the walls and corridors of Versailles. Modesty was not a highly-rated virtue during this era (at least, not amongst the nobility) — which is kind of great. After all, modesty could not have produced the dazzlingly opulent splendor on display at Versailles, with all of its decadent glory.