Window-licking. The French go window-licking while Americans go window shopping. Deanna and I went out to find 2 rue de Grenelle where the fictional heroine in the book, the Essence of the Hedgehog, lives. We didn’t find it but we licked a lot of Windows. At 8 PM on a lovely Thursday night, the cafes are crowded. An Irish pub, Ha’penny, just down the street celebrates with everyone wearing big, goofy green hats and raising a pint! Many of the shops start closing around 8 PM like the flower shop called, the Name of the Rose, the fruit stands, the patisseries, the spice shops, the wine shops – each one a jewel of specialization.
Today, we went early to Le Musee d’Orsay, the railway station turned enormous art gallery. What a thrill to see the originals of some of the Impressionists. Manet’s Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe, dit aussi Le Bain, puis La Partie carree of 1863 scandalized Paris as the lone nude was a woman picnicking with 2 fully clothed men, and she was looking straight at the artist without a bit of fluster. Shocking!! A group of grade school children sat before it as a docent instructed them on thIs work of art. Wonder what they thought. There were lots of groups of school children in the museum today of all ages.
We saw many wonderful canvases, sculptures and bronzes. Deanna loves Pissarro, so she snapped many photos of his art. He was a generous man who encouraged the younger Impressionists. As a young man, he fell in love with a servant in his parents’
home. When they started to live together, his mother had a fit. The couple had a number of children but could not get married until much later. His mother never relented, but he remained devoted to both of them. Pissarro taught his children art, and, according to Deanna who knows these things, the Seattle Art Museum has a painting by his son, Lucien Pissarro.
Other favorites included Millet’s The Gleaners which was a social commentary on the back-breaking work of the peasant women. Only the poorest of the poor could glean and then only in the briefest period. In the background is the overseer on horseback and the tall mounds of the rich harvest of wheat forbidden to the women. I also saw Manet’s Olympia, Paul Cezanne’s still life’s, and Vincent van Gogh’s self portrait (he died at 37!) among othe memorable works. There’s a whole section of art nouveau furniture which is lovely with all the sensuous curvilinear lines.
Tomorrow: the Carnevelet, museum on the history of Paris.