Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Unicorn Tapestries

John and I would certainly agree that one of the major treasures of the Cluny Museum is the room with the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry cycle.
 The tapestries, of wool and silk threads, were made in Paris around 1500 and are an incredible achievement. The center of the room is filled with seating so one can study the images from a position of rest. It takes a while to take them in.
 I apologize for the murky interior shots. The lighting is very low to protect the colours so my focusing was frazzled.
 That's John getting up close to shoot some details.
The mille fleurs (thousand flowers) backgrounds and lively animals
 relieve the formal main action
as the virgin tames the unicorn.
We'll leave you with the animals in the borders.
So many rabbits!
All part of the lush Eternal Spring setting.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Montmartre Cemetery

When John and I decided to make a little tour of Montmartre, we decided to start at the cemetery,  Le Cimetière de Montmartre. First we took the metro to Place de Clichy.
Then we made a quick detour along Blvd de Clichy to see the Moulin Rouge. A stop at a center of the history of wild 19th century Parisian entertainment before the graveyard seemed appropriate.
Very nearby is Rue Rachel and the entrance to the Montmartre Cemetery, Smaller and more intimate that Père Lachaise, it is still the resting place of some of the famous and the infamous of Paris.
At the entrance circle you'll find a simple plaque stating that the 18th century painter,  Jean-Honoré Fragonard is buried here.
This striding, vital youth at the entrance circle adorns the grave of Otto Klaus Preis who worked for a 20th century Parisian couturier and amassed a large art collection including this sculpture that he wanted to mark his grave.
I also liked this grave sculpture that contrasted so strongly with the vital, striding youth on Mr Preis's tomb.
John enjoyed photographing the spookier tombs.
In fact the cemetery is much better cared for than when I visited first around 1973.
Then the place seemed to be crumbling. 
Art Nouveau marks a rather grandiose sepulcher.
Although still living, political cartoonist, Siné, bought a large gravesite , topped it with a strange cactus and the quote above, "Mourir ? Plutôt crever!" (Loosely translated as "Death? I'd rather die!)
 J.D. Cadinot made gay porn movies. We questioned the success of the photo shoot that decorates his resting place, especially that white sweatsuit with hoodie!
I loved this old gravestone that has been entirely surrounded by a living tree.
The view over the terraced graveyard.
John on one of the cemetery streets.
Art Nouveau grave of a man likely involved in steam ships.
There are still lots of graveyard cats at Montmartre although they too seem to be better cared for now than in 1973.
Nijinsky's tomb is marked by a sculpture of the dancer in his most famous role as Petrushka.
This pile of sodden ballet pointe shoes marked the grave of the mother of Romantic ballerina, Maria Taglione. Ms Taglione, remembered as the first dancer to go "en pointe" is actually buried in Père Lachaise.
An Orientalist grave marker for a popular Orientalist painter of his day, Gustave Guillaumet.
The cemetery slipped away as we climbed the stairs up to the bridge of Rue Caulincourt
and a little cemetery snack spot on the street. We didn't linger but continued our wander up into Montmartre.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Hôtel de Sully

John and I loved to walk through the elegant Hôtel de Sully whenever going to and from Place des Vosges and Rue Saint-Antoine in the Marais.
The 17th century private palace was built between 1625-1630 in the Louis XIII Style. This is the front entrance.
I love the courtyard of the palace
with its cool decorations
and its pair of sphinx at the stairs.
The formal parterre garden at the rear of the complex looks onto the Orangery and a passage into the Place des Vosges.
The view from the Orangery.
The building now houses the Centre of National Monuments and a bookstore that is worth a visit.