Friday, 11 March 2011

Around Paris: Museum Visit - Petit Palais

For the tourist, as well as the locals, one of the best deals in Paris is to visit the Petit Palais - admission is free, except for the special exhibitions. Designed by Charles Girault and built for the universal exhibition in 1900, it now houses the permanent collection of the City of Paris Museum of Fine Arts (musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris).

 
"Petit Palais" means a small palace. 

It is located on Avenue Winston Churchill, very near the Champs Elysées, across from the Grand Palais. Classic elements such as the ionic columns around the façade and the back, the dome,... 
...and the grand porch are among the outstanding architectural features of this edifice, much like the other beautiful buildings around Paris. 

As soon as you enter, explore with your eyes - all around - in the space, from the ceiling to the walls and to the floor. In between, you will find the intricate building's interior details and the art objects.
The courtyard is octi-circular in shape. Spring color is now abloom.
Among the landscape elements is this pond.  
 There is a place to sit and eat at the café restaurant. The outdoor sitting area is much desired by most on a lovely day. 
Art objects are displayed indoors and outdoors and there are bronze statues scattered in this area.  In this same picture, you can see the mosaic floor design.  There are others just as beautiful in the other parts of the Petit Palais. 
Look up and see the painted pattern on the ceiling.
This place fills up on good-weather days in the spring and summer, especially on the weekends. People come to meet, to walk around the courtyard and be delighted by the beauty around, or just to enjoy taking the sun. Then, some take the time to see the exhibitions, too. Alot two to three hours to visit.

Back inside, it is typical to see groups of school kids here taking a tour as part of their art immersion program in school. Toward the back is the bookstore, and to the right is the entry to the Tuck Collection of 18th century furniture and furnishings. Here's a sampling:
l'art de Louie XV
Chaise a porteurs 1700-1715
(gold-leafed wood, sculpted and painted)    

A perspective view of the rest of the exhibit
Paravent      1735
Jacque de Lajoue
(Paris, 1686 - Paris, 1761)
Fauteuil à la reine     vers 1760-1775
(Queen's armchair with the same theme as the set of tapestries)
Groupe Le marchand de coeurs    vers 1738 -1750
Johann-Joachim Kändler
(Seligstadt ou Fischbach, 1706 - Meissen, 1775)
Ernest-Jules Renoux, artist
The objects he brought with him for outdoor painting: mounted parasol, leather/wooden stool, easel, canvass, water-color boxes, paint palett

It's time to descend to see the other collections.
This masterpiece was the work of some very talented students at the art academy.

The museum displays a remarkable number of collections - of paintings and sculptures and other works of art. There are paintings by Renaissance artists like Rembrandt, Rubens, Nicolas Poussin, Claude Gellee, Fragonard plus a host of others.
L'Enlevement de Prosephine    vers 16-14-1615
Petrus-Paulus Rubens
(Siegen (Westphalie), 1577 - Anvers, 1640)
Le Massacre des Innocents     vers 1626-1627
Nicolas Poussin
(Les Andelys, 1594 - Rome, 1665)

From the Dutuit Collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings, drawings and other objets d'art - 
 Doré et la tradition chrétienne XIXc collection:
La Vallée de Larmes
Gustave Doré 
(Strasbourg, 1832 - Paris, 1883)
 Le Christ
Léon Bonnat 
(Bayonne, 1833 - Monchy-Saint-Eloi (Oise) 1922)
La Vierge et l'Enfant      vers 1500-1504
Giovanni Battista Cima
(Conegliano, (?) 1459/1460 - Conegliano (?) 1517/1518)
Add caption
Vierge a la l'Enfant avec sainte Dorothee, sainte Catharine et deux anges musiciens 1500
Ecole Lombard

From the Renaissance Italie Collection
 La Vierge et l'Enfant, deux séraphins et la colombe du Saint Esprit
ATelier d'Andrea Della Robbia (Florence, 1435 - 1525)
Vierge a l'Enfant avec saint Jean Baptiste et deux anges    vers 1470-1530
Tommaso
Coffre de marriage
Le majolique Italienne  
(decorated earthenware)

And add to that some 19th century painters and sculptors including Ingres, Géricaul, Delacroix, Courbet, Monet, Isley, Pisarro, Cezanne, Modigliani, Carpeaux, Maillol, Rodin, and more.
From the Cezanne et la Modernité Paris 1900 collection:
Vieil Homme au Bâton 
Paul Gaugin  

(Paris, 1848 - Autona (Iles Marquises), 1903)
Baigneuses à Perros-Guirec
Maurice Denis
(Granville, 1870 - Saint Germain-en-Laye, 1943)

From the Monet et la Peinture Paysage XIXe Siècle Collection
Le Pont Royale et la Pavilion Flore
Camille Pisaro
(Saint-Thomas (Antilles Danoises) 1830 - Paris, 1903)

L'Eglise de Moret (Le soir) 1984
Alfred Sisley
(Paris, 1939 - Moret-sur-Loing, 1989)
Claire de Lune à Overschie (environ de Rotterdam) 1855
Johann Bathold Jongkind
(Latrop Overijsel (Pays-Bas), 1819 - Saint-Egreve (Isère), 1891)
Soleil couchant sur la Seine a Lavacourt 1880
Claude Monet
(Paris, 1840 - Giverny (Eure), 1926)
Le Départ de l'enfant prodigue     1863
James Tissot
Nantes, 1836 - chateau de Buillon (Doubs), 1902

Le Retour de l'enfant prodigue      1862
James Tissot 
(Nantes, 1836 - chateau de Buillon (Doubs), 1902)

     Les Funérailles de Charles le Bon, comte de Flandre, célébrées a Bruges, en l'eglise SAint-Christophe, le 22 avril 1127     1876
Jan Van Beers
(Lierre (Belgique), 1852 - Fay-aux-Loges (Loiret), 1927)
La Confidence     vers 1873
Jean-Baptists Carpeaux
(Valenciennes, 1827 - Courbevoie, 1875)

Guimard et l'Art nouveau Collection
Miss Ella Carmichaël     1906
Edmond Aman-Jean
(Chévry-Cossigny (Seine-et-Marne), 1858 - Paris, 1936)

The Petit Palais has the most extensive collective of icons. Here are a few pieces from the l'art de l'icon - Monde Chretienne Occidentale:
Vierge a l'Enfant avec saint Jean Baptiste, saint Bathélemy, sainte Madeleine et sainte Marguerite     Florence XVe Siecle
Attributed to Ventura di Moro 
Adoration des Mages     fin du XVe siécle
Flandre
La Cène     Greece 


Moyenne Âge et Renaissance
Left: La Nativite     vers 1525
Attellier de Niklaus Wechmann 
(Ulm, Allemagne du Sud)

Reliquaire de la Vraie Croix

(Reliquaries for pieces of the true cross)
Ssinte Marguerite     vers 1520
(Sud de la Souabe, Allemagne)

Monde Grec     Antiquité
Deux pleureuses     Debut de 111e siécle avant J.C.
( Production: Canosa)
Cratére en calice     ver 360e siécle avant J.C.

What I have featured here is just a minute fraction of what there is.  There are, literaIly,  hundreds and hundreds more. I apologize for the picture quality. The colors that came out were not always true colors due to the lighting and the reflection of the glass. 

Art pieces are appreciated more up close as you analyze the strokes, the colors, the texture, the theme, and get more sense and feel of the artist as you look each piece. Art appreciation is the beholder's feedback - you finish the painting, the sculpture, or any other objets d'art  with your thoughts and lasting impressions.

You can rent an audioguide or opt to join a guided tour. There are printed guides in most sections.
On exhibition now is Jean-Louis Forain (1852-19310 'la Comédie parisienne' from March 10 to June 5, 2011. Jean-Louis Forain was a satirist. He delivered his messages via his artistic expressions about the bourgeoisie and the less desirable aspects of Parisian society. The exhibition unveiled more than two hundred of his works in oil, watercolors, pastels, engravings and drawings. From Impressionism to Expressionism, his themes were most always about everyday life.

You are all invited to come and see this one. 

Petit Palais

Avenue Winston Curchill 75008 Paris

Open Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

METRO Stop: Champs Elysées/Clemençeau

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Around Paris: Church Visit - Eglise de la Madeleine

Going to a church is somewhat like going to a museum, when you are sight-seeing. Take the case of l'Eglise de la Madeleine ( the Church of St. Mary Magdalene). On the onset, it looks like the Greek Parthenon was transported into the middle of Paris. Looking back at the history behind this place, we get to learn about some historical events, the social tone of the times, classical art, architecture, and the culture.

There were two attempts to build a church on this site. In 1757, Pierre Constant d'Ivry designed one that was based after the late Baroque style of the church at Les Invalides, with a dome rising above a cross structure. Construction begun in 1764 but d'Ivry died in 1777, and was replaced by Guillaume-Martin Couture, who decided to start over with another design.

Couture made one based after the Roman Pantheon. After the foundation was laid, the work was discontinued after the outbreak of the French Revolution. A debate arose as to what the use of the building was going to be.

In 1806, Napoleon I commissioned Pierre Alexandre Barthélémy Vignon to build something based on an old temple, sort of a hall of fame for the grand army - Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée. That did not get far either. This project was eclipsed by the plans for the Arc de Triomphewhich was to be a symbolic monument commemorating the triumphant return of the soldiers from the Napoleonic wars. This project came to a stop during the Napoleonic Wars.

After the French Revolution, came the Catholic reaction during the Restoration. King Louie XVIII decided that the site would be used as a church. Vignon died in 1828, with an uncompleted project, and was replaced by Jacques-Marie Huvé. And finally in 1842, after 85 years and several attempts, it was consecrated as a church.
L'Eglise de la Madeleine is located in the heart of the Place de la Madeleine in the 8th arrondisement, at the end of rue Royale. The structure is neo-classical.
 Lamaire designed the "Last Judgment" theme-relief of the pediment.
There are 52 Corinthian-style columns, 20 meters high, around the exterior of the building.
When the front doors are closed together, the different metal-relief sections depict the "Ten Commandments."
A reminder - about the dress code and decorum, while visiting the church.
Church interior: There is a knave...
 with 3 domes, through which natural light passes through. 
This is a window-less edifice. It is very dark unless the lighting fixtures are turned on.
The decorative trims and other interior-design details are lavishly gilded, as inspired by the Renaissance artists. 

Main altar features
This is a very dark church on a regular day. But today, it was by divine appointmemnt that I happened  to come for a visit and all the lights were lit up for a scheduled, daily mass. When mass was over, I hurriedly took pictures to take advantage of the bright lights, to get better pictures.
Above the rear altar is the statue of St. Mary Magdalene being assumed into heaven by two angels, as designed by Charles Marochetti.
In this half dome, the frescoe by Jules-Claude Ziegler is entitled The History of Chistianity. It shows the main figures in the Christian religion, but somehow Napoleon ended up being on center stage, looking like the main figure.
This is the pulpit that was used in the past to preach to the faithful. One would wonder how the seats were configured then, as this is almost half-way down the middle of the church.
There are six side altars, just like this one. Each has a different statue above the altar.
There's a side altar dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes. The faithful light up candles for their intentions and petitions, to send their prayers up to heaven through the intercession of our Lady.
Walking down the center aisle towards the back door...
to the left is the gift shop...
and to the right is the Baptistry -  a scene of St. John the Baptist baptising Jesus.
Right above the back doors is the organ loft.
The church's pipe organ, reputed to be one of the very best in Paris, was built by Aristide Cavaillé-Cool (1811-1899). The composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré were both organists at the Madeleine, and the funeral masses for them and Frédéric Chopin were held here. Chopin's final resting place is at the Cimetière du Père Lachaise; Saint-Saëns  at Cimetière de Montparnasse; and Gabriel Fauré at Cimetiere de Passy.

Here are some notes about these people: 
Frédéric Chopin was the great Polish composer. Please take a listen to one of his compositions "Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Op. 9" performed by Horowitz.  
Camille Saint-Saëns was a French pianist, organist and composer, who became the first classical composer to be commissioned to write a musical score for a movie. Although he did not reach the same prominence of Chopin, Wagner, or Liszt, he was an accomplished composer. Here is a sampling of his work "Bacchanale - Samson et Delila.
Gabriel Fauré's major work was "Requiem  in D "Minor" with the famous soprano part "Pie Jesu." Here is the original version of "Pie Jesu."

I can just now imagine the kind of magnificent, classical music that was performed in this church during those gone-by days.
The masses and other religious affairs are under the management of a Benedictine abbey. Aside from masses, concerts continue to be regularly held here, with free admission. Please note some of the concert dates.
On a good day like today, people sit around the church steps to eat lunch, to get some vitamin D, or just to hang out with their friends. It is like a concrete park where the benches are the steps.
There is a flower market to the right side of the church. Do visit and be thrilled by just looking at the beautiful flowers, or buy - perhaps, to give away or keep for yourself.
It's the season for tulips, hyacinths,  daffodils and other flowering bulbs.
Here are some mimosas, camelias, paper roses, and lilies.
Potted flowering plants - ready to give a way or to bring home to adorn and brighten any room in the house.
Choose a vase and they can make a flower arrangement for you, or you may make one yourself.

I will be back here on Ash Wednesday - the first day of Lent, after celebrating fat tuesday. It is a day of fasting and repentance. It is 40 days before Easter. It is at this time that the whole of Christendom will reflect on the message of salvation and eternal life. To be quiet and meditative, I have found a good spot at the Eglise de la Madeleine.

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