Friday, 27 June 2014

Un autre Paris

Even if you have not visited Paris many of the iconic buildings and places are instantly recognisable. Let's view a different area of Paris that you may be unacquainted with. It is where my eldest son and his family live, a place beloved of the Impressionists.
This map of the Seine shows a large loop in the river where so many of the Impressionists lived, worked, and played. You may wish to refer to this map from time to time as our journey commences.
La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
In the summer of 1869 Monet and Renoir painted side by side in the open air at La Grenouillère (the frog pond). At that time it was a very colourful place, the two friends were drawn to this lively riverbank spot alongside the Seine by its reputation.
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La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Together they developed a new revolutionary style of painting - the five canvasses shown here were painted in situ during 1869 and marked the birth of the impressionist movement.
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La Grenouillère by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
The French writer, Guy de Maupassant, named the floating round platform visible in some of these paintings as 'le camembert' - round cheese or 'pot à fleurs' - the flowerpot.
La Grenouillère by Claude Monet
The floating pontoon besides 'le camembert' was destroyed by fire in 1889 along with the dancehall and bathing huts that stood on it. By the beginning of the 20th century as the fashions and attractions of the river bank began to wane, little by little the various establishments closed their doors.
Bathers at La Grenouillère by Claude Monet
Today it is difficult to imagine what a popular and very lively place this area of the River Seine was way back in those hedonistic days. 
The local residents complained about the 'goings on' down at La Grenouillère - indeed a cleric exclaimed "the many things one sees from Croissy, when looking through a telescope, are indeed shocking to behold!!!"
Today there is a quiet pedestrian promenade where residents walk their dogs, stroll with their babies, ride their bikes, jog or just wander along admiring the peaceful river and the beauty of the trees.
On the other side of the promenade are some grand la belle époque houses sitting in large gardens. 
Enamelled boards can be seen along the riverside showing impressionist works of art displayed in the exact locations where they were originally painted.
The entrance gates to an Arts and Crafts house called Matapao
At the turn of the 20th century the owners kept an elephant called Matapao. Every day they took him down their garden and across the promenade to some steps down the riverbank leading into the Seine. He would have lots of fun splashing around and playing in the water, spraying himself and taking a drink.
A short wander further down the riverbank is Chatou where Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted one of my favourite paintings - Luncheon of the Boating Party, a painting which captures an idyllic atmosphere as Renoir's friends share food, wine, and conversation on a balcony overlooking the Seine at Maison Fournaise.
Maison Fournaise
 On this hot June day it was possible to sense the atmosphere in Renoir's painting. His friends, who have been eating, drinking and enjoying themselves, have just departed to continue their trip up the river 
The next location takes us high up to the wooded slopes on the opposite side of the river in Louveciennes where Louis XV installed Madame du Barry in a local Château

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Le Village de Voisins, Louveciennes - Camille Pissarro 
Le chemin de la Machine, Louveciennes - Alfred Sisley - The Way of the Machine, so called because of King Louis XlV's pumping station down at the bottom of the hillside beside the Seine. This I will show in another post. To the right of this painting is the wall behind which Madame du Barry resided
It is not easy to relate this view to the painting by Sisley as the trees are now so dominant. On his painting Paris is visible in the distance, but now it is necessary to walk to the end of the road and then down the hillside before you get a view of Paris, but...
I found the Pigeonnière hidden behind bushes which is shown on the left-hand side of his painting, then strolled along the leafy boulevard.....
....to see Paris lying at our feet now dominated by La Défense on the horizon
I don't have a good enough camera for distance but with help from 'Picmonkey' I have managed to get nearer into the view
The many little lanes around  Louveciennes felt reassuringly familiar. They make regular appearances during all the seasons of the year in Pissarro's, Sisley's, and Renoir's paintings. 
Le Château du Pont, Louveciennes
This pretty medieval castle with it's imposing entrance was painted by Jeanne Baudot. She was the only student of Auguste Renoir, and was also the author of a book called Renoir, his friends and models. 
She painted the picture from the house where she lived and where Renoir had his workshop 
Renoir's workshop 
♡ on my posts from Paris special thanks go to my dear DiL not only for kindly ferrying us around, but for passing on her knowledge, and continually steering us in the right direction ♡

46 comments:

  1. Dear Rosemary, I am giddy with excitement from reading this post...how wonderful it is to see all those paintings I love so well, coming to life again in the present day. La Grenouillere: I remember struggling to memorise the spelling for my Uni exams, so I could compare and contrast the paintings. Now, of course, I want to go there - will have to study the map a bit more and consider if it is feasible for us. The Belle Epoque house are really lovely, naturally the pink one is my favourite. Also I really like the photo of the modern buildings of Paris, always something I have only seen in the distance. Thank you, great post!

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    1. Dear Patricia - I appreciate your kind comment very much. How exciting it is for you now to be planning your own trip very soon.
      I have visited Paris so many times over the years that I thought it might be interesting to view another aspect of the area. My DiL made herself and car readily available to us, but for several locations it was just a pleasant walk for us to make from their home.

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  2. Dear Rosemary,
    I have goose pimples just seeing Auguste and Monet.. I simply adore there work. I have books to of them both. A strange feeling comes over me, when i look at their works.. i want to pick up a brush and just paint.
    Ironical that you should be in Paris. Miguel and Sasha are there now too. Sasha still maintains her apartment there. They visit often. They both phoned me this morning.
    I only know a little of Paris. I was there many years ago with Mr. M.
    This is a most wonderful post Rosemary. I want to read it again.
    What stories those beautiful homes can tell us , of days gone by in Paris. Aaaaah !!! those naughty men with their binoculars, wishing they too could join in down by the river.
    An elephant in the garden.
    Closing my eyes. I can see how it all must have been.
    Thank you for such an in depth post of two great artists and of lovely paris..
    val x

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    1. Dear Val - delighted that you enjoyed the post, and I agree wholeheartedly with you about the Impressionists.
      The 'naughty' cleric with the telescope was indeed the local priest!!!
      Time to get out those paint brushes Val and do a painting of your lovely home and garden in the style of the Impressionists of course.

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    2. Indeed I must Rosemary.. Inspiration will be from this post..
      "More please"

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  3. One of the most interesting and amazing posts I have read on your blog dear Rosemary. During my academic life,I did one year History of art and specifically Impressionism but never exercised this knowledge professionally. I'm so glad to get another glimpse into the most beautiful period of painting and art, through your expert eye and love for everything beautiful. Thank you, this could be both a lesson of beauty and culture.
    Happy week end!
    Olympia

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    1. Dear Olympia - what a very generous comment. I was really concerned that it was far too long, but it is difficult to précis something down when you are feeling enthusiastic about locations seen which are attached to paintings you love.
      I am very touched by your words - thank you.


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  4. Dear Rosemary,

    I find it very exciting to be seeing the actual locales of well-known (and less well-known) paintings — it gives extra dimension (literally) to the paintings and our understanding and appreciation of them. Friends had a similar expereince in Arles, where the community has continued to plant flowers in a garden, just as Van Gogh painted them. What a delight it must be to share the artists' perspective!

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    1. Dear Mark - I found it very interesting to note that although properties, roads, buildings etc remained almost the same, apart from the usual bits of infilling, it was the encroachment of nature that had made the biggest changes to many of the scenes we are so familiar with.

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  5. I found this post fascinating Rosemary. I'm not familiar with all of the paintings, but loved to see the comparison of them with the scenes as they are today. And I'd agree, looking at the restaurant balconies, it is as if Renoir's party had only just left.

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    1. It was my DiL who suggested that we visit Maison Fournaise. As we walked down the slope towards the restaurant and I saw the lovely setting beside the river, I was very excited and delighted - it was just as I imagined it would be.

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  6. I just loved this post - I am familiar with all of their works - I thought it so clever of you to get shots of the same locations and how little has changed in some of them. Do you remember in the film 'Amelie' when her neighbour kept painting the Renoir picture over and over again.

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    1. I was guided to the correct spots by my DiL and also the boards showing the paintings that have been positioned everywhere by the authorities. Glad you enjoyed seeing them along with the relevant locations.

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  7. It was so wonderful to see your views of Paris, so different from the parts that we visited. It looks as though you had a wonderful time visiting places that are not the typical tourist sights which is so lovely! Wonderful as always. xx

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    1. Dear Amy - I thought that it might be of interest to see other areas of Paris - ones that are not so familiar. However, if it is your first visit to Paris then obviously you would want to head for the main attractions.
      My husband visited Paris often for his work, and I would accompany him. Thank you for your kind comment.

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  8. In the footsteps of the Impressionists! Thanks for this wonderful post, Rosemary! I visit the famous brocante and jambon fair in Chatou twice a year. I'll have to check out La Grenouillère on the next trip.

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    1. I wonder if you have had the opportunity to visit the Maison Fournaise Hotel when you have been in Chatou. I have visited the Brocante and Jambon Fair too when my son lived in Paris previously.

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  9. A lovely story! Love it!
    Warm hug,
    Titti

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    1. That is so sweet of you to say Titti - thank you and take care♡

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  10. So interesting and beautiful. I am fond of the Impressionist´s paintings. And the luncheon on the balcony of maison Fournaise painted by Renoir is a favourite, I can look at it again and again.

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    1. Thank you for your comment Janneke - I feel the same about the painting as you do. May be at some stage I will do a post about all the people that are present in the painting.

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  11. Goodness, the Paris sky-line has changed since I was last there. Oh dear, I've just realised - it was 50 years ago!

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    1. Fear not Nilly - all is still there. If I had shown the photo taken to the right you would have seen the beloved Eiffel Tower standing tall.

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  12. Paris ....my favorite city and my favorite artists, just love the impressionists ! I lived in Paris for 5 years in my youth , but never visited this area , thanks for the tour !

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    1. Dear Jane - you are very fortunate to have lived in so many lovely places.

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  13. A lovely post Rosemary. I have really enjoyed the photos taken from places where painting were done. That must have been fun to research and then to create. Jx

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    1. It was enjoyable Janice but I did have help in the form of the paintings that the authorities have placed besides roads and parks etc showing where the painters sat. My DiL too was a great source of information.

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  14. How beautifully haunting is the painting of Le Château du Pont, Louveciennes Jeanne Baudot. Love it.

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    1. She was an unknown person to me previously but it was interesting to find out more about her - glad that you enjoyed her work Mr Pau.

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  15. Beautiful photos all. Love Renoir and Monet paintings and so interesting hearing some of their history painting their masterpieces. I suppose I'm out of touch, but I didn't realize Paris had high-rise buildings; would have thought they would have been banned as aesthetically unpleasing. Can't fight progress, tho, can we?

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    1. All of the high-rise buildings do not encroach on the city of Paris but have been purposefully kept in the business area of La Défense. La Défense is architecturally quite interesting to visit as there is some revolutionary contemporary architecture to be seen there.

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  16. How wonderful that you can visit your son and his family.
    All the photos are wonderful, and I like the paintings as well, there is a likeness to the photos.

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    1. Thank you Margaret - it is fortunately very easy to visit my son. We left them at their local railway station in Paris at 3.00pm to fly from Charles de Gaulle Airport, and actually arrived home at 8.30pm.

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  17. Paris through the eyes of world famous painters. Top.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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  18. Dear Rosemary,
    you are so lucky that your son lives in such an impressive beautiful surrounding! Thank you for the pictures of Renoir and Monet - the water blinks on Monet's picture - and I believe that their picnics and meetings must have been great fun (and a thorn in the eyes of the bourgeois - now they have their 'calmness' again). I never knew about the elephant! Anais Nin lived in Louveciennes, too, and often wrote about it.
    Thank you for all these wonderful pictures and information!

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    1. Dear Britta - we have had some lovely locations in which to visit our son - first of all he was in the north of Scotland, then Paris, followed by Norway, and now back in beautiful Paris. My DiL told me about the elephant - I love the thought of him splashing around in the Seine.

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  19. You showed us a very different Paris, not the 'well-known' sights, at least when you don't take the many wonderful and well-known paintings in account that you show us as well. So great to find the exact spots those wonderful paintings were made long ago. Must have felt really special.
    Marian

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    1. The paintings took us to some lovely locations to wander around and enjoy. I know the centre of Paris well as my husband worked there regularly over the years and I used to go with him. For me, it is nice to now explore some of the other areas around Paris.

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  20. This is such a lovely post- I loved seeing these wonderful paintings and what the locations look like now. Sarah x

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    1. I am so pleased that you enjoyed seeing it Sarah - I had a lovely time wandering around comparing how things have changed of the over time - the big changes were mainly trees and vegetation.

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  21. Thank you so much for this gorgeous post, Rosemary, which introduced me to a part of Paris completely unknown to me, though I do of course recognise the paintings. I love the way you searched out the exact viewpoints from which the paintings were made and like you marvel at how a once-favoured pleasure area has completely vanished over the years. Truly fascinating.


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    1. That is so kind of you Perpetua, I really appreciate your kind comment. As you can probably imagine I had a great time wandering around these beautiful areas picturing how it was during the 19th century and how things change. DiL was very good at directing us to all the locations that I was particularly interested in.

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  22. I've never seen that view of Paris before, Rosemary. So thank you for that. What a picturesque holiday, what a beatufiful setting. Those stone walls, those leafy trees, the chateau, the history....Big Sigh. :) My brother and his wife were in Paris last years but they are decidedly NOT picture takers. Can you imagine? So I rely on you, Rosemary. :)

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    1. Thank you Yvette - glad that you enjoyed seeing a different side to Paris - if I had swung my camera to the right then you would have had a view of the Eiffel Tower and the city but I don't have a good enough lens on the camera.

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