Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Paris - Day Four

Links to all posts in this series:
Paris - Day One
Paris - Day Two
Paris - Day Three, Part One
Paris - Day Three, Part Two
Paris - Day Four
Paris - Day Five, Part One
Paris - Day Five, Part Two

If you've read this far in this series of posts, you know that our third day in Paris was quite busy as we covered ground in  Île de la Cité, the Latin Quarter, Ile St. Louis and the Jewish Quarter. We also covered a lot of ground on our fourth day, walking through the vast grounds of the Louvre before crossing a bridge and hitting several sites in St. Germain. As you can see from the photos below, we started bright and early.

Our first stop of the day was D'Orsay Museum, which is justly famous for its fabulous collection of significant Impressionist paintings. D'Orsay is housed in a grand old train station  overlooking the Seine River.

As we waited for the museum to open, we viewed some of the sculptures outside the entrance. I only have a couple to show here, but the idea was that cultures from around the world were represented.

The photo below is not mine. Photography is strictly limited in D'Orsay, so I grabbed this shot from the Internet. In addition to a great collection of Impressionist paintings (located on the top floor; by the way, the word "great" applies to both the quantity and quality of said paintings), D'Orsay has many other classical works. As you can see from the photo, the open floor in the middle is used for display, and the two wings of the museum hold several smaller galleries. The ambience here is fabulous, very warm and relaxed. If I were to visit D'Orsay again (which I'd love to do), I'd start at the top floor and work my way down instead of going from the bottom up. The reason for this is that most people seemed to do what we did, which meant that many of us arrived at the Impressionist galleries - where we all wanted to hang around awhile - at the same time. The crowding was unpleasant at times. So,  in the future, I'd start at the top while most others are down below.

This is the one photo I took inside the museum, the famous clock through which one can view some of the Paris cityscape.

Our next stop after D'Orsay was the Rodin Museum. This easily overlooked gem resides on an estate in the city. Small displays are available in the mansion, and large sculptures are scattered through the garden. We began by touring the garden.

The next photo shows one of Rodin's most famous works, The Gates of Hades, which was inspired (as much Western art was) by Dante's Inferno. A plaster copy is displayed at D'Orsay.

You'll recognized Le Penseur, The Thinker:

And this is Job. His agony and despair are obvious.

After eating lunch in the garden cafe, we went through the mansion. Rodin must have created hundreds of busts in addition to his larger sculptures. These are just two of many. The facial expression of the first one is so realistic that one can almost see life in the eyes and feel that one has walked into the room and caught this fellow speaking mid-sentence.

A somewhat larger work is The Kiss - shown below in full and in close-up:

Two more of Rodin's works. The first is a small-scale copy of Eve, the larger version is displayed in the garden

The bust below allows me to segue into the reason I insisted on adding the Rodin Museum to our itinerary (I figured if I could endure another military museum, the next stop on this day, Dave could indulge me on this - he did so willingly). This is a bust of Camille Claudel, one of Rodin's most gifted students. Even though Rodin was married when they met - you can guess the rest - they had a torrid affair for several years. When she became pregnant with his child, he compelled her to have an abortion. Some time after that, the affair died. Claudel went insane in the last decades of her life and spent her last several years in an asylum, largely abandoned by her family and "friends." Sadly, as her illness progressed (before her institutionalization), she destroyed many of her sculptures. The ones that survive are a testament to her gifts and skill. She excelled at small-scale works, several of which are on display at the Rodin Museum.

Here are some of her sculptures: 

The next two are two views of the same piece, entitled, The Waltz.

Next is a work called, Maturity, followed by a close-up detail from that work:

This work is entitled, The Gossips:

Finally, we have three views of a work entitled,The Wave.

Our next stop, as already noted, was the military museum and the Tomb of Napoleon. Dave and I were both disappointed in the military museum. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of swords, guns and suits of armor on display, so in that regard, it's an impressive collection. My problem is that one sword looks pretty much like another to me. Redundancy of this sort bores me quickly. Dave's disappointment, which I shared, was that the World War I and World War II displays were scarce on detail. He had been reading about World War I before the trip and had really looked forward to learning more details in France, a nation that suffered horribly in that carnage. As for the World War II portion, I appreciated the information about the Resistance, but at times it came across to me as defensive, an attempt to deflect attention away from the role of the Vichy collaborators in that conflict.

The Tomb of Napoleon is grandly impressive. It can be spotted easily from the Eiffel Tower, and even from the Rodin Museum garden.

This is the altar in the Eglise du Dome Church, in which Napoleon's Tomb resides, along with several others.

Napoleon's Tomb. They apparently want to make sure he stays put.

A statue of Napoleon.

The church dome.

Napoleon's Tomb was our last tourist stop of the day. From there, we walked across the river and caught a boat back to the Louvre. After a good dinner, we returned to our hotel and rested in preparation for the next day's adventures, a trip to Versailles and viewing of Monet's Water Lilies at L'Orangerie. As always, I'll tell you more about those in another post.

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