Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Museum Day #1

Today we put our museum passports to use. The way this deal works is, you buy the card and you write the date of the first use on the face of it. And it is good for the purchased number of days from then. Show the pass, skip the ticket line and go right in.

First use: the Rodin Museum.

Getting there was a small adventure; we had to use three different metro lines. There is probably a simpler way by bus but we didn't research it. Anyway, while waiting to get in (there was a queue for the security gate), David speculated that they would scan the big bar code on the Museum Passport, and enter the first use into a central database, so they could reject it starting next Monday. Nunh-unh. Two museums, two very casual glances at the red card, waved through. "I bet we can use these forever," Marian said.

So the first thing you hit in the Museum garden is Le Penseur,

...which we only today learned was meant to illustrate Dante, pondering on the human condition. And that the same figure appears top center in The Gates of Hell which was nearby. We'd seen another casting of this at the Cantor museum at Stanford (along with another Thinker and others).

See the Thinker over the top of the door?

Note the three little guys on top? They are the Three Shades, and Rodin also cast them full-size.

Marian likes the hands.

So we wandered around the garden under gray skies, with the view dominated by the Church of the Dome and the distant Eiffel tower.

It had been raining.

We were very pleased to find that this museum had no restrictions on cameras, except "pas de flash." Inside the building, only part of the collection was on view because of remodelling. There were a lot of art students sitting around sketching, and they were almost as much fun to watch as the sculptures.

Is she drawing from an image on her iPhone? Or just multi-tasking?

So, on to find out what that monster gold dome was all about.

Turns out, and we should have known this in advance, it's not so much a church as Napoleon's sepulchre. His heroic casket is the center of the building.

Under a dome that's prettier by far than Sacre Coeur's.

Observed by many.

Back into the metro for a couple of stops and to the Museé Jacquemart-André, which is more like a Stately Home than a museum.

M. André was a very rich guy who married Mme. Jacquemart, an artist, and over a long and happy marriage they travelled around collecting whatever struck their fancy, including the odd Rembrandt and wall-sized tapestry, and some complete ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo, to dress up their home. And donated it to the nation. There are lots of fine paintings and tapestries inside, and as many beautiful pieces of furniture. Unfortunately, this museum has a "no photography" policy—although they didn't prevent you from carrying a camera in. And in fact quite a few people were taking pics with their phones. We only took one, of this amazing marble staircase.

This is just the right half, there's a matching left staircase.

The real attraction of this museum is the Café Jacquemart-André, billed by the Rough Guide as "the most sumptuously appointed salon de thé in the city." Well, it has two huge tapestry panels on the walls and the whole ceiling is a Tiepolo fresco from a villa in Italy. Other than that it ain't so much... The waitress offered to take our picture.

From there we headed home, picking up a quiche at the next-door boulangerie to eat with fruit from the Sunday market. Tough life. Then we emulated the Jacquemart-André guard lion.


  1. This is fantastic. Bringing bace a few memories, (A very few) We were taken to Napoleon's tomb too. Love that you're getting into more pictures. Love Rodin and his sculptures, but I know you. You're more familiar. Lol

  2. We visited Napoleon's tomb many years ago and I was really impressed, particularly by the tomb itself. I had a slide of that gorgeous red sepulcher and it has always bugged me that it turned up missing! Doesn't matter, now -- what good are a lot of color slides these days? Bob