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Hello Hunters! 
09 février 2017
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London,
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Angels & Wings,
  • THATBrit – Skull Scouting

Hello Hunters! 

Please use the “Categories” box to your right to find what you’re looking for. Though we do have a few sections of typical blog articles (such as the “Travelling with Kids in Paris and London” and “Nearby Food & Wine”) this blog is also meant to help hunters read posts on the museums they’ll be hunting in, in the meantime sometimes reading whole articles on the treasure they’ll be scouting out on their THATMuse. 

To find these articles, please look for which THATMuse you’re going on and theme you’ve chosen, for instance:  

THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary
THATBrit – Fun & Games


When fragments of text are in bold, often that means it's going to answer a precious bonus question. (Please note, the museums do close of sections at times, so not all blog posts in your theme will always be included in your hunt – worst case scenario you’ve learned a bit about art for the sake of art). Prior to leaving you may want to print off the posts for your THATMuse prep to read en route to Paris or London thus getting your adrenaline pumping for the greatest Museum adventure!   Comments or suggestions per blog post or via email are warmly welcomed!  Happy Hunting! 
Daisy
Arts + Sciences Hunt
06 février 2013

Arts + Sciences Hunt

Perspective epitomizes the marriage of Arts + Sciences, so it should be no surprise that I’m providing this as the give-away clue to all those clever BAC-aged youths who’ll be on the hunt for Science at the Louvre tomorrow afternoon.

Science-Académie (known as Science-Ac’) was established in 2006 with just a few hundred students. Today this Paris-Montagne Association now stands at 2000 students, enlivening the interest of high school students and pre-BAC kids in Science. Science-Ac was born from the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS is the French equivalent of MIT, for you American readers), and has generational dons or tutors per each level, PhD candidates doing lab work alongside high-schoolers. Their proximity in age, no doubt bolsters the inspiration for the students to further their scientific studies.

Tomorrow a group of Science-Ac’ students will be scouring the Louvre for 25 pieces of art that marry Art with Science. For instance a double-sided David and Goliath painting by da Volterra  inspects the Centripetal and Centrifugal forces of David’s use of the sling. But as such physics strays from typical THATLou reading I’ll do a give-away that’s a bit closer to home.

Here are two works of art in two separate wings on two separate floors of the Louvre. One is by a Northerner (Dutch) the other by a Southerner (Sicilian), but both are true masters of perspective in entirely disparate ways. Scientific perspective is an approximate representation, on a flat surface (such as a canvas or paper), of an image as it is perceived by the eye. The two most characteristic features of perspective are:

1.    objects are drawn smaller as their distance from the observer increases
2.    The distortion of items when viewed at an angle (spatial foreshortening)

In art the term foreshortening is often used synonymously with perspective, even though foreshortening can occur in other types of non-perspective drawing representations.

da Messina's Christ at the Cross
da Messina’s Christ at the Cross

CHRIST AT THE COLUMN Antonello da Messina (1430-1479), 15th C Italian Painting

This fine painting is tiny, only .30m x .21m wide, so in a reversed way it pops out among the Italian Painting gallery. Antonello’s acquaintance with the rules and foreshortenings of Tuscan perspective allow him here to show a living, monumental Christ whose Passion thrusts itself upon the viewer. This immediacy is enhanced by the illusionist handling of the knot in the rope: set at the bottom of the composition, it appears to rest on the frame, as if on the ledge of a window opening onto the divine. During his apprenticeship in the Naples of the Princes of Aragon – collectors of the work of the Northern painters – Antonello acquired Flemish oil painting techniques: the layering of paint and glazes creates depth and subtle transitions from shade to light, while also enabling meticulous realism in physical terms and in the stroke by stroke rendering of Christ’s hair and beard. Science Ac kids are asked to pose with his pained expression (just think of all Christ had been through at this point). To me he’s saying “how much bloody longer do I have to go through this torture?” It’s a fantastic painting.

de Hooch Card Players
de Hooch Card Players in an opulent interior

CARD PLAYERS, Pieter de Hooch (1629-1684), 17th C Dutch Painting

During his decade in Delft (Holland), Pieter de Hooch was deeply influenced by the color and strict lines of the art of Carel Fabritius, who also influenced Vermeer (huh, Vermeer’s Astronomer may just be nearby, then!). de Hooch developed a personal style that proved a success, basing his compositions on a colorful, artful use of perspective, with figures fitting harmoniously into the overall scheme. His works are subtly illuminated with lateral sources of light and often feature a series of rooms leading from one to the next. The lines of the marble floor tiles here draw the viewer’s attention to the vanishing lines of the painting. The spatial elements opening onto the exterior-windows and half-open doors are punctuated by a contrasting play of light, accentuating the lines and volumes. For an extra fifty bonus points have your team point to the small hint of another room in this charming scene. (and yes for you hawk-eyes, the pretty girl in the foreground is cheating with her lad).
Things to do in Paris: Where to eat near the Louvre
18 mars 2013
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Things to do in Paris: Where to eat near the Louvre

By Doni Belau, Founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris

Of all the things to do in Paris, going to the Louvre is on the top of nearly everyone’s must-do list. I personally tire of it because the place is so huge it can overwhelm which is why I recommend taking THATLou’s Treasure Hunt at the Louvre (what it stands for). Hers is one of the cleverest and most compelling ideas I’ve run across in all my time in Paris and it’s really a must in order to bring the Louvre down to a palatable size.

Cafe Marly
Café Marly, photo credit Girls’ Guide to Paris

Whichever way you enjoy the Louvre, whether you are scavenger hunting or just making a regular visit, after several hours of ingesting culture, you’ll likely be famished. And after all that walking you won’t want to walk far, but at the same time you will NOT want to get stuck in a tourist trap either. Here are my best suggestions for any and every type of meal, drink or snack within 10 minutes of the Louvre. Bon Appétit!

A hearty lunch

In proper Parisian style, sit down for an elegant hot lunch prepared by one of the best chefs in town at La Régalade Saint Honoré but do book ahead for Bruno Doucet’s homemade terrines and fair prices.

ADDRESS for La Régalade: 123, rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris +33 (0) 1 42 21 92 40

It’s Raining

Like often happens in Paris, you are about to exit the Louvre and it’s pouring rain but your tummy is grumbling. Never fear, head back inside and ask for directions to the Richelieu wing. Head to the Café Richelieu, which serves the famous Angelina hot chocolate (and their complete menu). Sit back and sip the rich chocolaty-ness and take a sandwich while you wait out the rain. Just take IM Pei’s escalator (photographed on the THATLou website) up the 1st floor, where you’ll find it opposite the Middle Ages treasures.

ADDRESS: The Louvre, bien sûr!

Fried Chicken at Verjus bar a vin
Fried Chicken at Verjus bar à vin, Photo Credit Girls’ Guide to Paris

Just a Sandwich

Some days I can’t be bothered with a sit down meal for lunch. Why not head over to the scrumptious Verjus bar a vin, which serves wonderful wines by the glass and a fried chicken sandwich to die for, which you can take to go. If it’s sunny why not enjoy it on the Pont des Arts bridge?

ADDRESS for Verjus: 52, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris +33 (0)1 42 97 54 40

Brunch

For a quick brunch before heading over to the Louvre or a little cupcake to give you energy after your tour, walk over to Oh Mon Cake on the rue St. Honoré. After fueling up you’ll be ready for some shopping in the neighborhood!

ADDRESS for Oh Mon Cake: 154, rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris +33 (0) 1 42 60 31 84

Just Drinks

They can be rude and very Parisian, but the Café Marly – if you can capture a seat on the terrace – has the best view of the Pyramide at the Louvre in Paris. I do not recommend the food, however, as it is formulaic.

ADDRESS for Café Marly: entrance found from Passage Richelieu, or at 93, rue de Rivoli 75001, tel +33 1 49 26 06 60)

Kunitoraya
Kunitoraya, photo credit: Le Figaro

Sick of French?

Book into this superb Japanese bistro for lunch or dinner. Less than a 10-minute walk and a world away from all the French food you’ve been having, Kunitoraya on rue Villedo serves up delicious udon noodles, sashimi, bento boxes and sushi. The menu is much more affordable for lunch.

ADDRESS for Kunitoraya: 5 rue Villedo 75001 Paris +33 (0)1 47 03 33 65

A Stellar Meal

If you’ve had the foresight to plan ahead, then reserve at least a month in advance for dinner at Spring restaurant. You’ll enjoy a superbly creative meal prepared for you by the now famous American chef who took Paris by storm, Daniel Rose. Prix-fix – no choice menu – with an excellent wine selection.

ADDRESS for Spring Restaurant: 6, rue Bailleul, 75001 Paris +33 (0) 1 45 96 05 72

Le Fumoir
Le Fumoir, ©L’Internaute Magazine, Maxence Boyer

Drinks and a snack

Just behind the Louvre you’ll find a stand-by spot to prendre un verre (take a glass), the ever cozy Le Fumoir, which actually has pretty solid food as well. Happy hours are from 6-8pm when all cocktails are reduced to 7.50

ADDRESS for Le Fumoir: 6, rue de l’Amirale de Coligny 75001, Tel +33 (0)1 42 92 00 24

Doni Belau is the founder of Girls’ Guide to Paris and simply adores writing about her favorite things to do in Paris.
Picnic Near the Louvre
10 septembre 2013
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Picnic Near the Louvre

The idea of adding a Food section to the blog was originally Aussie in France’s Rosemary Kneipp, who lives just opposite the Louvre in Palais Royal and ran her own “Five Places to lunch Near the Louvre”. She gave me this wise idea an age ago, when we met for a Louvre photo shoot last May, to accompany a piece she wrote for Ma Vie Française on “Why I Came to France”.

Though I do love a good nibble + swig, my forté is more aligned to pondering painting and the like. So what better opportunity to introduce my wonderful THATMuse colleague, Jenna-Marie Warnecke, than now? With no further ado, here is the first Food + Drink 5-mins-from -he Louvre series, this one with a guest post by the pen of Paris Cheapskate:

Poste & Telegraph
After spending a couple of hours running around the Louvre, racing against time to rack up the points necessary to win THATMuse, you’re likely to be not only pooped but also hungry. There’s no shortage of (overpriced) cafés nearby where you can relax and grab a bite, but if it’s a nice day out, you can do no better than to have a picnic in the nearby Jardin des Tuileries.

Grocery Store
One of my favorite spots to get an easy, quality to-go bite is Flottes And Go at 2 rue Cambon (75001), just across the street from the Jardin des Tuileries (and about a 10-min walk from the Louvre). As an arm of the next-door brasserie Flottes, this bistro boutique is the perfect spot to pick up everything you need for a fabulous picnic from wine to cute napkins.

Books
Fresh sandwiches like focaccia and salmon or quiches with ricotta, zucchini and tomato run about 8€, while you can also grab smoothies and organic sodas like pink grapefruit for 2-4€ and gourmet ice cream with flavors like honey lavender for 4€. There are also plenty of adorable French souvenirs to pick up while you’re at it, including jams, spices, decorative tins and cookbooks.

Souvenirs
And though Flottes has its share of sweets from artisanal chocolate to gelato, I’d recommend taking a few extra steps down the street to Pierre Hermé (4 rue Cambon, 75001) to try one of their famous macarons. Pierre Hermé macs are renowned for their perfect texture and wild flavors, from chocolat-foie gras to the Ispahan, a delicious blend of rose-raspberry. They are the ultimate picnic dessert!

Pierre Herme
photo taken from Chérie City (www.cheriecity.co.uk)

Jenna-Marie Warnecke writes regularly for Girls’ Guide to Paris and The Huffington Post. In addition to being a professional writer, she also runs Paris Cheapskate, regarding a wide array of events in Paris for those who have an eye to their purse.

Jenna’s also been known to run the odd THATMuse, in the absence of yours truly, as well as to assist with large Treasure Hunts, such as the 40-person Dutch Railway company (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) corporate event we hosted last night. You can follow her movements on Twitter at @jennawarnecke
THATLou Roundup (+ Limericks!)
08 avril 2012
  • THATLou

THATLou Roundup (+ Limericks!)

Poisson d’Avril’s THATLou fishermen
Poisson d’Avril’s THATLou fishermen, counting their score


One couldn’t win a THATLou exclusively on bonus points, but it’s the bonus points which make the hunt so much more entertaining. Some questions quiz you on your knowledge of Paris, for others it’s a physical challenge like being able to photograph all four corners of an enormous canvas (your team in the foreground of course). Usually it’s a matter of finding a work by the same artist or palace nearby that may have been profiled in these pages. But recently the limerick and rhyme-on-the-go has made an appearance in the bonus points. Herewith I would like to post two recent little ditties, with a bit of context as to Milo of Croton (a version by Puget as well as one in fighting supine position by Falconet) to follow in the days to come:

The winners of THATLou Kids yesterday was Team Perfectly Sweet Paris, comprised of three lovely brunette Sweet Peas aged 8 – 14 (Yasmin, Margot and Maïa) and their mothers, Gail, of Perfectly Paris, and Alisa, of Sweet Pea. They were also well ahead of the other teams of kid-parent teams in part due to the following limerick, a bonus request embedded in the text of both Puget and Falconet’s sculptures of Milo of Croton:

MILO OF CROTON
There once was a fellow named Milo
Who wanted to live in a Silo
But as Croton had said, “You are out of your head,
And you may as well live in a pastry of Phyllo”

 Team Perfectly Sweet Paris
Team Perfectly Sweet Paris, wordsmiths on the go

And the Poisson d’Avril team below, comprising Jonathan, Vanessa, Jessa and Ben, produced an adorable ditty for Abraham van Beyeren’s Still Life with Carp, a 17th Century Dutch painting featured in these pages. Beyeren was a protege of a (lesser) still life painter with a fantastic name: Pieter de Putter. The clever fishermen below were granted bonus points a plenty for reading the small print and writing:

Pieter de Putter
Painted a Painting of Fish
And this looked de-lish

Poisson d'Avril rappers
Poisson d'Avril rappers

Winners of the 1 April Poisson d’Avril THATLou consisted of Colette Dillon Waldron, Mathieu Romary, Sasha Levenson-Wahl, of Savoir Faire Paris, and Sara Waldron, of Brunette à Bicyclette. As the theme was Fish + Water, they won a very fancy water gun, which I believe Sasha and Mathieu will be using indiscriminately on their adorable pooch. I hadn’t realised they, too, have a limerick (which shall be posted imminently). And just for the record I would like to state that I was not responsible for counting their score — I mention this as both Sasha and Sara have generously written THATLou up on their newsletter and blog, respectively.

Poisson d'Avril winners
Poisson d'Avril winners

Apologies for my fuzzy phone photos. If you have THATLou hunting shots you’d like included, please send them my way (And sorry I haven’t posted the ones I already have). At some point I’ll start a photo page at top (under “THATLou”), where you  can see former teams out on the prowl, in action or counting up their score.

Last, but certainly not least: A very big thanks to the following people who have written up THATLou in their newsletters and blogs (I shall figure out the hyperlink soon enough, but for now a cut and paste will have to do). Again, I shall start a “Reviews” page up under the THATLou tab. In any event, I greatly appreciate all of the generosity and help spreading the word of all of those below:

Perfectly Paris

http://parisperfectlyparis.blogspot.fr/2012/04/thatlou-treasure-hunt-at-louvre.html

The Savoir Faire Paris newsletter

http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=3c69e1e8c9ec80f878b6e4945&id=537f081041&e=7d16366646

Totally Frenched Out

http://totallyfrenchedout.blogspot.fr/2012/03/thatlou.html

Out and About with Mary Kay

http://www.outandaboutinparis.com/search?q=thatlou

Jennyphoria

http://www.jennyphoria.com/2012/04/treasure-hunt-at-louvre.html

Love in the City of Lights

http://www.loveinthecityoflights.com/paris/treasure-hunting/
Pitting the Beauty against the Beast
11 juin 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme

Pitting the Beauty against the Beast

Three Graces
What more appropriate to the Beauty & Bestiary theme (or the Ladies au Louvre theme) than to linger on Three Graces (of which the Louvre has many – from Lucas Cranach’s to the Borghese 3 Graces) Bestiaries are fantastical animals, such as griffins, centaurs, unicorns, even gargoyles. They appear in all sorts of fun places, such as scrutinising Paris a-top the belfry of Notre Dame (Gargoyles), or overlooking Darius’s Palace at Susa (Griffins), as written about in the Benetton of Near Eastern Art.

So until I’ve reached a decision for the next THATLou, I’m going to linger on these two subjects, the Beauty and the Beast, and if you have a say on which subject would make the best THATLou theme, please feel free to either vote on the THATMuse facebook page or leave a comment here.

Three Graces (1482)
Three Graces (1482) detail in Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera at the Uffizi, www.broadstrokes.wordpress.com

What personifies beauty or ladies in the arts for me are The Three Graces. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1974 edition) defines The Three Graces:

Greek = Charities, Latin = Gratiae. In Green religion = Goddess of Fertility. The name refers to the pleasing or charming appearance of a fertile field or garden. Their number varied in different legends, but usually there were three: Aglaia (Brightness also Elegance), Euphrosyne (Joyfulness also Mirth, Good Cheer) and Thalia (Bloom also, Youth and Beauty, Festivities).

Depending on the legend, they’re said to be the daughters of Zeus and Hera (or Eurynome is the daughter of Oceanus sometimes) or Helios and Aegle (a daughter of Zeus). Frequently the Graces were taken as goddesses of ‘charm’ or ‘beauty’ and hence were associated with Aphrodite (the Goddess of Love), Peitho (her attendant) and/or Hermes, a fertility and messenger god.

In early times they were often represented with drapery, but by the time the Romans got to them they were usually full-fledged flashing us: Unembarrassed of their beautiful form, and usually draped around one another opposed to in drapes. More to come on them this week.

Three Graces (1503 - 1504)
Three Graces (1503-1504) Raphael, Museée Condé, Chantilly France, WikiPaintings

An example of Bestiary, to wait their turn and be covered after lingering on some beauty with various Three Graces…

Centaur, Borghese Collection Louvre
Centaur, Borghese Collection Louvre, www.ArsMagazine.com

* The first image of the Three Graces is a sculpture by Antonio Canova (1814-1817), which is currently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, who launched a public campaign to purchase it, much the way the Louvre bought Lucas Cranach’s Three Graces with another museum grassroots campaign.
Next Icon of the Louvre
16 juin 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre

Next Icon of the Louvre

Cranach's 3 Graces
Cranach’s 3 Graces, with journalists, www.artdaily.org

In November 2010 the Louvre was made aware of a Lucas Cranach’s The Three Graces, which had been in private collections since it was painted in 1531. There’s another lesser Three Graces by Cranach at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas (seen below), but this 1531 Three Graces was not only unknown to the general public it was in pristine condition.  Henri Loyrette, Director of the Louvre said “the work’s astonishing perfection, its extreme rarity, and its remarkable state of preservation allow it to be called a ‘national treasure'”. That’s a big endorsement, by a very big fish. Internationally speaking, that is.

The Louvre scrambled to raise the enormously small amount of 4 million euros, but their acquisition department could only raise 3 million (does make you wonder), so they made an unprecedented on-line appeal to individual donors for the rest. Within a month they raised the 1 million euros from an estimated 7000 donors (initially the papers said it was 5000 donors, but the Louvre later corrected the figure).

Lucas Cranach´s Three Graces
Lucas Cranach´s Three Graces (1531) 24cm x 37cm, oil on wood, image taken from in.artinfo.com

What I don’t understand is why, when the National Gallery of Scotland raised 50 million pounds (in 2008 for Titian’s 1559 Diana and Acteon from Lord Sutherland) or the Tate raised 5.7 million pounds (for a Rubens drawing, The Apotheosis of James I (1628) — when Viscont Hampden threatened to sell it abroad, god forbid) was it such a big deal for the Louvre to appeal to the public for a measly one million euros? Why are we talking such small potatoes? Le Monde said that the average donation was 150 Euros, and that a quarter of the donations hovered around 50 Euros. That’s great. Grassroots is important, but the figure does pale in comparison. Another quandary – how could it have been on sale for so little when Henri Loyrette – the man himself — director of the Louvre!, said that it was a candidate to become the Louvre’s “Next Icon”? I can’t underline, bold, italicize, emphasize this point enough. Let us not forget that Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust sold for 106 million dollars at Christie’s in NY in May 2011, that Munch’s The Scream sold for 120 million dollars at Sotheby’s, again in NY, in May 2012. They’re fine paintings, sure, but to my single-minded eye the talent that Lucas Cranach has over Munch and Picasso trumps them. Moreover, doesn’t age count for anything these days? Guess not.

1535 Three Graces, by Lucas Cranach the Elder,
1535 Three Graces, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, in Kansas at http://www.nelson-atkins.org

This treasure is currently (as of Feb 2017) not on view because the Louvre has closed half of the top floor of Richelieu (yes! HALF!) for many months. Usually it’s on the 2nd floor Richelieu, Room 8; This is in a side room in the 16th Century German section
Cranach’s Three Graces
16 juin 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre

Cranach’s Three Graces

Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553) was friends with all of the big hitters of his Renaissance Germany: painter Albrecht Durer, reformist Martin Luther, and the various Electors and Emperors for whom he painted. Apart from being a very successful painter, he was a estimable businessman with a license to sell wine, an elected member of the Wittenberg town council (several stints), owner of a publishing press (in addition to the 400+ paintings by him, there are more than 100 separate woodcuts in the form of book illustrations and six engravings), owner of numerous properties and an apothecary. An example of his social stardom: in 1523 he hosted King Christian II of Denmark as a guest to his home.

Lucas Cranach´s Three Graces, 1531
Lucas Cranach´s Three Graces, 1531

For most of his life he was court painter to Friedrich III the Wise, Elector of Saxony (who Charles V would later accuse of treason, and who Cranach followed into exile), and in this role he had an enormous workshop (where his sons, Lucas the Younger especially, flourished). Like Rubens and painters in general, his workshop was what allowed him to be so prolific. Many of his paintings are only in part by him,  and were also in tribute to his talent at hiring talent.

As was written about in the last post (the Next Louvre Icon), an exception to this is the recently discovered The Three Graces (1531) which was done by Cranach’s hand alone, according to Vincent Pomarède, chief curator of the Louvre’s Painting Department. Apparently laboratory testing showed that there were no preliminary studies underneath the painting, which is what brought the museum to this conclusion.

The work’s small size (24cm x 37cm, Oil on Wood) indicates that it was commissioned for a patron’s home. Louvre curators speculate that this allowed Cranach to make the subjects all the more provocative, with a black background that focuses the viewer’s eye on the women’s flesh. The fundraising website said the painting emitted a “disturbing eroticism.” But this eroticism was not uncommon to Cranach´s work. Take for instance, the Louvre´s own Venus Standing in a Landscape (1529). She, too, is buck naked holding the signature thin veil as clear as saran wrap.

Venus Standing in a Landscape, 1529
Venus Standing in a Landscape, 1529, taken from commons.wikipedia.org

The identity of the three nude women in The Three Graces – seen from the back, the front and in profile – is not certain. The Louvre’s fundraising website (which is one of the few sources addressing it, since the painting has been in various private collections since it was painted in 1531) wondered whether it could be an allegorical representation of Charity, Friendship and Fidelity opposed to its namesake, The Three Graces. The woman in the center has that unusual flat hat which counters the argument of it being an allegorical representation. The woman on the right clasps her raised ankle, almost looking like she’s stretching for the 100 meter dash.

Just to show you that Cranach didn´t only focus on soft porn — here’s another of the treasures from the Louvre’s collections is Portrait of Magdalena Luther, daughter of Martin Luther.

Cranach’s Magdalena Luther (1540)
Cranach’s Magdalena Luther (1540), taken from www.portraittimeline.com

PS from the last post (where I tell you the whereabouts of this gem) – I’ve been asked about the sale of The Scream: During the Sotheby’s auction it was bought by a private collector. It took 12 minutes of the price climbing for this 1895 pastel version of it. Edvard Munch painted four Screams, three of which are in Norwegian museums. This 120 million dollar version was sold by Petter Olsen, a Norwegian shipping magnate whose grandfather was friends with Munch. A good Op Ed on the sale – making it the most expensive painting in the world at the moment – can be found in this NY Times article by Pulitzer Prize winning Art Critic Holland Cotter.
Borghese at the Louvre
22 juin 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme

Borghese at the Louvre

It’s funny how these posts come about. Because of the last post concluding the Three Graces series, I’ve had the Borghese Collection at the Louvre on my mind. However, there are so many places to start on this topic, and so many paths to stray to. A rocky relationship between Italy and France is certainly one (think the Italian Campaign of 1796-7, where Napoleon made his name), as is the actual collection of 695* incredible antiquities (the Sleeping Hermaphrodite, the Borghese Gladiator, the Three Graces, to name a few). Just how these antiquities got to the Louvre is worthy of a large part of Marie-Lou Fabréga-Dubert’s two-volume tome “La Collection Borghese au Musée Napoléon,” published jointly in 2009 by Musée du Louvre Editions and the publishing branch of the Beaux-Art de Paris. The NY Times reviewed it favourably here, and as with any good review the Times provides great morsels from the book.   

Borghese Gladiator
Borghese Gladiator – now called the Borghese Warrior, taken from www.louvre.fr

Then there are the personalities — Napoleon has never been short on providing history with anecdotes, his brother-in-law Prince Camillo Borghese of the Roman nobility, is of course the source of the collection and then there’s Napoleon’s sister and Camillo’s wife, Pauline, whose salacious habits were already well established in her first marriage to General Leclerc (I believe “Bacchanalian Promiscuity” was attributed to her when she was in Haiti with General Leclerc).

And of course we can’t overlook the minor characters — minor to history, but with entire wings and courtyards named after them I guess “minor” is relative. Dominique-Vivant Denon (Director of Imperial Museums), and Ennio Quirino Visconti  (“overseer” of Roman Antiquities at the Musée Napoléon — what’s now the Louvre), were responsible for the mammoth task of getting the antiquities from Rome to Paris — no easy feat when the British had an embargo in the Mediterranean which made the French travel overland. Denon, Sully, and Richelieu will certainly have their THATLou posts at one point or another (concerning both the wings as well as the colourful characters of French history). In one of my first posts I wrote about the Visconti courtyard, which is about to be all over the press when the new Islamic wing opens this September (supposedly – the opening’s been postponed for a few years).

Villa Borghese, Rome
Villa Borghese, Rome, 695 treasures left from here for the Louvre… Photo from princessofnowhere.com blog

PS/ I can’t seem to get to the bottom of just how many antiquities Napoleon (mmm, sorry, I mean the French State) bought from Borghese. Wikipedia, which of course isn’t to be trusted, says it’s 344 antiquities. A figure I’ve seen in other googled sources (who perhaps used wikipedia).  When addressing the Borghese Kylix the Louvre’s website says Napoleon bought Borghese’s entire collection — which of course can’t be right as there’s a small museum with  just a few Berninis on the Pincian Hill in Rome called the Villa Borghese (photographed above, where Denon and Visconti started their shipping process). So though I haven’t read Mme. Fabréga-Dubert’s 2-volumes, I have chosen to go with her figure of 695 pieces. If for no doubt because I’m from NY and trust the editors of the Times to at least quote her correctly.

Galleria Borghese Extra Info:

HOURS: open Tuesday – Sunday, from 8:30 – 7:30 pm

ADDRESS: Piazzale del Museo Borghese, 00197 Roma (in the middle of the large park, Villa Borghese)

THATMuse Recommendation: Purchase tickets on line, before you go (they can often be sold out as it’s one of the best museums in Rome, with Bernini, Caravaggio, Canova and the lot!)

http://www.galleriaborghese.it/eng/galleriaBorghese.html
SheMan Beauty
27 juin 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme

SheMan Beauty

Sleeping Hermaphroditus.
Sleeping Hermaphroditus. Greek marble, Roman copy from 2nd century BC after a Hellenistic original of the 2nd century BC, restored in 1619 by David Larique — with mattress by Gianlorenzo Bernini, www.wikipedia.org

It’s really not so easy to follow a post concerning Pauline la Pute (or as she was known in history Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s sister & Prince Camillo Borghese’s wife). I love the drafty old halls of the Louvre. Why else would I be toiling so at trying to expand the museum for THATLou participants and readers? But I know that an article on the history of the Borghese Collection isn’t that sexy. And though the Borghese Collection’s Three Graces, a perfect candidate for this Sunday’s Ladies at the Louvre hunt (hint hint, nudge nudge…), is a sexy piece of sculpture… They’re, well. Virtuous — so not quite so much fun as our scandalous friend Pauline.

St Teresa in Ecstasy, by GianLorenzo Bernini
St Teresa in Ecstasy, by GianLorenzo Bernini,1647 in the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria

So instead of trying to top the juice, I thought I’d go for the anatomically interesting:  The Sleeping Hermaphrodite! There’s an excellent church in Rome (well there are a few, if your all time favourite period of art is Baroque Roman architecture, which is the case for me. This is the lucky result of having glorious gilded swirls, dramatic moving marble, fat flabby volutes, convex and concave facades all crammed down my throat from a young age by my avid mother) called Santa Maria della Vittoria. It’s by Carlo Maderno (teacher to rivals Bernini and Borromini). Sta Ma della VIttoria is famous on a mass scale because of Bernini’s most excellent and much-studied sculpture in the Cornaro Chapel called The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa* (oh the jokes my predominately Protestant and Jewish art history classes would make in HS over the “Ecstasy” the horny saint went through — but that’s for another entry, or another blog. On being juvenile in Rome and New York, sometime. One day. For now though, I’ll try to rein in my enthusiasm and save you from more parenthetical tangents).

Carlo Maderno’s Santa Maria della Vittoria
Carlo Maderno’s Santa Maria della Vittoria (1605-1620), Rome, photo from www.wikipedia.org

In any event, in 1608 when the foundations of the church were being dug they found this 2nd Century AD Sleeping Hermaphrodite in the ground (it’s near Diocletian’s Baths), a Roman copy of a 2nd C BC Hellenistic sculpture. Cardinal Scipione Borghese**, nephew of Pope Paul V, caught word of this find and descended on the construction site immediately, saying “Hey, I’ll be taking that lovely SheMan thank you very much (ah the joy of being a Pope’s “nephew” in 17th-century Rome)” and brought it directly up the Pincian Hill back to his Villa Borghese where he created a room just for his new prized possession, the Sleeping Hermaphrodite. (Incidentally he also paid for the facade of Sta Ma della Vittoria twenty odd years later). Then in 1619 he set Gian Lorenzo Bernini (architect of St Peter’s Baldacchino, as well as of the Fountain of Four Rivers in Piazza Navona) to the task of sculpting the marble mattress to cushion his Sleeping Hermaphrodite.

front of the Borghese Collection’s Sleeping Hermaphrodite
front of the Borghese Collection’s Sleeping Hermaphrodite – www.Utexas.edu

In Greek mythology they didn’t really give hermaphrodites a lot of importance until the Hellenistic period. The idea of these poor beings with mixed up male-female chromosomes came to the Greeks from the East by way of Cyprus. The Encyclopedia Britannica (1974 edition) says the legend of the Hellenistic period made Hermaphroditus a beautiful youth, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite. The nymph of the fountain of Salmacis in Caria became enamored of him and entreated the gods that she might be forever united with him. The result was the formation of a being half man, half woman. It was typical of Hellenistic sculpture in so far as it had a theatrical element of surprise to it and was meant to be seen from two different angles.

front of the Borghese sleeping hermaphrodite,
front of the Borghese sleeping hermaphrodite, wikicommons

There are sleeping hermaphrodites scattered about, but the Louvre’s is the most famous. The Galeria Borghese in Rome has a lesser one, the Uffizi has another Roman copy. Both the Prado in Madrid and Met in NY have life-sized bronze sleeping hermaphrodites, the former ordered by Philip IV. The composition clearly influenced Velazquez’s Rokeby Venus at the National Gallery in London. And we won’t even go into the poets (Swinburne to name one) who devoted ode after ode to the subject.

All of this is good and well, but the big question you are probably asking yourselves — Does the Sleeping Hermaphrodite deserve a space in the Ladies at the Louvre THATLou? 

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* Whilst discussing the female orgasm, psychologist Jacques Lacan said that “you only have to go and look at Bernini’s statue in Rome to understand immediately that she’s coming, there is no doubt about it.” (“Encore,” Sem. XX: 70-71). This tidbit is a tip of my hat to my sister in law, a psychologist in Buenos Aires who introduced me to Lacan.

** Cardinal Bishop Scipione Borghese was not only Bernini’s patron, but Caravaggio’s as well. If you like the Baroque, you like Scipione.
Lady Hunters
02 juillet 2012
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre

Lady Hunters

Sunday’s “Ladies at the Louvre” hunt was a resounding success, with fierce competition between 4 teams of 4 people each. The group had a good balance between ages, gender and nationalities from Singapore to the States, with some ‘foreign’ English and American teens who one could argue are actually French – if not in name in punch – thanks to having been raised here.

July’s hunters were on the prowl for Beauty — not hard at the Louvre — and those who did their THATMuse homework were well rewarded with hefty bonus points referring Messalina and the Borghese Three Graces.

A big congrats to Lindsey Passaic, and Laurel Lieb, and their teammates Matt and Peter for having come in well ahead of the crowd with an impressive 520 points. And an honourable mention must go out to Amanda Collins and her dashing son Eric, who teamed up with Philip Heimann and Kristen Beddard Heimann, who’s single-handedly bringing Kale to France with the Kale Project (from the farm to the plate, through the hands of some wonderful celebrity chefs).

Some snaps of the round-up (and apologies for the strange formatting / caption probs – as  some of you may know by now technological skills are not my strongsuit)…

Peter, Matt, Laurel, and Lindsey
Winners touching down – Peter, Matt, Laurel and Lindsey

Amanda Collins, Eric Collins, Philip Heimann, Kristen Beddard Heimann
A close Second Place team:  Amanda Collins, Eric Collins, Philip Heimann, Kristen Beddard Heimann

Edna Zhou and Rebecca Brown
Edna Zhou, of http://expatedna.com/ and Rebecca Brown, of http://parlezvousloco.com/ in front of the Borghese Three Graces (their teammates preferred not to be photographed or named)

Winning team, Matt, Peter, Laurel, and Lindsey
The winning team, Matt, Peter, Laurel and Lindsey, before they received their frou frou pink  Lady Louvre notepads and matching frilly pink pens.
Greek Week
03 juillet 2012
  • Misc

Greek Week

Attic Black-Figure Dinos painted by the Gorgon Painter, at the Louvre
Detail of the Attic Black-Figure Dinos painted by the Gorgon Painter, at the Louvre, taken from www.Wikipedia.org

With a handful of new Treasure Hunt themes up my sleeve , it’s especially rewarding when I come across one piece of art which applies to a number of different themes. It feels resourceful somehow, and certainly efficient. I can’t very well write up many of these treasures or I’d be giving a bunch of THATMuse-hints away — efficiently losing my resources. But one or two doesn’t seem to do much harm. And anyway, there are always some bonus question referring back to the blog which rewards anyone for reading my trivial Louvre-filled trivia. Greek pots are rich in THATMuse folklore.

However, the Campana Galérie has been closed since January. Most people probably haven’t noticed as Greek pots are the epitome of a dusty old museum, empty apart from the stray, white-haired patrons stooping over one vitrine for hours, themselves gathering dust. Before THATMuse and before our cherub, STORSH, was born, el Argentino and I would balance the age-average, and join the few geriatrics inspecting Greek pots. We’d happily prowl the halls of the Campana Galérie (which runs along the Seine, facing the Académie Française, overlooking the Pont des Arts) for hours at a stretch.

Storsh on his first visit to the Louvre
STORSH on his first visit to the Louvre, at one month. For a while we called him Mr Pelike Pot-Belly, because his belly was the shape of this pot – a Pelike is photographed herewith

The sign closing these rooms off said that they’d re-open in March, then in May, another sign arose stating June. Finally this past week, el Argentino brushed the dust off his shoulders and wrote the head of the Greek and Roman dept at the Louvre an email saying what’s up, yo? We were just in Greece and even the Archaeological Museum in Athens – a capital doomed with imminent catastrophe – had enough personnel to show their pots off.

Much to our surprise the curator wrote back within 5 minutes putting a dozen people in copy. He said it wasn’t a matter of personnel, but that they were cleaning the glass cases; that the rooms would be open at the end of the summer. Perhaps he put all those people in copy because he himself had been trying to get the Galerie opened earlier, and wanted to show his colleagues that a member of the Louvre was getting feisty about it. Or perhaps he was just being French (my French colleagues love pressing ‘reply all’ on mass mails just for some inanity).

Storsh - a few weeks old
Gratuitous snap of STORSH, a few weeks old – back when we called him Mr Pelike Pot-Belly

So for whatever reason we have been deprived of our fat-bellied Pelike pots, or Volute Kraters with delightfully scandalous red- or black-figure paintings of prancing athletes, privates dangling out for everyone to see. And THATMuse has suffered as well, since the Greeks were so varied in their stories and myths that just about any of the themes I’ve covered could have at least one Greek pot in it.

But there is a room 74, on the 1st floor of Sully, near the Campana Galerie which has some Greek pots and there are of course a few small rooms of early Etruscan stuff downstairs, below the Daru stairwell (where Nike of Samothrace is — another Greek delight which will be returned to later this week). And most importantly – why this whole post came about – I’ll linger on an Attic Black-Figured Dinos, by the one and only Gorgon Painter. With Perseus escaping a Gorgon (as the photo at top details — perfecto for a Beauty and the Bestiary THATLou, don’t you think?), there are oodles of themes this fine Dinos touch.

Daru Stairwell, Louvre
Daru Stairwell, Louvre, photo taken from artgazing.blogspot.fr

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Please feel free to leave suggestions for THATMuse themes, or to let me know your favourite existing theme.
Wild Things
05 juillet 2012
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • Misc

Wild Things

Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are
When you think of the Wild Things of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are you might as well think of Gorgons. As any American who grew up since it was published in 1963 will remember Max was sent to bed without his supper because he roared his terrible roar and gnashed his terrible teeth and screamed his terrible scream too wildly. A forest grows in his room and he’s transported by sea to where the Wild Things live, but Max cows them easily, and becomes the King of All Wild Things by staring them down, unblinking as he holds their yellow eyes steady. Perhaps because Sendak had a soft side, or perhaps because children’s book publishers wouldn’t have permitted it, but Max doesn’t behead The Wild Things as Perseus did their predecessor, nor does he make the Wild Things as terrifying as Gorgons. He couldn’t have.

The very word Gorgon means Dreadful or Terrible in Greek.  They were popular in Greek mythology – if you looked them in the eye you’d turn to stone. Perseus famously outsmarted the most famous of the Gorgons, Medusa, by looking at her in the reflection of his shield, and then beheading her serpent-haired head. Sadly for her, Medusa was not immortal as her two Gorgon sisters Stheno and Euryale were.  They were said to be the daughters of the sea God Phorcys and his sister-wife Ceto (a sea monster).

Red Figured Cup by Douris
Red-figured cup by Douris, 480-470 BC, Cerveteri, Etruria now in the Vatican Museum. The python is regurgitating Jason (gross, eh?!?), the Golden Fleece hangs from a branch while Athena looks on with her aegis bearing the Gorgon and helmet with winged lioness, www.wikipedia.com


Often they were depicted as having fangs and skin of a serpent, and hair made of poisonous snakes.  Sometimes they had wings of gold, brazen claws, tusks of a boar.  Lionesses and sphinxes are often associated with them, and generally they were used in architecture to protect the building – for instance temples protecting the oldest of oracles (the oldest stone pediment in Greece, dated from 600 BC, is from the Temple of Artemis at Corfu and what is in the primary location, smack dab in the middle of the pediment? A Dreadful Gorgon of course).

Disk Fibula Gorgoneion Bronze with repoussé decoration
Disk Fibula Gorgoneion Bronze with repoussé decoration, Boeotian production under Corinthian influence, second half of the 6th century BC. From Asia Minor, at the Louvre www.wikipedia.com

So why do I linger on Gorgons? Perhaps because, apart from protecting temples and installed protectively in architecture, Gorgons frequently appear in Greek pottery….  Greek Pots could very well figure in a good Food and Wine THATMuse. Likewise Gorgons would be prime suspects for a Bestiary THATLou, which remains unscheduled as such but is bound to pop up sooner or later. For instance this Gorgon Pot found in the Sully wing would be a great cross-purpose pot for both the Food+Wine THATLou as well as a Bestiary hunt, no?

Gorgon Painter Dinos
Gorgon Painter Dinos, taken from Google Images

What makes it so special is that it is one of the first pots to have a continuous narration (where one piece of art depicts the story at different stages) of Perseus’s story, where he’s running from Medusa’s Gorgon sisters (as seen below). The pot scene is so famous that history named the painter the Gorgon Painter, though he of course did many other pots in the 6th century BC.

Gorgon Painter Dinos Detail
Gorgon Painter Dinos, 580 BC, taken from Wikipedia

More on all these topics – Gorgons, Food+ Wine THATLou, Bestiary, Greek Pots – soon. For now I’ll leave you with a hyperlink to Maurice Sendak’s obituary in the NY Times from this past May.
Awards!
01 août 2012
  • Misc

Awards!

I don’t know whether you guys can tell, but I started this blog exclusively for its namesake, THATMuse. When I was setting up the company everyone said the same thing – that blogging, Twitter and Facebook were indispensable. Up until last spring I was a virgin to all three — allergic to the idea of not corresponding by post or speaking in person, etc — so my learning curve has been steep. I have to say, though, I’ve grown to thoroughly enjoy blogging about pieces in the Louvre, and museums, art and treasure hunting in general. I don’t think of myself as a blogger, but simply that it’s a tool within my business. However, this is no excuse for not participating in a community which has generously welcomed me, given me tips and supported me with likes, comments, and blogging love — all of which has been an unexpected pleasure.

Monkeys trying to blog

So that I’ve left this Awards post as long as I have is both inconsiderate and unforgiveable (since April, I think). I owe huge thanks to both Marissa of Medieval Musings and Rasha of Leanova Designs for having nominated me for the Versatile Blogger’s Award and the Genuine Blogger’s Award, respectively. From what I can tell with the blogging awards no one ever actually wins them, it’s simply a means of spreading the blogging love, and referring your own interests on to the next blogger.

Versatile Blogger Award
I am adding a stipulation at the end to the rules, however, as I received them they are:
1.    To thank the person who gave you the award
2.    Include the link to their blog
3.    Share 7 things about yourself
4.    Nominate 15 other blogs you think are worthy of the award
5.    Contact the 15 and inform them of the nomination

Genuine Blogger Award
Marissa is reading medieval history at St Andrew’s in Scotland and is on a wonderful mission to get the general public interested in the Middle Ages. She has a gift at synergising the modern with the old and writes up her medieval subjects beautifully.

With a background as an architect, Chicago-based Rasha is a graphic designer and a mother of three. She also has a fantastic jewelry collection which she’s designed and from seeing her tweets is fluent in French.

Seven things about myself:

1) I don’t know how to drive

2) I haven’t smoked since Storsh was born but frequently have the most wonderful, heavenly dreams of taking a drag in a myriad of places or situations

3) I am a creature of habit and my favourite spring/summer restaurant near my office has closed leaving me to feel homeless. It was an overpriced Italian place with fresh veggies, delicious pasta and a gorgeous courtyard with a running fountain.

4) The sound of fountains remind me of Rome, no matter where I am.

5) I inherited 28 African Violets from my grandmother, some of which were older than I was, and kept them thriving for 4 years despite moving between NY and Brooklyn and back again. They’re still thriving, and dispersed among my friends in both NY and Brooklyn.

6) My mother worked at the MoMA when she moved to NY and once sent out 4000 embossed (or engraved?) invitations to an opening with the wrong date on it. She didn’t get fired.

7) My father was a commodities broker with a seat at the NYSE (the post used to be inherited!) interested in gold and mining, but when asked by snotty ladies at posh parties what he did he’d say he was a Gold Digger and move in a step closer as he raised his whisp of a Chinese brow

"We've been tlaking and we all think it's time you updated your blog"
And now to pass on the blogger love, unfortunately I can’t reach 15, as I just don’t have enough time to read as much as I would like with my job, Storsh and THATLou. Here are some favourites, though:

Love in the City of Lights – Thoughtful musings on the charmed life of Kasia Dietz and her Italian. A fellow transplant from NY, Kasia moved to Paris for her Love and has wowed the town ever since with her gorgeous hand-painted bags.

The Kale Project – Kristen Beddard Heimann is on the impressive (and daunting) crusade of introducing Kale to the French. She’s done a superb job of already furnishing the farmers with (certified) seeds, and is now pulling forces between restaurateurs and chefs in preparation for the first harvest this autumn! She has my full support.

Expat Edna – an inherent globetrotter, Edna Zhou has a wonderful travel blog with posts from Australia to Bulgaria, Shanghai to Paris, and of course Singapore where she lived and where her expat fiance still is. Currently she’s a press agent for the Olympics in London, but will be back to blogging imminently.

52 Martinis – About to launch a 52 Martinis App to Paris, Forest Collins does a fantastic job analysing Martinis and their lounges across Paris each Wednesday with her 52 Martinis members. 52 Martinis is a concept. Her writing is no non-sense, clear, and eloquent.

Savoir Fair Paris – Despite her 10+ years in Paris, Sasha Levenson-Wahl only recently started her Paris Up Close and Personal blog, which provides fresh tips on the city, from travelling with children to logistics about moving here. It accompanies her successful concierge company by the same name.

Paris Breakfasts – Carol Gillott’s enthusiasm and appreciation for Paris is a joy to look at through her posts of photos on all things French. The blog accompanies her beautiful watercolours, again, of all things Parisian. A former James Beard photographer Carol’s focus is often food, more specifically macaroons.

Perfectly Paris – Gail Boisclair has both humour and good cheer in her wonderful blog about Paris, often focusing her eye on excellent photos of Paris from the turn of the century and posting them on Pinterest or FB. Gail has more than 30 apartments for short term rentals in Montmartre, which has time and again won the Conde Nast award.

Lost in Cheeseland – Recently I’ve been very much enjoying Lindsey Tramuta’s Franco File Friday series, started in March 2011, which covers Parisian personalities with insightful questions. I understand that she, too, has a full time job and company making Lola’s Cookies.

Santu Online – As Somesh Mahanty, a recent graduate in India, put it whenever he’s near the weather’s always warm and sunny. I am nearly twice Somesh’s age, and on paper we probably have very little in common, but this wordpress world has brought us together somehow, and I very much enjoy visiting with his life and watching his writing develop. He was my very first reader / like-r / commenter and for that and for his (indeed) sunny disposition I shall always be appreciative!

To Blog or not to blog/ that is the question
As all of you above have been a part of the blogging community far longer than I, you may very well have already received one or both of these awards. In case not, there’s one important point / rule on these lovely honourable mentions I’d like to add:

Under no circumstances are you to feel obliged to pass these awards on. They are not meant to play on your blogging karma, time or guilt conscience. My including you herewith is simply because I enjoy each of your contributions. I’m sure whomever created them would not want to impose obligation.
Food in Art!
12 août 2012
  • THATLou - Food & Wine

Food in Art!

Jan Davidsz de HEEM, A Table of Desserts, 1640, at the Louvre,
Jan Davidsz de HEEM, A Table of Desserts, 1640, at the Louvre, taken from Wikimedia Commons

A TABLE OF DESSERTS

Jan Davidsz de HEEM (Utrecht 1606 – Antwerp 1684)

17th Century, Flemish

JD de Heem was one of the rare Dutch Vanitas masters to capture some of the exuberance of the Flemish baroque. No surprise, as he spent his life ping-ponging between Protestant Utrecht and Catholic Antwerp throughout the ravages of the 30 Years War. The vanitas genre lectured a moral message, for instance some of the fruit here evokes Christian symbolism: Cherries are a fruit of paradise, peaches and apples embody the forbidden fruit, grapes represent redemption, and bread and wine are of course a clear reference to the Eucharist, the bod and blood of Christ. The lute and recorder recall the pleasure of the senses and the globe at top right corner recall the universe.

Louis XIV, whose army ravaged the Netherlands in 1672 (again causing de Heem to head back to Holland), bought this painting for Versailles. Much later Matisse copied it twice – nearly replicating it in an unremarkable art-school copy in 1893, and then nearly 20 years later in 1915 when Matisse was painting during another World War.

Foodies in France, this is just one piece which is a fine candidate for a Food + Wine THATLou. It can be tricky to find (in room 26!) since the 2nd floor Richelieu is interrupted between the Netherlands and Flemish sections via a lovely set of double-barreled stairs (called “Lefuel”), where there are some impish Snyders monkeys stealing fruit). The above de Heem text is taken directly from the hunt, but with one thing missing — something obvious from the below article will be an embedded bonus question… But what? Better read carefully, because as you know there’s no internet during the treasure hunt!

There’s so much to touch on with this one painting alone, throw Matisse in there and it doubles the anti! The 30 Years War (1618 – 1648) and the Peace of Westphalia, Louis XIV and his army, Versailles and the Sun King’s art patronage, de Heem and the vanitas genre… Where to start, what to look at? We can’t do it all, let’s take the most recent – as we rarely have an excuse to discuss modern painters (the Louvre’s collection ends where the Musée d’Orsay – why not toddle across the Seine for a THATd’Or ? – picks up after the mid 19th C.)

Matisse’s 1893 version “Dessert after de Heem”
Matisse’s 1893 version “Dessert after de Heem”, from moodbook

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) did his art-student copy of de Heem’s Table of Desserts at the age of 24 in 1893. That version is really just a replica that any art student could have made with a dim attempt for precise mimicry and little talent to show for it. However, it was important enough to catch his eye later. According to the curators of the MoMA in New York, at the start of the Great War in 1914 the French military requisitioned Matisse’s house in the Paris suburbs of Issy-les-Moulineaux. The following year when Matisse was allowed back in his home he happened across this school version of de Heem’s sumptuous still life and decided to make another copy.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Art Institute of Chicago co-curated a Matisse exhibition in 2010 called “Radical Invention 1913 – 1917” which covered a period in the artist’s life when Matisse didn’t seem to follow any one style, instead jumping from one technique to another, one model to another, one house to another. This, I suppose makes sense, as there was a World War going on after all.

Variation on a Still Life by de Heem, 1915 by Matisse, at the MoMA
Variation on a Still Life by de Heem, 1915 by Matisse, at the MoMA, from www.moma.org

That said Matisse’s own style(s) had come through by 1915 and in his Variation on a Still Life by de Heem (as he called this second version) he pulls from a cubist base and makes de Heem’s Table of Desserts his own. He called what he was doing the “Methods of Modern Construction” looking at old masters and constructing them in his modern context, peeing on the painting so to elegantly speak with vibrant colours and various techniques, yet retaining the composition so to still pay tribute to its provenance.

In a short podcast concerning Matisse’s inspiration, Stephanie d’Alessandro, a co-curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, described Matisse’s approach in his Variation on a Still Life by de Heem a “buffet of techniques”. Apt, for a period of so many (destructive) distractions.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

MoMA co-curator John Elderfield and Michael Duffy also speak of the various Table of Desserts. Matisse’s art-school version is in the Musée Matisse‘s collection in Nice Cimiez’s Villa Arènes. Finding an image of this 1893 version was no easy feat – yet another reference to its obscurity.
Jan Davidsz de HEEM, A Table of Desserts, 1640, at the Louvre, taken from Wikimedia Commons A TABLE OF DESSERTS Jan Davidsz de HEEM (Utrecht 1606 – Antwerp 1684) 17th Century, Flemish JD de Heem was one of the rare Dutch Vanitas masters to capture some of the exuberance of the Flemish baroque. No surprise, as he spent his life ping-ponging between Protestant Utrecht and Catholic Antwerp throughout the ravages of the 30 Years War. The vanitas genre lectured a moral message, for instance some of the fruit here evokes Christian symbolism: Cherries are a fruit of paradise, peaches and apples embody the forbidden fruit, grapes represent redemption, and bread and wine are of course a clear reference to the Eucharist, the bod and blood of Christ. The lute and recorder recall the pleasure of the senses and the globe at top right corner recall the universe. Louis XIV, whose army ravaged the Netherlands in 1672 (again causing de Heem to head back to Holland), bought this painting for Versailles. Much later Matisse copied it twice – nearly replicating it in an unremarkable art-school copy in 1893, and then nearly 20 years later in 1915 when Matisse was painting during another World War. Foodies in France, this is just one piece which is a fine candidate for a Thanksgiving Food + Wine THATLou. It can be tricky to find (in room 26!) since the 2nd floor Richelieu is interrupted between the Netherlands and Flemish sections via a lovely set of double-barreled stairs (called “Lefuel”), where there are some impish Snyders monkeys stealing fruit). The above de Heem text is taken directly from the hunt, but with one thing missing — something obvious from the below article will be an embedded bonus question… But what? Better read carefully, because as you know there’s no internet during the treasure hunt! There’s so much to touch on with this one painting alone, throw Matisse in there and it doubles the anti! The 30 Years War (1618 – 1648) and the Peace of Westphalia, Louis XIV and his army, Versailles and the Sun King’s art patronage, de Heem and the vanitas genre… Where to start, what to look at? We can’t do it all, let’s take the most recent – as we rarely have an excuse to discuss modern painters (the Louvre’s collection ends where the Musée d’Orsay – why not toddle across the Seine for a THATd’Or ? – picks up after the mid 19th C.) Matisse's 1893 version "Dessert after de Heem", taken from www.moodbook.com Matisse’s 1893 version “Dessert after de Heem”, from moodbook Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) did his art-student copy of de Heem’s Table of Desserts at the age of 24 in 1893. That version is really just a replica that any art student could have made with a dim attempt for precise mimicry and little talent to show for it. However, it was important enough to catch his eye later. According to the curators of the MoMA in New York, at the start of the Great War in 1914 the French military requisitioned Matisse’s house in the Paris suburbs of Issy-les-Moulineaux. The following year when Matisse was allowed back in his home he happened across this school version of de Heem’s sumptuous still life and decided to make another copy. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Art Institute of Chicago co-curated a Matisse exhibition in 2010 called “Radical Invention 1913 – 1917” which covered a period in the artist’s life when Matisse didn’t seem to follow any one style, instead jumping from one technique to another, one model to another, one house to another. This, I suppose makes sense, as there was a World War going on after all. Variation on a Still Life by de Heem, 1915 by Matisse, at the MoMA, from www.moma.org Variation on a Still Life by de Heem, 1915 by Matisse, at the MoMA, from www.moma.org That said Matisse’s own style(s) had come through by 1915 and in his Variation on a Still Life by de Heem (as he called this second version) he pulls from a cubist base and makes de Heem’s Table of Desserts his own. He called what he was doing the “Methods of Modern Construction” looking at old masters and constructing them in his modern context, peeing on the painting so to elegantly speak with vibrant colours and various techniques, yet retaining the composition so to still pay tribute to its provenance. In a short podcast concerning Matisse’s inspiration, Stephanie d’Alessandro, a co-curator at the Art Institute of Chicago, described Matisse’s approach in his Variation on a Still Life by de Heem a “buffet of techniques”. Apt, for a period of so many (destructive) distractions. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ MoMA co-curator John Elderfield and Michael Duffy also speak of the various Table of Desserts. Matisse’s art-school version is in the Musée Matisse‘s collection in Nice Cimiez’s Villa Arènes. Finding an image of this 1893 version was no easy feat – yet another reference to its obscurity.
Gourmanding Giants
06 août 2012
  • THATLou - Food & Wine

Gourmanding Giants

Susan Feess, Wan Yan + Tara Byrne posing as 17th Century Dutch ‘Smokers + Drinkers’ above
Food Louvers Susan Feess, Wan Yan + Tara Byrne posing as 17th Century Dutch ‘Smokers + Drinkers’ above, photo by James Feess

Creativity was abounding while the Foodies in France went Treasure Hunting. There were three separate prizes — well, really there was only one special prize, which was a delectable gift certificate to Alisa Morov’s Sweet Pea Baking (and that went to the team who actually won the hunt), but there were three honourable, peerless, shall we call them inimitable categories of excellence and with each category creativity was abounding! While they were off gathering their treasure, each of the 7 teams thought of names for themselves (as listed below), additionally there was a twitter prize (which brought about some of the funniest tweets I’ve ever come across, thanks to Erin Czarra) and lastly, if you  happened to go for the above Simon de Vos 17th Century Smokers and Drinkers painting, hefty bonus points were given you for a limerick on the subject of debauchery.

Perfectly Sweet Paris posing in front of 15th C Italian Bacchanalian Ewers
Perfectly Sweet Paris posing drunken for da big bonus points in front of 15th C Italian Bacchanalian Ewers

The second prize was for the team with the most creative name. This was voted  democratically during our delish and debauched Tuileries picnic, with one of the two lovely Sweet Peas, Margaux, tallying the score:

Drunken Foodgasm – The team who won the tweet prize, due to their brilliant Cat + Mouse, cloak + dagger creativity. Penned so to speak by Erin Czarra of EC in Paris, Drunken Foodgasm partners-in-crime were Sarah Ouadah + Hélène Guinaudeau. They won Louvre Pens to balance their tweeting prowess — and exercise their hand muscles opposed to their phone tapping abilities!

Food Louvers – winners of the Team Name Prize (a Delacroix puzzle). With their photo above and their limerick below, a warm congrats to Tara Byrne and Wan Yan, of Cook’N With Class, and James and Susan Feess, of Feels Like Home in Paris

Four Graces (who won the actual Food + Wine THATLou, so they get a whole paragraph below).

Gorgon Girls – in direct reference to the Gorgon post, their guess for the bonus points was noble as they guessed the question was related to the myth of Medusa and her immortal Gorgon sisters. The GGs contributed a great limerick, as well (which sadly I neglected to copy in the dark of the picnic). A big congrats to Randa Akhras, Cori McAfee and Aimee Holmes

Louvre Lushes – One of two 5-person teams (the larger the team the harder to navigate), the Lushes did admirably with the Norman co-hosts Jenny Beaumont and Jennifer Greco, of Chez Loulou France, joined by Lindsey Tramuta of Lost in Cheeseland, Christi Garcia and Jane whose Marais cooking school La Cuisine Paris overlooks the banks of the Seine.

Perfectly Sweet Paris – Their adorable name was coined in an April Kids THATLou, when masterminds Gail Boisclair (of Perfectly Paris) + Alisa Morov (of Sweet Pea Baking) joined forces with their daughters. Sweet Peas Maia + Margaux were back, but one small tweak was Xavier Macarrilla replaced Yasmin, Gail’s cheshire-cat smiling daughter (as seen here).

Smoking Monkeys and The Old Masters – whose team consisted of Abby Gordon of Paris Weekender, Steve Rhinds of Bear With a Wooden Spoon and Adele Maze, who’s visiting Paris for 5 weeks.  Their name got a good chortle to our votes

Hélène Guinaudeau, Erin Czarra + Sarah Ouadah
Drunken Foodgasm, Winners of the most creative (+ plentiful) tweets, who claimed they’d be dreaming of Greek pots all night. Hélène Guinaudeau, Erin Czarra + Sarah Ouadah

The following debauched limericks were written on the go:

Team Perfectly Sweet Paris
There once were some guys who were Dutch
And we knew that they drank way too much!
Debauchery is fine
and can boggle the mind
as long as you don’t go home with a crutch.


The Food Louvers:

There once was a dame called Delia,
Debauched and divine
She swigged lots of wine
Then picked up a dude
who liked all her moves
And gave her a spin in the Louvre!

Margaux, Maia, Xavier Macarrilla and Gail Boisclair
Perfectly Sweet Paris’s Margaux, Maia, Xavier Macarrilla and Gail Boisclair, racking up bonus pts by capturing all 4 corners of a mammoth Fr Feasting painting

Last but not least, a huge congratulations to the Four Graces whose score broke the THATMuse record! Their secret weapon was La Belle in France‘s Stephanie Elle, whose art history degree (and current art business masters) paid off in navigating the Graces through 65,000m of Louvre. Another of the Graces Margaux Beaulieu, was no doubt quick to pick up bonus points as she’s been helping THATMuse out this summer (Margaux’s opinions + advice are bar-none what run the company. I will be very happy for her when she lands the perfect Event Planning job (please be in touch if you know of an opening), but when this happens THATMuse’s productivity will be enormously depleted). Then there was a glamourous Nordic half of the Graces representing 7 Jades.

Louvre
Chez Loulou‘s gorgeous night shot of the Louvre, taken from our delicious Foodies in France picnic on the grass of the Tuileries
The Art Newspaper
11 septembre 2012
  • Museum Musings,
  • Misc

The Art Newspaper

President Obama presents the 2009 National Humanities Medal to Philippe De Montebello
President Obama presents the 2009 National Humanities Medal to Philippe De Montebello in Washington, taken from daylife.com

I haven’t been very good on the blog front in the past few weeks, struggling to keep up on all my fronts. So as I task myself with returning to some semblance of regular posting I have a bit of distance.  What is it I’d like to get out of blogging here? At one point last spring I had an entry or two on new Islamic wings in Mulling about the Met, The Victoria and Albert and the Louvre’s Cour Visconti (still dubbed to open this Sept – we’ll see!), but overall this blog has addressed either specific works of art at the Louvre (which may just help THATLou participants in their bonus questions) or has reviewed wonderfully memorable treasure hunts and the fun that the hunters have brought to the game. This is the core of the blog which I shall certainly continue, but I’d like to keep an overall dialogue alive, too, where we touch on museums on the whole and the art world at large and perhaps touch on one or two museum personalities here and there. So to start with an overview, what’s better than museum stats lists – the biggest, the oldest, the most popular?

The Art Newspaper is a marvelous source for the general public interested in Art. It’s a monthly published by the Italian publishing house Umberto Allemandi and is about the art world (you’d never guess it from the name, eh?). Though it’s catered principally to art professionals, it’s not a dry trade magazine.  I find it accessible and enjoyable to the layman (me) within the art world, however I also trust it as a source, because it has my old crush, Philippe de Montebello’s stamp of approval.

Philippe de Montebello in 1978
Philippe de Montebello in 1978, photo by Paul Hosefros published in the NY Times on 9 Jan 2008

The former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY was the first museum president I ever formed an opinion of (that baritone voice, that fine accent, ah, what starry-eyed teen wouldn’t swoon? – ok, ok, I was a dork. But I wasn’t allowed to watch TV, I had to have some sort of entertainment). After 31 years at the Met de Montebello resigned in 2008 (here’s an adieu from Michael Kimmelman in the NY Times, with the excellent title “The Legacy of a Pragmatic Custodian of Human Civilisation“) to go down a few blocks to NYU and create a course which he described as “the history of collecting, connoisseur-ship and evolution of museums including the central issue of how the museum’s mission can be defined in today’s world”. Oh what I wouldn’t give to take that course, and at my old alma mater no less – but babies and jobs and 6000 miles keep me from it heart-breakingly.

In any case, with regard to The Art Newspaper de Montebello said it “stresses accuracy embracing an editorial policy that consistently reveals a high degree of seriousness and sense of responsibility.” (13 April 2006 issue of The Art Newspaper).  Its subjects range from art market discussions to art book reviews and Op-Eds, from curator interviews and features to new wing openings, down to conservation techniques and new discoveries. One list it produces, which all general newspapers like the BBC pick up each year, is the most visited stats.

This week I shall post the top fifteen museum attendance list from The Art Newspaper with an aim to use it as a loose TOC, to touch on those most popular museums, and perhaps cover links between them.

And, yes, I couldn’t help but put the photo of yet another crush at the top of the page – how great is that, a photo of Obama with de Montebello?
Crazy Louvre Stats (+ Others)
13 septembre 2012
  • Museum Musings

Crazy Louvre Stats (+ Others)

 Le Louvre, photographed by Jennifer Greco
Le Louvre, photographed by Jennifer Greco and published in www.ChezLoulou.blogspot.com

As promised in the last post regarding The Art Newspaper (with a slight interruption discussing the distracting former director of the Met, Philippe de Montebello), below are the top 15 of a list of 100 museums that comprise the world’s most visited museums list for 2011.

So if the Louvre has nearly 9 million visitors a year that comes to approximately 30,000 visitors a day (it’s closed on Tuesdays and bank holidays). According to a Carol Vogel profile in the NY Times on Henri Loyrette the Louvre’s attendance was up 67% during Loyrette’s tenure (which started in 2001, after 18 years as the head of the Musée d’Orsay) until 2009 when the profile was published.

In this article Loyrette’s quoted as saying that 80% of the attendees only go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. This point alone is good cause to have started THATLou, don’t you think? To try to get the people off the beaten track… That poor marble floor should be as deep as the English trenches with approximately 7.2 million people tromping along, blinders on, with eyes only for the Mona Lisa. The Louvre has signs all over the place with tattered photocopies of da Vinci’s painting, I guess for those who don’t even know what it’s called?

Last spring I met one of the heads of the American Friends of the Louvre (AFL) who used to work at the Louvre. She told me that one morning when entering the museum at about 9.30 AM from the Porte des Lions  entrance (along the Seine, at the western end of Denon) there were already people leaving the museum! Which, given the size of the endless Italian Galeries (which Denon houses), means they didn’t even really bother to look at their checked-off-been-there-done-that Mona Lisa! No matter how swiftly they were walking — it takes a good while to get from the main entrance to the Porte des Lions exit at the farthest southwest sortie (as seen below).

Porte des Lions – SouthWestern wing of the Louvre, photographed by Jennifer Greco
Porte des Lions – SouthWestern wing of the Louvre, photographed by Jennifer Greco and published in www.ChezLoulou.blogspot.com

Anyway, back to our generalised stats… If you’re interested in the top-rated exhibitions of 2011, please see this hyperlink to The Art Newspaper’s April issue. It’s quite interesting, but be warned if you’re reading this on a phone it’s a heavy PDF. As for the promised top 15 museum attendence records for 2011, they’re listed below. At one point I may expand on this list and start to mark physical sizes of some museums. I believe the largest museum physically is the Hermitage, then probably the Louvre with its 65,000m². But these are just me guessing. I’ll also hopefully hone in on some museum expansions, for instance of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Rafael Moneo and his tasteful addition to the Museo del Prado in 2007.

And for all those crazy-stats-addicts among you, here’s another: Apparently there are more than 2000 people who work at the Louvre. The size of a small town!

Rank Museum City Country Visitor count
1 Musée du Louvre Paris France 8,880,000
2 Metropolitan Museum of Art New York United States 6,004,254
3 British Museum London United Kingdom 5,848,534
4 National Gallery London United Kingdom 5,253,216
5 Tate Modern London United Kingdom 4,802,287
6 National Gallery of Art Washington United States 4,392,252
7 National Palace Museum Taipei Taiwan 3,849,577
8 Centre Pompidou Paris France 3,613,076
9 National Museum of Korea Seoul South Korea 3,239,549
10 Musée d’Orsay Paris France 3,154,000
11 Museo del Prado Madrid Spain 2,911,767
12 State Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg Russia 2,879,686
13 Museum of Modern Art New York United States 2,814,746
14 Victoria & Albert Museum London United Kingdom 2,789,400
15 Museo Reina Sofía Madrid Spain 2,705,529
A special thanks to Jennifer Greco for her incredible eye, crafty camera-work and lovely blog, Chez Loulou, where she posted these photos with a generous thatlou plug.
Leonardo’s Lover!
28 septembre 2012
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul

Leonardo’s Lover!

So who painted this now famous Prado-owned La Gioconda? Fueled with personalities and possibly sordid details, it’s a fun question to examine.

 da Vinci’s Helicopter drawing
da Vinci’s Helicopter drawing, taken from Wikipedia

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is too large a topic to address for one post. But I’m happy to draw a rough sketch. Though I much prefer the paintings of many of his contemporaries (Ghirlandaio, Perugino and Botticelli all preferable marks, who also apprenticed in Verrocchio’s studio with da Vinci), it can’t be overlooked that the man was a genius. He conceptualized a helicopter in the 16th century, that’s just cool. And Pope Leo X commissioned him to make a mechanical lion that moved forward and whose chest opened to reveal lilies – this as a gift for Leonardo’s last patron, the King of France, François Ier. Leonardo was the bastard son of an aristocratic Notary father and peasant mother, and grew up in Vinci (thus his last name), near Florence. (and is buried in the Chateau d’Amboise, thanks to François Ier)

But this story isn’t about Leonardo – exactly. It’s about whoever it was who stood next to Leonardo and painted the Prado’s La Giaconda as he, Leo, was painting the Louvre’s most famous icon, the Mona Lisa. But to fill in some da Vinci background — as well as to keep your interest because it is, after all, juicy – I feel it necessary to mention that Leonardo’s name was sullied through court records in 1476; At 24 years old, he and three other young men were charged with sodomy with a well-known male prostitute. Lucky for da Vinci, one of the three companions was Lionardo de Tornabuoni — a relative of Lorenzo de’ Medici, who no doubt weighed in his influence on the court to drop the charges. So as of 24 years aged, Leonardo’s sexuality and the sexuality (and sometimes lack thereof) in his art were subjects of interest.

Andrea Salai, one of Leonardo’s two favorite pupils, is believed to be the model for Leonardo’s St John the Baptist (now at the Louvre). This eroticism as well as Leonardo’s Bacchus (another of Salai) give rise to scuttle that they were lovers. Other more erotic drawings reinforce the rumor which has been bouncing around since Giorgio Vasari (the mid-16th Century art historian and author of The Lives – a man who first put down the word ‘Renaissance’ as a description of the era) described Salai of being “a graceful and beautiful youth with curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted”. Salai’s nickname “Little Satan” was indicative of his deportment: He started out as a servant / apprentice in Leonardo’s employ at the age of 10 and within the first year was caught five times thieving, lying and cheating. But Leonardo was indulgent — to the point, 30 odd years later, of leaving Salai half of his vineyards as well as some of his paintings. This Last Will and Testament raises an interesting point, to be returned to.

Leonardo’s St John the Baptist, 1513-1516, at the Louvre
Leonardo’s St John the Baptist, 1513-1516, at the Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

Another of Leonardo’s life-long pupil / companions was Francesco Melzi, who was the son of a nobleman and “apprenticed” under Leonardo till the latter’s death in Amboise. In fact Melzi was so close it was he who informed Leonardo’s family of his death (one does wonder if Salai would have known how to write, though it’s clear he was capable with the brush).

Head conservator at the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France, Bruno Mottin, believes that the most likely painter of the Prado La Gioconda was one of these two students, Leonardo’s favourite pupils. If the Prado replica is eventually attributed to Melzi, it suggests a late date for the original, because Melzi joined Leonardo in 1506.

On the other hand if it’s the hand of Salai, then it’s unlikely that Salai ever inherited the original, as was previously assumed. This would mean the Louvre would have to re-examine the world’s most famous painting’s early history! A tremendous upset for the behemoth of museums – since they don’t even want to have it cleaned for fear of anything going awry (despite her looking twice her age due to the cracks in the painting – just look at the difference between the Prado’s version versus the Louvre’s in the last post).

There are a handful of articles pointing to the Prado’s La Gioconda as being at the hand of Andrea Salai, but nothing’s confirmed. One does have to appreciate this re-discovery was only made a bit over 6 months ago. As the life of either of these paintings is over 500 years I think we can cut the conservationists a bit of slack.

Next post shall wrap this story up with in two subjects – show some dazzling paintings by Leonardo’s contemporaries (listed above) and at least touch on Andrea Salai, whose real name was Gian Giacomo Caprotti, as a third-rate painter (opposed to lingering only on Salai’s salacious existence). Although ‘third-rate’ — who knows, this Prado discovery may just change history’s opinion of Leonardo’s reputed lover!
THATLou Christmas Count Down
21 décembre 2012
  • Museum Musings

THATLou Christmas Count Down

This Annunciation is by Carlo Braccesco, a Renaissance painter from Liguria active from 1478 to 1501. Doesn’t it look like Mary’s dodging a pigeon?

Annunciation - Carlo Braccesco
Annunciation – Carlo Braccesco, 16th C, Denon, 1st fl Grande Galerie Salle 5

The Annunciation is one of the most popular subjects in religious art. The story comes from Luke — Archangel Gabriel comes to the Virgin Mary out of the nowhere  (almost invariably he enters her bedchamber from a courtyard, although soon I’ll write about a great Annunciation at the National Gallery in DC by Jan van Eyck which has Gabriel visiting her in a church/temple) to announce to her that despite having lost out on not getting any she’s going to have to go through the fun of being preggers for 9 months. Then she’ll give birth to the son of God, which he suggests (strongly, sometimes) she name Jesus, which means “Saviour”.Logically the Annunciation takes place nine months prior to Christmas on 25 March (and according to Wikipedia the English celebrate it, which I find interesting as I think of the English as largely Protestant, so they technically shouldn’t believe in saints and miracles, but perhaps they’re just Protestants for the sake of Henry VIII replacing his wives?).

Anyway, in art the Annunciation generally has a few of the following symbolic elements: The Lilly (the Virgin’s purity**), a ray of laser-like light from a window (indicates God’s imminent incarnation), a blown out candle (symbolic of God’s divinity, about to be extinguished, a further reference to the Incarnation – the moment when God became man), a dove (flying towards Mary’s ear — which is where conception took place. No laughing, please), flowers in a vase (the “Golden Legend” took place in Nazareth, which means Flower, but also points out to when it took place, the springtime). And for some reason usually Mary’s reading when Gabriel interrupts/surprises/visits her.

I will save my favourite Louvre Annunciation for tomorrow — for now I’ll leave you with some Louvre second-rate ones (when compared to my beloved Annunciation by Rogier van der Weyden).

Bernardo Daddi
Annunciation – Bernardo Daddi, 1335 Florence

Sometimes Mary and Gabriel are on the same footing, and it’s just an idle conversation you may see between neighbours in their respective backyards, through an open gate or over a fence.

Annunciation – Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) St Maria Novella d’Arezzo
Annunciation – Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) St Maria Novella d’Arezzo

Or you can see the Virgin as Vasari did, as a Yogi levitating. We have Vasari to thank for having Art History, insofar as his The Lives was the first book about his contemporary Renaissance painters. He was great in many ways (including giving us the smut! As THATMuse passed along when pondering Leonardo’s Lover), but actually painting was not one of Vasari’s strong-suits. He should have kept to writing as this Annunciation reflects.

Annunciation – Giulio Cesare Procaccini, 1620, Milano
Annunciation – Giulio Cesare Procaccini, 1620, Milano

Or then you have Procaccini’s Annunciation where it looks like Gabriel’s about to snap his wrist across Mary’s face

“You WILL call him Jesus”

“Cummmon, Man! I want to name him Graydon!”

++++++++++++++++++++

Tomorrow you’ll get the good stuff – the Annunciation from some Northerners. Just a quick PS, though, Gabriel bringing Mary the lilies started appearing in Florentine Annunciations in the 14th century. The fleurs-de-lis (flower of lilies) was the heraldic symbol of Florence. Rivaling Siena, whose painters had their own school of thought on the matter, had Gabriel bring the Virgin an olive branch, which symbolised their own fine city. Gotta love the propaganda!


Announcing Christ(mas)
23 décembre 2012
  • Museum Musings

Announcing Christ(mas)

Annunciation 1440, Rogier van der Weyden
Annunciation 1440, Rogier van der Weyden (1399 – 1464), at the Louvre

Yesterday’s Christmas Countdown reviewed the symbolic elements that usually appear in The Annunciation, accompanied by some really 2nd-rate versions of the common subject found at the Louvre. As promised, today we’re getting the good stuff. In general my favourite periods of painting tend to be either Italian or Spanish Baroque. That said there are some things for which the early Netherlandish just can’t be beat — among them, symbolism and minuscule rich detail. So with that, I’ll leave you with three peerless Annunciations in Paris, NY and DC. Each detail in all three paintings have merited full PhD doctorate thesises. I will choose just one point and leave you with a short paragraph:

Rogier van der Weyden’s Annunciation at the Louvre (above):

Look at the small glass vase on the mantle above the fireplace, on the upper left hand side. The way it catches the light is brilliant, as is the shadow it casts on the grey corner. But it also means something – which is part of what makes this period so incredibly tight, that nothing can be left for ‘random’. The very shape of that carafe is another reference to conception and birth. Drawn from the ‘scientific’ world, alchemists of the time used them to mix so-called male and female elements and called them “bridal chambers”.  When elements joined to form a third substance it was called a ‘child of the union’. These “bridal chamber” flasks** appear in numerous paintings of the time from Hans Memling to Hieronymous Bosch, from van Eyck to our very own van der Weyden’s Annunciation.

The Merode Triptych (1427-1432) – Robert Campin, at the Met’s Cloisters (NY)
The Merode Triptych (1427-1432) – Robert Campin, at the Met’s Cloisters (NY)

The Mérode Triptych tells the story of the Annunciation, with the donors kneeling in the courtyard to the left and Joseph, a carpenter and Mary’s betrothed, is building a mousetrap on the right. The mousetrap symbolizes Christ’s trapping and defeat of the devil, a metaphor used thrice by St Augustine. More traps are found outside the window which Art Historian Erwin Panofsky (NYU, Princeton and Harvard) purported again symbolized that Jesus was used as a bait to capture Satan. Mice aside – can you see how the shutters are attached to the celling in Joseph’s studio? Such detail is a true delight and well worth taking the A train to the very top of Manhattan to see the Met’s medieval collection.

Annunciation 1434-1436, Jan van Eyck, Nat’l Gallery in Washington DC
Annunciation 1434-1436, Jan van Eyck, Nat’l Gallery in Washington DC

Though you may not be able to make this out, unless it’s projected on a large art history screen or in person perhaps, you can see that there are little words coming out of Gabriel and Mary’s mouths. In Latin, Gabriel says, “Hail, full of Grace…” and Mary demurs “Behold the Handmaiden of the Lord…”. If you can get past the somehow funny nature of the  cartoon-captions coming out of their mouths, you have to acknowledge that it’s pretty damned cool that van Eyck had Mary’s “Ecce Ancilla Dni” written upside down so that it would face God, since that is who she was addressing.

For a far more academic (and fascinating) piece on symbolism within Hans Memling’s Annunciation with Angelic Attendants by Shiraly Neilsen Blum, published by the Metropolitan Museum or Art in 1992, click on the link. This 16 page excerpt covers all three paintings as well as other Annunciations and their symbolism.
Buon Natale da Firenze!
25 décembre 2012
  • Museum Musings

Buon Natale da Firenze!

Sandro Botticelli's Madonna del Magnificat
Sandro Botticelli’s Madonna del Magnificat 1481, at the Uffizi, taken from Wikipedia

The Madonna Enthroned with baby Jesus in her lap and various saints in attendance is by far the most common religious subject in art history. To take a break from the Louvre’s Christmas paintings, and to veer from the divine Early Netherlandish Annunciations, for Christmas we’re turning out attention to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence with three Madonna and Child treasures.

Pietro Perugino's Enthroned Madonna and Christ
Pietro Perugino’s Enthroned Madonna and Christ , 1493, at the Uffizi, taken from Wikipedia

Back when we were considering Leonardo’s Contemporaries we touched on three fellow students all of whom flourished in their own style and by their own means. Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Leonardo da Vinci were all four students at one point or another in Andrea del Verrocchio’s 15th Century Florentine studio.

Domenico Ghirlandaio's Madonna + Child
Domenico Ghirlandaio’s Madonna + Child enthroned with Saints, 1483, at the Uffizi, taken from Wikipedia

Just a quick thought on each of the three: That first Botticelli Madonna del Magnificat is actually the Piero de’ Medici family, pudgy Jesus’s hand on a pomegranate symbolising the Resurrection. Perugino, always a smooth operator, painted the same scene with a silky, serene stroke: Mary and Christ flanked by Saint John the Baptist (in hirsute) and St Sebastian (a fave subject of Perugino).  And essays (and probably books, too) have been written about Oriental Carpets in Renaissance painting, with that last Ghirlandaio being included in all of them, no doubt.

Without much more ado I shall let the paintings speak for themselves, and leave you without more text than to say:

Happy Christmas!
3 Kings Day THATLou!
06 janvier 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

3 Kings Day THATLou!

Adoration of the Magi
Bernardino Luini’s Adoration of the Magi, 1520-25, au Louvre (from Wikipedia)

Today is the eve of Epiphany, 6 January! A day of merrymaking, the 12th Day of Christmas has more than 12 drummers drumming (which apparently refers to the 12 points of doctrine in the Apostle’s creed, within the Christmas carol)… It has Three Kings visiting baby Christ in Bethlehem; Melchior, Gaspar (sometimes known as Caspar) and Balthazar were the Magi or Three Wise Men representing Europe, Arabia and Africa. They arrived on horse, camel and elephant and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, respectively. Balthazar is one of my favourite names – in fact I used to be a regular at a Keith McNally resto in NY by the same name just as an excuse to enunciate it.

Different cultures give Three Kings Day different rituals. Argentina (and most other Spanish-speaking countries) on the eve of El Día de los Reyes has children polish their shoes and leave them outside their door filled with grass or hay, a bowl of water next to them. The morning of 6 Jan, the shoes are filled with gifts and the bowl’s empty (the camels having eaten the hay and drunk the water). Why shoes, I’m not sure (but why Christmas stockings for us? Must look it up). The French, true to their tummies, have a frangipane-filled Galettes des Rois (almond-paste filled cake that has a little figurine known as la fève (originally a broad bean, or fève). Whoever gets the slice of cake with the fève is king for the day. The president at the Elysée Palace has a Galette des Rois that’s more than a meter in diameter, but it’s without a fève, because it wouldn’t be very fitting to find a King in the presidential palace of the Republic, now would it? In the States Three Kings Day is when you’re supposed to exchange your gifts (though we’ve moved this forward to the Hallmark date of 25 Dec) and is also the day you take down your Christmas tree and decorations.

But we’re getting side tracked here – what is the single most important thing that’s happening in France for the 2013 Three Kings Day? No it’s not that meter-wide, feve-less gâteau at the Elysée, pshah! It’s the Kings + Leaders THATLou, of course! And what is this post devoted to, but one of the treasures that our hunters will be chasing after. Lucky are those that are reading these words, because otherwise they wouldn’t know that Bernardino Luini (1480/82 – 1532)’s fine Adoration of the Magi fresco (seen above) can be found in the Duchatel Room (seen below):

Duchatel Room, Denon
Duchatel Room, Denon, 1st Floor, Room 2 (taken from the Louvre Atlas database)

Not a lot is known about Luini, other than that he moved to Milano in 1500 from his small town near Lago Maggiore and that in Milano he was heavily influenced by Leonardo, with whom he worked. One of his signatures is graceful female figures with elongated eyes, which Vladimir Nabokov called “Luiniesque” in La Venezia (1924).

The Duchatel Room (found on the 1st floor of the Denon Wing, off of the Italian Gallery), has been the subject of a handful of interesting articles. The collection was left to the Louvre together, and included the Fra Angelico crucifixion (seen in the photo) as well as two Ingres.

The hunters will get a bit more about the Luini Adoration of the Magi tomorrow (a painting which would also be suitable for a Structure + Space THATLou, so organised is the architecture in the quiet scene). Though not half so well known as Georges de La Tour’s Adoration of the Shepherds. I think it’s twice as attractive!
J’Adore THATd’Or
19 janvier 2013
  • THATd’Or

J’Adore THATd’Or

THATd'Or Invitation
I hope they sing J’Adore THATd’Or !!

You can’t really tell, but the photo in this RIP-ROARINGLY EXCITING INVITATION is of a gorgeous Piet Mondrian landscape (credited below) that has a white plume of steam (train) defining the horizon. It’s much better in person, so I guess you’re just going to have to sign up for the very first THATd’Or… Dope! was that a hint that it just might be included?

And apologies for all of the bold, caps and itals, but I’m clearly over the moon that the American Friends of the Musee d’Orsay (AFMO)’s AVANT Garde Young Patrons have invited me to cross the Seine. A very special thanks to Sarah Miller Benichou, Kristina Tencic and Mary Kay, of Out and About in Paris (who’s very suggestion it was to contact Sarah!).

More to come on this front, in the fortnight leading up to the Thursday 31 January THATd’Or!!

Photo credit: Piet Mondrian, Polder landscape with a train and a small windmill on the horizon, 1907 © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski, 2013 American Friends Musee d’Orsay, All rights reserved.
J’Adore THATd’Or Theme
01 janvier 2013
  • THATd’Or

J’Adore THATd’Or Theme

It’s the final countdown to the AFMO’s AVANT Garde J’Adore THATd’Or … which means it’s time to unveil tomorrow night’s theme! You may have already guessed this mystery theme from the serene Mondrian painting on the invitation? My original goal had been to make the hunt exclusively about trains + motion. What could be more suitable than to tip one’s treasure-hunt hat to the history of this gorgeous building? As I’m sure you all know, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station, built in only 2 years and unveiled on 14 July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. Until 1939 the Gare d’Orsay covered the southwestern French lines (thereafter it served the suburbs as the length of the building (138 meters) was too short for the longer trains which appeared during the electrification of trains). During the war it was where prisoners’ mail was dispatched. And before Mitterand unveiled it as a museum in 1986, it was the temporary home to auctioneers (while Druout was being built) as well as being the set for Kafka’s The Trial, by Orson Welles (1962). It’s clearly had several lives, but the Musée d’Orsay celebrates its train station roots beautifully and seemlessly.

Gare d'Orsay
Gare d’Orsay, photo taken from © Musée d’Orsay

But alas, I wasn’t able to focus exclusively on Trains in art, as the museum keeps things fresh and rotates their collections every two weeks. This is a joy and gift to its visitors (to make sure their collection in storage doesn’t gather dust), but it also keeps treasure hunt makers on their toes!  So tomorrow night’s theme will be Motion + Movement. What subjects might this touch on? Well, a lot: wild waters, divine dancers, prancing putti and of course any locomotive you can think of.  As the museum’s collections pertain to art from 1848 – 1914 there is certainly a fascination with trains, yes, but also an appreciation for industry and workers, think of Zola’s human machine or mechanical man, say. And of course the twists and turns of agonizing lovers is never old when it comes to art, be it songs, poems or bronze reliefs by Rodin (oops, did that slip out?).

So before giving up too much of the hunt, I’ll leave you with just one more thought:

Musee d'Orsay
What’s more germane to THAT than time distorted and looming over a museum?

Musee d'Orsay Clock
Musée d’Orsay Clock

Ok, enough out of me. Tomorrow I’ll post a brief outline of the night’s events. In the meantime, have fun and look forward to our Night Hunt!


Tonight? THATd’Or
02 janvier 2013
  • THATd’Or

Tonight? THATd’Or

Musée d’Orsay at night
Musée d’Orsay at night, taken from www.freemages.co.uk

Dear Night Hunters!

Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s AVANT Garde, and I are pleased as punch that tonight’s THATd’Or is finally here. Time will be tight tomorrow (the sound track of Mission Impossible may be beating to your movements for the night), so I’m posting a quick run-down of the evening:

·         We’ll meet promptly at 7.45 pm. Once everyone’s gathered we’ll use the museum’s private entrance (The AFMO’s special entrance… Become a member and you’ll become familiar with it!)
·         After everyone’s inside we’ll check our coats (please remember to wear comfortable shoes)
·         As soon as you’ve checked your coats we’ll reconvene here, in front of the Statue of Liberty* where we’ll be welcomed and I’ll hand out the hunts and review the rules one more time.

AFMO Statue of Liberty Prototype
The AFMO-cleaned Statue of Liberty prototype, by Auguste Bartholdi

·         We’ll need to synchonise our clocks and agree to the finishing point and time (probably 9.30 pm back at the coat check – so take mental note of where this is!)
·         Then divided up in our teams you’ll have 10 or 15 minutes to strategise as a team and then at the appointed time off you’ll set (ideally by 8.10 pm)
·         Kristina and I will be wandering about, drinking up the lovely treasure as well as keeping an eye open for any possible cheaters (so beware! No running, no separating, no external help (iPhones, guards, tourists-in-the-know)…

rue Verneuil
rue Verneuil, Gainsbourg’s house, taken from Wikipedia

– Once we’ve regrouped we’ll have a bit of fresh air, en route to Le Petit Jacob (passing Serge Gainsbourg’s house on rue Verneuil, along the way).

La Petit Jacob
Le Petit Jacob, the back’s reserved for our prize-giving ceremony

– Madame Claude Million will welcome us to her Le Petit Jacob where we’ll have a glass of Bio wine while we meet the competition, tally our scores and have the prize-giving ceremony! For those of you who need to make plans after the night’s event, Le Petit Jacob is at 40 rue Jacob, facing rue Benoit. Closest metros are St Germain des Prés (line 4) or Mabillon (line 10).

La Petit Jacob
Le Petit Jacob, 40 rue Jacob 75006 Paris

And of course, to get to the Musée d’Orsay take line 12 to Soférino. Apart from being south of the Seine and in an entirely different space, this hunt is obviously different from any THATLous on a basic level. That said, the answer to all the knowledge-based bonus questions can be found within the hunt – it’s just a matter of your team playing to its strengths (who’s good at navigating maps, who’s good at reading fine print, who’s visually-oriented to scan a room for your delicious treasure?).

Alrighty then, Happy Hunting
xx,
Daisy


THATd’Or Round-up
06 février 2013
  • THATd’Or

THATd’Or Round-up

Alexandre Falguiere's Winner of a Cockfight
Alexandre Falguière’s Winner of a Cockfight (1870), Musée d’Orsay

J’Adore THATd’Or. I do, j’Adore it to bits. Co-host Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s Avant Garde, and I thought it went off rather well, based exclusively on the bubbly attitude everyone had when we regrouped at Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty.

As you’ll see from the silly photos below some of the bonus questions requested our fine hunters to pose as various Edgar Degas dancers (awkward as they stretch), as well as the Falguière Winner of the Cockfight, with one leg raised, one arm in the air, victorious! But they had to ask someone else to take their picture, and some of the photos were even taken with the whole of the Musée d’Orsay Cafe Campana watching them balance.
Edgar Degas Ballerinas
Edgar Degas Ballerinas, Musée d’Orsay

The winners of the game, Team Orsay, got a whopping 1600 points (out of 2000), which perhaps reflects that all three of these Sexy Young Things were AFMO members. Pays to join, doesn’t it?

THATd'Or Prize
THATd’Or Prize went to Team Orsay!

Rather ridiculously, I don’t have a photo of the winning Team Orsay (which stands for Obviously Really Sexy And Young). That said, I look forward to seeing Team Orsay, consisting of Elizabeth Kozina, Melissa Heyhoe and Lauren Hasty, for the Easter Hunt, as this prize above (made in part with the help of Allison Blumenthal) was granted to each of them.

Additionally, our THATd’Orers (doesn’t really work so well as a name), were called on to think of a team name for themselves, which we then voted for when we got to Le Petit Jacob. I suspect most people wanted to vote for the THATd’Or Treasure Whores, (because who can top such a great name?), but an inherent desire to win this second prize (a wood train, as per the hunt’s theme, Motion and Movement) kept people to voting for themselves.

THATd'Or Treasure Whores
THATd’Or Treasure Whores Won the Team Name Contest

Here we have the THATd’Or Treasure Whores posing as the Cockfight Winner. Can you tell they are facing the entire Cafe Campana as they pose? From left to right, Kasia Dietz (of Kasia Dietz handmade bags), Suzanne Flenard (of Square Modern, Mid-Century designer cushions) and Anne Mullier (of Ritournelle Blog).

Allison Blumenthal
Allison Blumenthal + Jennifer team

Team Franglais d’Orsay were particularly graceful (and unabashed) in their Degas ballet poses Allison Blumenthal (whose photography and artwork you can see here) and Jennifer Lejeune were joined by Jennifer’s friend from Brazil (whose name I sadly didn’t catch).

Team with Statue of Liberty
Team 2 Men + a MeRegan did not win the name prize, but they did come in 2nd to the actual game prize. Their team name needs a bit of explaining, “2 Men” were the only male hunters, so their gender needed highlighting. Moreover the coincidence of having two ladies named Megan (Megan McGuire) and Regan (Regan Lynn), both of which are spelled this way, explains their name (which won out over 8 Thumbs, which I’m rather partial to, too).

Team Swingers
Team Swingers as Degas Dancers

Team Swingers are seen here posing as Degas dancers.  Camilla Kleniewski, Nathalie R., Stephanie B and Anka Sima came in just 25 points below the second team at an impressive 1450.

Nicky, Grace and Lilian
Nicky, Grace and Lilian

Team La Chasse d’Or had an elegant name (but sadly sex sells) and consisted of Nicky Berry (Growing Berries), Grace Alyssa (photographer behind Besotted Grace) and Lilian Lau (Lil + Destinations). I thank all three of them for their generous reviews of THATMuse and THATd’Or, respectively. All three are linked in parenthetically here.

Team Dali Lama
Team Dali Lama: Katie Knowles, Liz Mockapetris and Ahnnie (apologies for my spelling) were surreally peaceful as they trekked for their treasure.

Kristina Tencic and Daisy de Plume
AFMO’s Kristina Tencic and THAT’s Daisy de Plume

And then a quick snap of Team AFMO THATd’Or, which a wandering tourist took of us as we patrolled the gorgeous halls of the Musée d’Orsay (prowling for cheaters), and having fun chatting. It was an all-round great evening, hopefully to be repeated!

In the coming days more photos of the night’s event will be uploaded on the AFMO website as well as on our respective AFMO and THATMuse Facebook pages.
Règles en Français – Rallye au Musée du Louvre!
08 février 2016
  • Hunt Booking Info

Règles en Français – Rallye au Musée du Louvre!

Chasse au trésor ou rallye au Musée du Louvre célèbre pour l’abondance des ses oeuvres remarquables.  Découverte le Louvre (ou le Musée d’Orsay, avec “THATd’Or“) avec nous pour une approche originale, thématique, insolite et ludique!

THATLou (TREASURE HUNT AT THE LOUVRE, Chasse aux trésor au Louvre)

Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet
Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet

Les règles générales sont assez simples! Nous vous distribuons une liste d’œuvres d’art au début de chaque THATLou. Chaque équipe doit se photographier devant autant d’œuvres d’art se trouvant sur cette liste que possible. Si vous envisagez de ne pas respecter les règles ci-dessous, sachez qu’il y aura des espions dans le musée (hi hi!). Si l’on vous voit courir ou que les membres de votre équipe sont séparés par exemple, vous serez automatiquement pénalisés.

Il s’avère que de fois les questions bonus demandent de poser pour des photos; des autres fois ils sont purement informatives, dans ce cas la réponse peut être toujours trouvée sur les photocopies ou sur les plaques au Musée.

Chaque équipe devrait s’organiser pour trouver ses points forts. Les rôles plus importants sont navigateur (quelqu’un qui sait bien lire les plans); la personne avec des yeux de lynx pour lire les toutes petites lettres; et celui qui a de la capacité pour bien s’orienter dans l’espace pour trouver les œuvres sur les salles. Les équipes sont formes de 2 à 4 personnes.

Les points bonus sont intégrés dans le texte (les photos de chaque pièce du trésor / œuvres d’art sont accompagnées d’un texte). Certains des points bonus sont en lien avec des articles publiés sur le blog (en anglais). Vous pouvez faire une recherche sur le site avec les mots associés à votre chasse au trésor (par exemple Beauty + the Beast(iary). Bestiary en anglais sont « créatures merveilleuses », comme griffons ou dragons, Centaures et Satyrs ou le sphinx ou Cerbère (le chien à trois têtes, vicieux, qui gardait Hadès, le monde des morts).  Les points bonus sont importants mais pas assez importants pour faire gagner à eux seuls une équipe.

Daisy de Plume
Daisy de Plume

Règles

1. En ce qui concerne les photographies, n’utilisez qu’un seul téléphone/appareil photo par équipe s’il vous plait. La personne (dans l’équipe) qui prends les photos peut changer mais continuez à utiliser le même appareil. Ces règles permettent de faciliter le décompte des scores à la fin du jeu.

2. Les membres d’une équipe doivent rester ensemble pendant tout le jeu et ne pas courir: si l’on vous voit à plus de 3 mètres l’un de l’autre, vous perdez 10 points par pieds qui vous sépare et l’équipe qui vous voit séparés récupérera vos points perdus! (et oui ! nous venons de passer de mètres à pieds…vous ne voulez pas apprendre l’équivalent de conversion de cette manière, restez ensemble!)

3. Aucune aide extérieure…Si l’on vous voit parler à un employé du Louvre, touriste ou personne de la sécurité, vous serez automatiquement éliminé du jeu. De même, vous n’avez pas le droit d’utiliser Internet ou tout outils autre (aucune Smart Phone) qu’une carte officielle du Louvre pendant le jeu. Je vais vous surveiller, ne vous faites pas attraper!

4. Nous devons nous retrouver à un endroit sur lequel nous nous sommes mis d’accord à l’avance à une heure précise (nous synchroniserons nos montres et nous motterons d’accord sur une heure de fin avant de commencer). Chaque minute de retard fait perdre 2 points à l’équipe mais souvenez-vous, ne courrez pas! Ceux qui ont 10 minutes de retards et plus seront disqualifiés. Parfois, il y a des raisons stratégiques pour être en retard, faites attention!


Daisy de Plume
En Résumé

·         Ne courrez pas
·         Pas d’Internet
·         Restez proches les uns des autres
·         Ne parlez à personne en dehors des membres de votre équipe
THE American Expat Painter
01 mars 2013
  • THATd’Or

THE American Expat Painter

Yes, I guess that title and caps-lock implies just how very much I like John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). He’s probably my favorite American painter*, expat or otherwise.

A Street in Venice, 1880
A Street in Venice, 1880, Clark Art Institute, Mass

I’m happy to say a second THATd’Or is imminently descending upon the coffered halls of the Musée d’Orsay! Kristina Tencic, the AFMO’s Communications Liaison, and I are co-hosting another treasure hunt. This time it’s private and for an exclusive group of expat Americans who’ve been in France for a long time. Who at the Musée d’Orsay could represent such a group better than John Singer Sargent?

The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit
The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, MFA, Boston

And so it is with this in mind that I shall let my fingers flutter and see our subject cross the channel and the pond (although to be fair, John Singer Sargent (JSS) didn’t make it to the States till he was 20 years old, when he established citizenship). Both his parents were American, his father was a Dr in Philadelphia; 2 years prior to John’s birth his older sister died. This caused his mother, Mary Singer, to breakdown, and as a result his parents set sail for Europe, never returning. JSS was born in Florence, though he was raised with seasonal visits across Europe. If you’re born and raised “abroad” are you an expat – or is it simply “abroad” for your parents? For that matter, if you grow up on the road are you an expat?

Wyndam Sisters
Wyndam Sisters, 1899, Met, NYC

Putting questions of Sargent’s identity aside, he was without a doubt a great painter whose portraits created an enduring image of society of the Edwardian age, often focusing on ladies in their brocaded satin gowns. Though he studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts and under the fashionable society portraitist Carolus-Duran, the heavy spell of JSS’s idol, Velazquez, is apparent in most of his works. The haunting interior of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882, at Boston’s MFA) has distilled light and delicately adjusted forms which pays tribute to Velazquez’s Las Meninas. Northern masters to influence Sargent were Frans Hals, with his quick stroke and light touch, and of course Anthony Van Dyck with his rich textures and fabrics.

El Jaleo, Isabella Stewart Gardner
El Jaleo, 1882, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Boston

Sargent’s best known work, and certainly his own favorite was the portrait of Madame X, the famous Parisian beauty. A fellow American expat, Madame Pierre Gautreau was a Louisiana Belle married to a Parisian banker. Sargent did a gazillion studies of her, spending a good amount of time at her country house in Brittany trying to get his studies right. A nervous and, I get the idea, self-important woman, Madame Gautreau never sat for long, but Sargent was the only portraitist of many who’d been granted the permission to paint her – no doubt due in part to being a compatriot – and he was dead-bent on capturing her marvelously.

Madame X, 1884 The Met
Madame X, 1884, The Met, NYC

When he finally did capture her, Sargent entered Madame X‘s soignée portrait in the Salon of 1884 and much to his despair was totally panned. Critics dismissed it as near pornography, complaining of the revealing décolleté black dress, all that skin and her provocative pose. One of the straps of her dress in the first version was off her shoulder! Scandalous! Discouraged by his Parisian failure he fled to London, welcomed by his good friend Henry James. London became his permanent home, but Sargent had many a client in the States, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and perhaps most importantly Isabella Stewart Gardner (who was one of his most loyal and forceful patrons).

Lingering on a light summary of Sargent’s life has been fun, but what to say of THATd’Or? Why have you been reading this? You must want some reward, other than the pleasant visit of seeing his quick and talented stroke, no? Well here’s the give-away: a second prize will go to the team who writes the best limerick which includes elements of the story of John Singer Sargent’s Carmencita, which our hunters will be seeking out at the Musée d’Orsay on Thursday night.

Carmencita, 1890
Carmencita, 1890, Musée d’Orsay

* Although Rembrandt Peale (1778 – 1860) is pretty damned good as well!
Wine, Women and a Bed
30 juin 2013
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul

Wine, Women and a Bed

Flag of France
So I’m just putting the finishing touches on a new Public THATLou; “All Things Gaul, for those who have the Gall” shall debut on, yep, you guessed it: Bastille Day! The Louvre is free on 14 juillet, yet I’m banking on the fact that most people are going to be watching the military parade on the Champs-Elysées or over at Place de la Bastille, out and about in the sun. Not holed up in a dusty old museum. Moreover, I don’t think a lot of people realize the museum’s free, so it won’t be as crowded as the first Sunday of the month, when the crowds can get a bit suffocating.

It’s the first Public THATLou we’ll have since the Easter Hunt and the last till the 1 November Toussaint “Death Hunt”, so don’t miss your chance to win the glory of France, a tremendously valuable All things Gaul THATLou prize (got at the Louvre gift shop, so I guess “tremendously valuable” might be called by some a tourist trinket).  I’m pleased as punch that Mary Kay, of the wonderful blog Out and About in Paris, has signed her family up and will go on her second hunt.

As for designing the hunt, All Things Gaul has been more a process of elimination than anything, since the Louvre is of course abounding in French-related treasure. Though the hunt will theoretically get our clever hunters to all floors of all three wings of the museum, I’ve tried to make it easier to strategize in concentrated areas.
Napoleanic Battle Map
taken from Mr Shellshear.wikispaces.com

It was hard to discard some wings. I considered including Egyptian works, since the French were the first Europeans in Egypt with Napoléon’s 1798 Egyptian Campaign, when the cocky 29 year old general wanted to sever England’s India route (and supremacy over the Mediterranean) by attacking Egypt. The campaign was a failure (Nelson captured Nappy’s enormous fleet at the Battle of the Nile off of Alexandria at the bay of Aboukir (so why, I wonder, do the French have a long narrow street crossing the 2nd Arrt named Aboukir?). Nappy had to leave Egypt to his man Kléber (who was assassinated in Cairo by a Syrian student in 1800) in order to try to escape land-bound up toward Syria). However, it was a fascinating failure, because Napoléon brought 160 scholars, scientists, engineers, naturalists, artists, (including Denon, for whom one of the Louvre’s three wings is named) to scrutinize Egypt. Thanks to this Egyptology was born, and a 23-volume “Description of Egypt” was published from 1808 – 1829. The size alone of the Louvre’s Egyptian collection (2 floors of Sully, nearly half of the wing!) attests to their world-famous focus on Egyptology.
Views of Qait Bey Fortress and the Diamant Rock
Description de l’Egypte, Etat Moderne, Plate 87, Views of Qait Bey Fortress and the Diamant Rock, drawn c.1798, pub in the Panckoucke edition of 1821-9 (wikipedia.com) 


But I decided to exclude the Egyptians from All things Gaul and sprinkle it nearly exclusively on pieces by Frenchmen or of Frenchmen. We have Kings and Leaders, lots of lovely (naked) ladies, a Sevres wine cooler, a bed (What’s more All things Gaul than wine, women and a bed?).

There are a few exceptions, the Mona Lisa being one. She may not be by a Frenchman (though da Vinci did work for a French king and did die in Amboise, as written about in the Leonardo’s Lover! post), but thanks to her absurd popularity she’s come to represent Paris or France just as much as the Eiffel Tower. When 60% of one’s market relies on tourism and 80% of 8 million visitors a year go to the Louvre just to see her (so sad) then I think it’s fair to put her in an All Things Gaul hunt.

Raft of Medusa in the Louvre
The Raft of Medusa in the Louvre, by theplagiarists.com

Stay posted for the typical give away clue — and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if the Géricault Raft of Medusa bonus question which appeared for our recent hunt for an Int’l law firm appears within this All Things Gaul hunt as well!
THATLou @ #MuseumCo
26 janvier 2015
  • Museum Musings

THATLou @ #MuseumCo

Museum Conference - Paris January
@MarDixon @DianeDrubay and @Sree speaking at Museum Conference – Paris, Jan 2015

A lightning bolt of museum social media energy struck Paris last week at the 20th Museum Conference: 352 tweeters reached an audience of 1.8 million in 2 days. Attending it has jumpstarted my return from blogging-lassitude & merits at least 3 Museum Musing posts on the THATLou blog. Two posts to follow:

·         Mar Dixon, the Queen of Hashtagging, is an inspiration to ALL (not just those in museums, not just those in social media, but to ALL because Mar is the lynchpin – internationally – of democratizing art and museums; she’s fighting the good fight for small & medium-sized museums and de-snob-ifying the art world). Participating in her MuseumCamp set my mind (& to do list) on fire.
·         Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer of The Met, former Professor & Dean at Columbia J-School (21 years), an avid & generous favoriter with 61K followers on Twitter, will be another subject, to at least gloss over the wealth of information he provided on the cross-section of The Met and Social Media tips. After all, I have become a #SreeGroupie with l’Etudiant’s Helene, the Louvre’s Elise and the US Embassy’s Kim (who’s been a #SreeGroupie since 1994 when she was his student at Columbia J-School) to name a few, so it’d be odd if I didn’t devote a post to The Man Named Sree.  

But before touching on those gurus here are some tidbits on an array of museums that contributed to Diane Drubay’s 20th Museum Conference out at Porte de Versailles last week. Museums like the Tate (Claire Eva and Elena Villaespesa), the V&A (Julie Chan), Palais de Tokyo (Gaelle de Medeiros) and the Van Gogh Museum (David van Zeggeren) sent speakers (just to list a few).
Museum Conference Paris January
As for some Museum Musings:

·         Claire Eva, Communications head of the Tate, has a tricky job of branding 4 different locations and types of collections. The Tate wants to “Democratise Access to Art” whilst “Provoking a Dialogue”. This isn’t just a message on a banner: Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, actually read 950 staff letters (on a very long flight) of Tate feedback. You can’t get more democratic than actually listening to the feedback of BOTH the check-out chick as well as the PhD curator. Just brilliant. Taking art off the pedestal. Claire, who goes by @OtterClaire on Twitter, was both succinct in her presentation and very generous and accessible with her time thereafter.
·         The V&A‘s Julie Chan, spoke on partnerships (for instance the V&A has a line of shoes partnered up with Clark’s or a limited edition of magazine covers with Harper’s Bazaar for sale) & in the age of funding cuts she highlighted the importance of museum stores. The V&A made 2 million pounds last year and has a staff of 85 (just the retail dept!); their goal is to be seen independently from the museum (she cited the MoMA, whose design store is across the street from the actual museum on 53rd St in NY). As a social media tip, Pinterest is a better platform to monetize, Instagram is better for engagement.
·         David van Zeggeren, of the Van Gogh Museum said that a good museum website should be able to answer 99% of all questions asked by visitors to the museum. Makes sense. Their quest for accessibility has come in the form of presenting Van Gogh as “Vincent”.
·         Palais de Tokyo dubs itself an “Anti-Museum”. Development head, Gaëlle de Medeiros said they were resistant to the word “branding”, although they are clearly open to partnerships having hired the Boston Group to analyze their strategy. Their economic model is 60% private, 40% public; with this in mind they host all 4 fashion weeks & are popular on social media thanks to fashionistas. They’d like to be thought of a “Lifestyle Place” she said, with YoYo (their nightclub), Madame et Monsieur (2 cinema rooms), a café, resto & exhibition space within their 22,000 m². I hadn’t known that Quai de NY used to be called Quai de Tokyo before WWII, thus their name.  
hashtracks #museumco
Sree’s #hashtracking on #MuseumCo — which I mis-tagged as #Museum_Co throughout both days! Some help I am…

Soon to come: two more THATLou Museum Musing posts concerning The Met’s Sree (did you know The Met has a digital department of 70 people? Their video series iPad App is called 82nd and 5th, Eighty Seconds for the museum’s address. Clever things!) and #MuseumSelfie brainchild Mar Dixon (the 5th most influential person museumer — and yes that means that one very energetic lady is more influential than most major museums!). Not shabby!

** Papers like The Guardian (Mar Dixon, Nicholas Serota), New York Times (Sree) and various other sites are not credited but are provided via hyperlink

*** And I can’t call them #SreeGroupies without having asked their permission, but was so pleased that the following were among Sree’s last-minute audience at l’Express’s @educpros: Mary Kay of Out and About in Paris, Elodie of Elodie’s Paris (& the tourist office), Bryan of Where is Bryan? (& la Sorbonne), Colleen of Colleen’s Paris, Anne of Pret-a-Voyager, Damien of the US Embassy, Catherine of France24 and Krishna of K_Puro.

**** After a bout of Museum & Social Media postings I intend to run a weekly THATKid Tuesday… opposed to slipping back into my blogging lethargy!
Khan Academy's Sal Khan
Khan Academy democratizing education

·         Continuing to democratize art, The Met has partnered Sal Khan, by contributing the content of 82nd & 5th to the Khan Academy, a free on-line education resource. When Bill Gates met Khan and heard of what he was doing he gave him 2 million on the spot, likewise Carlos Slim is funding the translation of Khan Academy’s entirely democratic education
·         Sree was big on having a story to tell – here’s my fave of his: Lucy Redoglia started a twitter acct named @MetEveryday where she posted a photo of the museum everyday, eventually earning her a job as one of two social media strategists there. Social Media is changing the landscape of so many domains, including getting great jobs.
·         With Lucy’s generous approval I’m going to try to post a #LouvreEveryday photo on my Google+ in tribute to her clever @MetEveryday
·         ABC = Always Be Connecting, Always be Charging (battery), Always be Collecting (photos)
·         An addition to this was the common sense that you must connect before you need something from someone (so to avoid removing the K before you have to ASK (my most un-snappy paraphrasing)
·         Last and most important Sree adage “Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on Social Media… Until you make a mistake
We’re going to New York soon and I look forward to taking an #EmptyMet tour with Sree before the museum doors open. And hopefully from NY I can also learn more about the Everhard Jabach family (the Met just bought a Le Brun family portrait and European Paintings curator, Keith Christiansen is blogging about its restoration)

Sree Social Media Success Formula
Sree-Recommended Apps (my faves – he recommended a lot more):

·         EverNote scans business cards and see ALL internet presence (accidentally my Nom de Plume was outted – although I’ve written about being the more stuffy Charlotte Louise with a Lou in Paris interview.
·         IFTTT (IF This Then That – to program recipes, for example to get around the fact that IG photos don’t post on Twitter (thanks to FB)
·         BananaTag tracks your emails (to see which attachments your boss opens)
Sree + Daisy Selfie
Not at a museum, but taken on Mar Dixon’s #MuseumSelfie day

Next week I’ll conclude this Museum + Social Media trilogy with a quick profile of the Queen of DEMOCRATISING ART, Mar Dixon.. The brainchild behind #AskACurator Day, Museum Camp & a million other inventive, engaging things. Then I’ll resume with a weekly THATKid Tuesday post, running the gambit from much needed Art History vocab to Things to do with Kids in Paris before and after your Louvre Treasure Hunt.
THATLou @ #SreeParis
02 février 2015
  • Museum Musings

THATLou @ #SreeParis

To continue on the THATLou @ #MuseumCo post addressing Museums, Social Media & DEMOCRATISING ART, today I’m imparting some Sree Sreenivasan-wisdom, passed along at a recent workshop.
Sree Sreenivasan

In line with being accessible, Sree glossed over his bio (21 yrs teaching at Columbia Journalism School before recently becoming the Met’s Chief Digital Officer — a post created for him & with a staff of 70 (which floored me), American immigrant, father of twins) before jumping into the grit of his 2.5 hour talk. He prodded us to network among ourselves as well as encouraging us to reach out from the room to tweet strangers (his wife Roopa, Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times, Thomas Campbell director of The Met, to name a few).

The workshop – hosted last-minute by Helene Allaire of l’Etudiant – consisted of Museumers (The Louvres Nick Melissano & Elise Maillard, Buzzeum’s Diane Drubay, the Carnavelet & Palais du Tokyo), State Department Americans (US Embassy’s Kim Baker Sassi (a #SreeGroupie since 1995) & Damien Bertrand), Paris Tourist Board trendsetter Elodie Berta (Elodie’s Paris), journalists (France24’s Catherine Viette), academics (La Sorbonne’s Bryan Pirolli) & bloggers (Out and About in Paris, Colleen’s Paris, Pret-A-Voyager).

Metropolitan Museum of Art webpage
Sree said the Met needs to improve its Weibo numbers, for a Chinese social media presence

Sree embodied his message by being a succinct, accessible story-teller. My class notes:

·         The workshop was FREE as Sree capped in his tweet announcing it. He pointed out that on your 140 character tweets CAP what’s catchy.
·         Someone in the audience grumbled about how we were doing his work by hashtagging #SreeParis to all these people he was getting us to network with. Sree gently rebutted that you get what you pay for, reinforcing his FREE point. Loved it.
·         Influence is More Important than Numbers (Mar Dixon – the fantabulous subject of the last post in this trilogy – is an example: she’s the 5th most influential museumer — one lady is more influential than the Prado, V&A, National Gallery (London & DC), Smithsonian, Guggenheim, etc)
·         Apparently the hardest part of creating the Met’s App was (cleverly named 82nd & 5th, their address, for 80 seconds) getting their approval to put the “Start Here” button on the painting of George Washington. Cleverly that “Start Here” badge has a huge sticker on the Grand Hall lobby floor. The App doesn’t include the whole museum, but just covers 100 objects with curators speaking for a record 2-minutes (such brevity’s tricky for curators).
British Museum THATMuse!
25 août 2015
  • Museum Musings,
  • Misc,
  • THATBrit – Fun & Games

British Museum THATMuse!

Norman Foster Great Hall in the British Museum
The sky’s the limit! Looking up at the British Museum’s Norman Foster Great Hall Big News!

THATLou is expanding to London museums in 2016, starting with the British Museum, under the name THATMuse, which stands for “Treasure Hunt at the Museum”

For our soft launch, the British Museum is hosting THATMuse focusing on Fun & Games in Museums. We’re honored that the BM is featuring “The Art of Play: A Treasure Hunt Challenge” as part of their Friday night BM/PMs series, from 6:15-8:15 pm on Friday 11 September 2015. Registration is through the British Museum website, for 5£.

This soft-launch of THATMuse is open to the general public, come one, come all to scout out Fun & Games at the venerable British Museum! As with all of our public hunts, you’re welcomed to sign up without a partner (& will be placed in a team of 4) or as a team through the above link.

RULES are straight-forward: to find as many pieces of treasure within the given amount of time, photographing your team in front of each treasure as proof that you’ve found it (& stuck together as a team!). We’ll tally scores over a drink in the BM’s Clore Education Center before the prize giving ceremony!

TOOLS are few: a keen sense of curiosity, freshly charged batteries and comfy shoes!

In anticipation I’ll be posting photos of the British Museum and its surrounding Bloomsbury neighborhood on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as possibly dropping some THATMuse hints, so feel free to connect on any of the platforms.

British Museum Ceiling
Apparently there are 3,320 panes of glass in this glorious ceiling, as I learned in Yannick Pucci’s (of London Unravelled) BM Highlights tour!

Our handle is:

@DaisydePlume

on all social media where I post silliness such as the photos in this post, including this one of me trying to steal a kiss from Storsh on his favorite BM Lion
Daisy and Storsh at the British Museum Lion
Announcing All Things Gaul!
09 juillet 2016
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • Misc

Announcing All Things Gaul!

This year’s version of All Things Gaul (our public THATLou celebrating France’s national day, le 14 juillet) includes the recently opened  Arts et Deco departments in the Pavillon de l’Horloge. I’ve specifically made it so that all of the treasures in this section of the Sully wing are facing the loveliest courtyard I know of, the Cour Carrée. And just in case hunters are too consumed in fine French faience and tapestries from Gobelin to notice this exquisite view, I’ve stuck in a bonus question requesting a tourist-shot of it as it is sublime. As with all our themes, this hunt has to have a chief piece. And it’s that piece that I’ll showcase on the blog before our hunt. If there’s a King of the hunt (It does give me a chuckle to have a royal for the very theme that’s celebrating Bastille Day), perhaps I should nominate a Queen of the Hunt, too?  A lynch pin to other pieces of treasure, who can provide some juicy fodder for bonus questions about Paris, the Louvre, and well, All Things Gaul… Besides, of course, the hints I’ve been dropping here!

But this public hunt is also particularly close to me. It’s the first time I’ll be “presenting” (so French) the enormously capable lady who will be taking the helm of all of our French operations. My family and I have chosen the very smartest time to move to London (when they don’t want us!) to finally expand our treasure hunting wings to the British Museum (with the creation of THATBrit, to fall under the unifying umbrella of THATMuse! Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty says we have 2 years before the UK leaves the EU, we’ll see if we can do it in that time…).

And with this move, it means that I am leaving my baby, this luddique (“playful” in French, but also you see that root of ludicrous, no?) museum romp of a company, to Miss Annie Renn. Annie has been a THATLou Rep on and off since May 2015 and in this most recent stretch these past few months has weathered the changes of the Louvre wonderfully (they’ve changed their maps, somehow forgetting to include room numbers! The guards are furious). So after Miss Renn returns home to England to get married at the beginning of September, she (with hubby in tow, bien sur!) shall return to Paris to take the helm of THATLou, THATd’Or and THATRue.  Here’s a host-hunting shot of Annie describing the rules to Henry, an adoring hunter who picked up bonus points impersonating Michelangelo’s Dying Slave in contrapposto, thanks to Annie’s instructions.
Annie describing the THATLou rules to a little boy
THATRue Review
30 novembre -1
  • Misc,
  • THATRue

THATRue Review


Group shot in front of Le Senat by Lindsey Kent, of Pictours Paris


The THATRue launch was an overall blast and the best 2-year THATLou Birthday Bash I could’ve hoped for. All of our adrenaline was pumped and spirits were bubbling by the time we regrouped for a drink near St Michel. While our blogging cohorts were swapping silliness from the hunt co-hosts Kasia Dietz, of Kasia Dietz Bags, Forest Collins, of The Chamber, and I were feverishly grading their hunts and tallying social media points.


Co-hosts Forest Collins and Kasia Dietz


Unfortunately, apart from naming participating Social Media big wigs, I didn’t get to write much about it prior to the event. Before listing hilarious team names, hunters and scores (and posting tons of photos), I’ll include some background that I should’ve made time for before THAT’s big expansion. And as I’m so behind, the day’s event has already been written about in these lovely places:

The Huffington Post

Paris Weekender

Patricia Parisienne

Love in the City of Lights

Danielle Abroad



photo credit, The Chamber

BACKGROUND

At the end of last year my husband and I worked feverishly, going á l’attaque on the labyrinthine streets of the Latin Quarter. We had a tall order in the form of getting 110 HS students (here from Aurora, Illinois to give a concert at La Madeleine) from Jardin du Luxembourg to Fontaine St Michel within one and a half hours. I’d known that sooner or later we’d need to expand THAT to the streets, from frequent requests by tourists participating in either THATLou or THATd’Or, but when that commission came through it got us well, off of the couch and onto the Rues of the Left Bank!


Philippe Auguste’s old walls of Paris, photo by Melanie Vaz of Gateaux Mama


With so many kids, and within such a small, rich swath of land (to walk it direct is under 2 KM or about 20 minutes) it was tricky to avoid having them overlap. We solved this by tripling our work, essentially, building three distinct hunts: one which wound its way over (and through) St Sulpice, another central hunt passing Cluny and La Sorbonne, and the third, longest one snaking its way around the Pantheon and past remnants of Philippe-Auguste’s medieval walls of Paris (at another junction from the above photo).


GeeParee22’s photo as Geni and Carina were joining us


I’m an only child, and this (sometimes unfortunate) fact is supremely evident in pretty much everything I do or have done (from the sports I chose in school – squash, skiing, ballet – to the mentality of games I prefer – chess and backgammon, opposed to charades, bridge or Pictionary, etc). The irony that I’ve built a whole company around the principle of collaborative effort and team-building is not lost on me. And the fact that el Argentino (my beloved) and I were capable of working so intensely together, and with such great results (those kids from Aurora hugged each other and us when they won their dinky Eiffel tower keychain prizes, they were so happy it tickled me pink) still amazes me.



photo by Abby Gordon of Paris Weekender, of Abigail and Alex of Set in Paris — posing as Romulus + the Wolf


Originally I was calling it THATLat, but clever Kasia pointed out that the Latin Quarter probably wasn’t going to be the only Street hunt we made. And so THATRue was born — which to an Anglo ear rhymes with THATLou (this very fact is incomprehensible to any Frenchman, who typically dismisses any lack of distinction between an OU and a U or UE as severely incompetent).


Photo credit: The Chamber

For the launch we used two of the three hunts (St Sulpice and Cluny), each hunt requesting some Social Media silliness requiring teams to interact with French culture, from singing Serge Gainsbourg to reciting – and personifying – Rimbaud’s poem Le Bateau Ivre (Drunken Boat), the whole poem of which is written on rue Ferou.  Frustratingly I can’t figure out how to upload videos onto this blog – had hoped to be able to post all of the really adorable Drunken Boat personifications, but alas, hunters’ dignity will remain intact thanks entirely to my computer ineptitude!


Winning Team 3 Musketeerettes: Elodie Berta, Danielle Alvarez, Faye Bullock, photo by The Chamber


The CLUNY Hunt

Winners of the enormously handsome Kasia Dietz hand-designed THATRue bag

(Scored out of 350)

Amici Miei (who in terms of points should have won, but were disqualified as they were cohosts. Nonetheless an enormous congratulations to their impressive 320 points, done in 1 hour and 30 minutes)

Kasia Dietz, Her Italian, and Erica Berman of HiP (Haven in Paris) Paris Wine Nymphs (the Winners of the Cluny Hunt, with 290 points in 1 hour and 24 minutes)

–        Abby Gordon of Paris Weekender, and Abigail de Bruyne & Alex of the Movie tours Set in Paris
The Drunk Unicorns (A close 2nd Place, with 290 points in 1 hour and 37 minutes)

–        Amy Feezor of M-Dashing, Aurelien Michaud of Urba Media, and Carina Okula of Carina Okula Photography Loonies Clunies (280 points in 1 hour and twenty two minutes

–        Geni of GeeParee22, Jacalyn of Après New York, Jennifer of Jennyphoria
WinePats (270 points in 1 hour and 17 minutes)

–        Thierry Givone who gives great Wine Tasting in Paris on a peniche, Tricia Rosas of Patricia Parisienne, Victoria Pickering of VictoriaInParis.



Forest photographing our feverish grading

SULPICE HUNT

Winners of 3 months trial membership to The Chamber and a lovely Gin n Tonic gift bag with stylish satchel

(Scored out of 300)

Danielle Alvarez of Danielle AbroadElodie Berta of the Paris Tourist Board, Faye Bullock, of Farfelue Gauche Girls (2nd Place St Sulpice Winners with 270 points in 1 hour and 14 minutes)

–        Lauren Lou Bate of Folies du Bonheur, Lilian Lau of Lil & Destinations, Lindsey Kent of Pictours Paris 3 Muskateers (270 points in 1 hour and 17 mins, identical score and time as next team – bizarre!)

–        Noelie Viallet a Parisian journalist, Samantha Tucker and Sasha Romary, of Savoir Faire Paris and Paris Up Close and Personal Sorta Blondes (270 points in 1 hour and 17 mins, identical to the last team)

–        Mary Fox of Fox in Paris, Natasha Barr of Girls’ Guide to Paris, and Nichole Robertson of Obvious State Where is Mary Kay? (The only team who was at the disadvantage of having only two hunters)

–        Lisa Michaud of Ella Coquine and Lou Binns of LouLou in Paris La Bon Bourbonbons (Co-Hosting team, these clever things won the Social Media Prize by more than double others)

–        Forest Collins of The Chamber52 Martinis, Melanie Vaz of Gateaux Mama, Thibault Devillers of The Chamber

THATRue Launch
30 novembre -1
  • THATRue

THATRue Launch

Containing my excitement over the THATRue Launch is inconceivable! Although the two treasure hunts aren’t entirely finished, I’ve had a ball adding in silly requests to personify fire or sway like a drunken boat, etc. I just hope everyone remembers that this weekend there’s a time change.

As some of you remember, I launched THATLou with the help of co-hosts Kasia Dietz and Forest Collins in March 2012, pitting teams of bloggers against each other on the race to find treasure at the Louvre. In the same vein, Kasia and Forest have generously lent their time and donated the game prizes to celebrate the company’s 2-year birthday with this THAT expansion to the streets of the Latin Quarter. Meant as a supplement and self-guided hunt on the Rues of Paris, you can see more on THATRue here.  For now I’ll leave you with a list of our fine hunters (team order will be alphabetically by first name, not by blog name):

Après New York

Carina Okula

Ella Coquine

Farfelue

Folies du Bonheur

Fox in Paris

Danielle Abroad


Gateau Mama

Girls’ Guide to Paris

GinParis

HIP Paris

Jennyphoria

The Kale Project

Lil & Destinations

Lost in Cheeseland

LouLou in Paris

Love in the City of Lights

M-Dashing

Obvious State

Out and About in Paris

Paris Info (Tourist Board)

Paris-NewYork.tv

Paris Up Close & Personal

Paris Weekender

Patricia Parisienne

Pictours Paris

Set in Paris

Sugar Daze

Totally Frenched Out

Victoria in Paris

Wine Tasting in Paris

Wendy Smith Photography
THATd'Or Rules & Tools
15 novembre 2016
  • Hunt Booking Info

THATd'Or Rules & Tools

THATd’Or was created to provide both an overview & interactive visit to the world’s greatest collection of Impressionist paintings (whilst pumping art-adrenalin!). When your hunt is over you’ll regroup, toddle to one of the museum cafés and open the all-important sealed envelope containing your answer sheet. Once your tootsies are rested and score tallied, our HOPE is that you’ll want to return to the galleries together, to see the art in a leisurely manner (kids on separate teams may want to show off what they found). The Musée d’Orsay gives very little information in its ID tags, so if you return with hunt in hand, you can linger on your treasures (& those gems between treasures). Another goal is to try to sprinkle in French trivia/history on Paris sites so that when your family is out on the town connections to these Impressionist masters might be made to various important landmarks. The general rules are quite simple, each team must prove they’ve seen their treasure by photographing themselves (one or more team members – the more the merrier!) in front of the artworks. The point is to have seen as many of the treasures as possible within the given time & get an overview of the former railway station. Some bonus questions are craftily embedded in the text (a carrot to read every word!). The answers to all the knowledge-based bonus questions can be found within the treasure text – it’s just a matter of your team playing to its strengths (who reads fine print with hawk-eyes, who excels with maps/navigation, who’s most visually oriented? The first two qualities are often found in the same person and children are generally stealthy ‘scanners’ once they see the image they’re sussing out).

Please note that no FLASH photography is allowed in the museum - so be sure to turn off the flash on your phone/camera before dashing off on your hunt!

RULES

1)    Please use only one phone/camera per team - the photographer can change, but one camera / phone makes score-tallying easier.  

2)    Teams must stay together at all times and must not run: If you are seen more than 3 meters apart you will lose 10 points per foot you’re found apart (& yes, there was just a switch from meters to feet… you don’t want to learn conversion the hard way, stick together!)  

3)    No external help… You’re ousted for asking a guard or fellow visitor directions! Likewise, no GPS, no internet nor anything apart from the hunt & official Musée d’Orsay map (hardcopy)  

4)    Must meet back at Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty (all time is synchronized by the large gilded clock overlooking the main hall, easily seen from most of the museum) at the precise pre-arranged end time. Each minute late merits 2 negative points - per minute! – but remember, no running Those who are 10 minutes late are disqualified (sometimes there are strategic reasons for being late, but be careful!).

TOOLS & TIMING

Comfortable shoes, freshly charged batteries in your camera/phone & a keen sense of curiosity! We provide the THATd’Or hunt, pencils + map of the Musée d’Orsay.

The Hunt lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if you opt for this), but we need a minimum of 20 minutes prior to hunting time for a brief history of the museum, to review rules, distribute hunts, pencils + highlighted maps per team & to allow teams to strategise. When booking, you can opt for “express lane” tickets (22€/adult, kids under 18 enter free)
J'adore THATd'Or
31 janvier 2017
  • THATd’Or

J'adore THATd'Or

THATd'Or was commissioned by the AFMO. My original goal had been to make the hunt exclusively about trains + motion. What could be more suitable than to tip one’s treasure-hunt hat to the history of this gorgeous building? As I’m sure you all know, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station, built in only 2 years and unveiled on 14 July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. Until 1939 the Gare d’Orsay covered the southwestern French lines (thereafter it served the suburbs as the length of the building (138 meters) was too short for the longer trains which appeared during the electrification of trains). During the war it was where prisoners’ mail was dispatched. And before Mitterand unveiled it as a museum in 1986, it was the temporary home to auctioneers (while Druout was being built) as well as being the set for Kafka’s The Trial, by Orson Welles (1962). It’s clearly had several lives, but the Musée d’Orsay celebrates its train station roots beautifully and seemlessly.

Grand Palais Finale
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Grand Palais Finale

This is the third of a three-part series about the Grand Palais. Written and photographed by Daisy de Plume.



FROM BEES TO FOOD (and back to design)

The most recent addition to the Grand Palais is its fashionista restaurant, the Mini Palais. Opened in the fall of 2010, it has clean minimalist lines, and like its larger counterpart (the unsurpassable Nave of the Grand Palais), is fully flooded in light despite the grey of Paris winter skies. The outstanding setting is between the Nave and the Colonnade — between the Palace’s metal structure and its stone façade. Warmer seasons afford a fittingly magnificent setting on the balcony, with views of the Alexandre III Bridge.

Upon entering the restaurant, one passes massive bronze doors of the Alexandre III Rotunda. They don’t fail to impress, nor do the delicately restored mosaics lining the floor. Redesigned by architects Gilles & Boissier, their aim was to resemble an artist’s workshop, whilst revealing the mammoth metal structures painted in the Grand Palais’s trademark mignonette green.

Eric Frechon, the restaurant’s consultant chef who holds three Michelin stars, has come up with an innovative menu including Clafoutis aux Cepes de Correze, Escargots dans leur Tomate cerise gratins au beurre d’Amande and Pluma de Cochon au Tandoori, Confit d’Oignon, Pommes Paille. Open from noon to midnight (2 AM on weekends), the Mini-Palais continues to cause a stir across Paris.

Reservations (01 42 56 42 42) are strongly suggested, unless you’re stopping in for a scrumptious dessert between lunch and dinner. Entrance: Avenue Winston-Churchill, Pont Alexandre-III 75008 (entrance via the Alexandre III Rotunda). Metro: Champs-Elysees Clemenceau / valet parking service is also provided. 



As promised in the first of this 3-part series, here is a list of WOW Factor Facts taken from the


The Grand Palais was built in just 3 years, from 1897 to 1900
  • Workforce on the construction site in 1900 at its peak: 1,500
  • The flag flown over the building measures 4 x 6 m
  • Facade perimeter: 1 km
  • Total metal weight for the entire Grand Palais: 8,500 metric tons
  • Weight of steel in the Nave: 6,000 metric tons
  • Weight of the “mignonette green” paint inside the Nave: 60 metric tons
  • Total stone weight: 200,000 metric tons
  • Working area: 72,000 m2
  • Nave floor space: 13 500 m2
  • Nave length: 200 m
  • Height: 45 m under the dome
This is the second of a three-part series about the Grand Palais, a loose tip of the hat to Walter Benjamin. All photos in this series are taken by Daisy de Plume.



The Grand Palais is divided into three distinct areas: The Nave (which has currently been taken over by French artist Daniel Buren – the show’s running till 21 June 2012), the Galeries Nationales (“Animal Beauty” is the exhibition including works from Breughel to Jeff Koons, da Vinci to Matisse. This show is running till 16 July 2012 – 11 euro admission) and the Palais de la Découverte (Science Museum – Hair and Science is their current exhibition, till 26 August 2012 – 7 euro admission). A separate gallery, known as the “Southeast Gallery” has the first Helmut Newton retrospective in France since he died in 2004.

All of these tenants – and their exhibits – deserve articles unto themselves, of course. However, I haven’t exhausted the Grand Palais tenant list yet, which is what I aim to cover herewith. Some GP occupants don’t fit into the sparkling cultural cosmos of Paris in quite the same way. 



For instance, who’s above and below? As is commonly the case in France, we have some unlikely bedmates. In the basement the police HQ of the 8th Arrondissement has what must be a sprawling spread. And then if we toddle all the way up to the roof (oh, say 45 meters / 147 feet up) the most unlikely guests pay the most delicious rent: Two queen bees have their hives up there, in the pure air above the Champs-Elysees. I run treasure hunts at the Louvre for an occupation, but I have to say these bees are far more interesting that the short-term renters like Breughel and Matisse, Koons and Newton.



In May 2009 a local beekeeper, Nicolas Géant, set up shop on both the roofs of the Grand Palais and Garnier’s Opera House, adding to a surprising Parisian reputation as an urban jungle. Floral honey, which is made from pollen and nectar taken from a 3-km perimeter – read the Champs-Elysees’ many small flowers, lime trees, chestnuts and lavendars, the tree-lined Seine, perhaps a jaunt over to Invalide – is aptly labeled “Grand Palais Honey”.

Since then, beehives have been set up on the roof of the ultra-modern Opera Bastille and in the Luxembourg Gardens, among other Parisian landmarks. “In Paris, each beehive produces a minimum of 50 to 60 kilograms (110 to 130 pounds) of honey per harvest, and the death rate of the colonies is 3 to 5 percent,” said Henri Clement, president of the National Union of French Beekeepers, “But in the countryside (where flowers have more pesticides), one beehive only gives you 10 to 20 kilograms (about 20 to 40 pounds) of honey, and the death rate is 30 to 40 percent. It is a sign of alarm.

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I’ve posted other of these snaps on Pinterest (my name there, surprisingly, is THATlou). 
Le Grand Palais
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Le Grand Palais

This is the first part of a three-part series about the Grand Palais, in a loose tribute to Walter Benjamin.



With an iron, steel and glass barrel-vaulted roof running almost 240 meters (755 feet) long, Paris’s Grand Palais was the last of the large transparent structures inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. Necessary for large gatherings of people before the age of electricity fully took off, every major city seemed to have a Crystal Palace, caused of course by a Universal Exhibition to boost city coffers. New York built its Crystal Palace in 1853 where Bryant Park now sits (ironically the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue is the former site of the city’s reservoir – not enough water to put out the Crystal Palace’s 1856 fire, I guess). Hailed as a masterpiece, NY’s Crystal Palace had a dome 100 feet (30 meters) in diameter (and hosted the largest crocodile ever caught). 50 years of engineering strides allowed for a dome twice that size capping the Grand Palais (70 meters in diameter). To give a more tangible comparison of this spatially vast behemoth, Vanderbilt Hall’s ceiling in NY’s Grand Central Station is a dwarfing 40 feet (12 meters); The Grand Palais’s ceiling height is more than 100 feet taller – soaring up to 45 meters (147 feet). I’ll leave a laundry list of colossal figures in the 3rd part of this 3-part series, but suffice it to say: finally Swift’s adjective ‘Brobdingnag’ is applicable! 



The main space was originally connected to the other parts of the palace along an east-west axis by a grand staircase in a style combining Classical and Art Nouveau, but the interior layout has since been somewhat modified. The architectural competition was fierce and controversial, and ultimately resulted in the contract being awarded to a group of four architects, Henri Deglane, Albert LouvetAlbert Thomas and Charles Girault, each with a separate area of responsibility. The builders tried to compensate for a drop in the water table and a shift to the ground by supporting posts down to firmer soil. These measures, however, were only partially successful.  Additional problems due to the construction of the building itself revealed themselves over the past century. Differential rates of expansion and contraction between cast iron and steel members, for example, allowed for water to enter, leading to corrosion and further weakening. When finally one of the glass ceiling panels fell in 1993, the main space had to be closed for restoration work (just a small sign, I guess). Renovation work continued for 14 years, finally the Grand Palais was reopened in 2007. 



I’ve posted other of these snaps on Pinterest (my name there, surprisingly, is THATlou).
Consulate Comparisons- Process
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Consulate Comparisons- Process



STORSH at the Spanish Consulate (the mess behind him will feature later in the series)


This is the 2nd of a 4-part series comparing the US and Spanish Consulates in Paris. In February 2011, when STORSH was 5 weeks old, El Argentino (half Spanish), S and I went to both consulates to apply for his two citizenship / passports. It was an eventful day. 

9 February 2011

This week STORSH became a citizen to both the US & Spain! In one day the three of us covered both the US and Spanish consulates, metro-ing it to Place de la Concorde, then walking for some fresh air (read: a refill of patience) up to the Spanish consulate in the 17th, and then pooped and fulfilled metro-ing it home. Comparing both consulates was hilarious. The next three posts will compare the extreme differences of Process, Security and Culture.

PROCESS

The US requires 3 applications, all of which need to be sent back to DC physically because the State Department’s computer system is down — worldwide! They ‘hope’ we’ll receive the passport by the end of March. I had to bring a (much resented) 22 euro Chronopost envelope for their error. My taxes don’t cover their IT mishaps apparently… One of the three applications required me to list each & every time I had been physically present in the States with exact dates. An impossible task, but one which I attempted with a few additional sheets of paper… Only to be asked for proof (ooouf!) since it was fishy that I’d had spent so much time abroad as a kid…

The Spanish (one application, computer network functioning) will have STORSH’s passport to us in less than a week (paying for the postage). However, they’re hardly stellar either… They had a numbered ticket system you’d find in any bureaucratic office, but it didn’t work as one would guess: After we got our number a gruff old Spaniard came out in person & called “next” (instead of the number)… El Argentino asked how we were supposed to know who “next” was & the crotchety old, smoked-filled bureaucrat said “Figure it out, son”… Like, “Really, Argentines are so stupid.” 



Some fresh air between the US and Spanish Consulates
Consulate Comparisons
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Consulate Comparisons

Getting a French-born expat baby’s passports


STORSH at 5 weeks old, on the metro to Place de la Concorde – US Consulate

In order for my mother to open a joint bank account in the States under both her name and her grandson’s name she needed a bunch of forms and certifications. My 16-month old son, STORSH, was born in Paris (The St Felicite Clinic, in the 15h Arrt to be exact), yet he has an American passport. We thought this would be sufficient for the banks in the States, apart from the usual request of my notarized signature (they only accept US Embassy notaries… I guess Yank banks think the Frogs don’t understand stamps and red tape) on his behalf. Well, apparently not: I need to get him a Social Security number, which I neglected to do at the start when we were getting his passports.

STORSH's US Passport
STORSH’s US Passport – the envelope figures later ın the series

This whole saga has made me revisit one fine day in February 2011, for which this “Consulate Comparisons” series is devoted: getting a typical French-born expat babe’s passports. Before launching into the Consulate comparisons, a bit of background – the nickname STORSH is an acronym. And my husband is from Buenos Aires, thus his moniker “El Argentino”. However, he’s half Spanish, thus our consulate comparison between the Americans and the Spanish.


STORSH is eligible for neither a French nor Argentine passport until he is 18 and requests it / them himself (although there are certain conditions – the French, for instance, require that apart from having been born here he needs to have lived here for 11 consecutive years before asking for his French citizenship). One more point of background – for any American readers – my mother wanted to set up a joint bank account for him to avoid the gift tax. The IRS taxes any gift over 10K. Useful to know for anyone buying a flat in Paris with generous family in the States, or the like. 

Ok, enough explanation. You are now clear on what prompted the this upcoming week’s postings comparing the American and Spanish consulates in France… Today is the (very commercial) Mother’s day in the States. My mother poo-poohs it as commercial, but none of this would have come about without her (having me was among her less productive gifts to the world). I shall return to writing about the Louvre and THATLou in early June. For now, a brief respite.


US Embassy of France, avenue Gabriel 75008 Paris (the gendarmerie car is one of many constants), image from NY Daily News
Consulate Comparisons- Security
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Consulate Comparisons- Security


This is the 3rd of a 4-part series comparing the US and Spanish Consulates in Paris. In February 2011, when STORSH was 5 weeks old, El Argentino (half Spanish), S and I went to both consulates to apply for his two citizenship / passports. It was an eventful day.


The US, of course, has an absurd 4-step security system, requiring one to cross the street twice. They email you a few days before your appointment, asking you to allow at least 20 minutes to get through security (and then being a bit threatening about missing your appointment if you’re late). I guess this makes sense, since they inevitably make you wait once you’ve spent your 20 minutes to get in. Their time is more important than yours. Plus you do have the swat cars of Gendarmerie vans lined along avenue Gabriel — a street that you have to cross twice in order to enter the consulate. Once past them you have the Consulate guards to check out your passport and appointment print out. And then you have the line to wait in to actually get to the guard house. As in any airport, prior to entering the guardhouse, you are asked to bin any liquids or foods. Then once you’re inside the guardhouse — an entirely separate building from the consulate — and your bag and coat have gone through the metal detector they   confiscate your maycup, phones, cameras and any other electronics. These are put in a locker and you’re given a key. Only then can you go to the actual consulate (The Patriot Act apparently dictated that any and all French architecture must be eliminated and that the consulate must have the stagnant air of any O’Hare Airport security room).  Such security I suppose implies how very important we are?


US Consulate, from across avenue Gabriel. One isn’t allowed to walk on that side of the road, unless they have an appointment there. Photo from Wikipedia Krokodyl


Spanish Consulate security – yes that’s Bd Malesherbes that you see through the glass

This, opposed to the Spanish Consulate in the 17th, where there wasn’t really anyreal security system. In fact the distance between Boulevard Malesherbes and the inner courtyard was perhaps 7 meters, as seen in the photo from the inner sanctum. There’s a metal detector that beeps indiscriminately, but the 16 year-old guard – who patted both of us on the arm in warm welcome, as though we were his personal guests – didn’t bother to look through anyone’s bags. That said there is a very clever fence (photographed below) that they’ve built in their courtyard, just on the opposite side of a fire escape. Phones, videos, cameras, liquid – probably guns, dynamite, bombs – are permissible. 


Please note the fence protecting the Spanish Consulate is right next to a fire escape (probably the only one in Paris). Clever stuff

The next post will conclude this Consulate Comparison Series, covering the different Cultures.
Consulate Comparisons- Culture
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Consulate Comparisons- Culture



Take a look at that desk in the distance


This is the last of a 4-part series comparing the US and Spanish Consulates in Paris. In February 2011, when STORSH was 5 weeks old, El Argentino (half Spanish), S and I went to both consulates to apply for his two citizenship / passports. It was an eventful day. 

The American lady who made us swear to “the whole truth & nothing but the truth” (El Argentino guffawed at that – you guys are so Law and Order, he said) that our three applications were truthful was very nice & chatty. She was probably 50, but had one of those 5-year old Marilyn Monroe voices. When I asked her who, besides Senator Chuck Schumer, I should complain to about non-resident citizens having trouble investing money or opening bank accounts at home she started in with a whole slew of her own stories about such difficulties and how we’re really persecuted for living abroad if we don’t keep up our credit history, etc. (yes, she worked for the State Dept)… She suggested I get official mail sent to my mother’s and set up a checking account that has Mum’s address, because otherwise I’ll just be wiped clean from the system by living abroad. It only took a few years to really just disappear. She said plenty of Americans who end up living abroad for 20 or 30 years just give up their nationality, because it becomes so nettlesome. She was sunny with all of this advice on how to get around the American Government persecution, but I didn’t think if I pointed out the irony of our little chat she would have thought it amusing. Or gotten it.  When pressed for my original request, she finally thought of someone at the Consulate I can write before starting a letter-writing campaign to my senator. Then she gave STORSH his first American flag with a bright smile!

From the messy desks that were piled with papers and stacks of civil code books, you’d think the Spanish bureaucrats had been there all their lives. My favourite, the gruff, smoke-filled oldie, let me video tape (I wanted to test whether they knew I had my phone – they did and they just didn’t care) him speaking roughly to one of his prisoners (some poor schmuck who barely spoke Spanish, needing a visa). Oddly enough the Spanish passport only allows two first names, though requires my last name after our family surname. Even if the first name is hyphenated that counts as two, not one. This perplexed both me and El Argentino, as we know plenty of Jose-Marias and the lot. Our own official, who sat next to Senior Grumpy, looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, tall skinny and evil, with a nervous laugh. She wasn’t going to let us choose Sebastian’s middle name (we wanted to skip the American Thaddeus for the Spanish Ruy in that passport), so when we raised a ruckus she deferred to Senior Grumpy for his opinion. He looked at me (familiar with my iPhone video camera, as he’d looked straight into it) and said in that unsmiling, Machine-Gun Spanish, “What the mother wants, the mother gets.” My heart melted, of course.

One more comparison for the road, before concluding this series:

PRICE

5 for US (NOT including that much-resented 22 euro envelope!) vs €16 for the Spanish to make their passports (which they generously sent to us for FREE)… 

citizen of the world on his metro ride home

Before returning to writing about the Louvre, and covering various THATLous, next week we’re going to have a brief foray into Iron and Glass in 19th Century Paris (a loose tribute to Walter Benjamin). 

That said, you’re more than welcomed to sign up for the 3 June Treasure Hunt at the Louvre by clicking on the logo to the right. It will run from 14h30 – 17h. Drink included, it’s the price of a movie and drink.

A Hunter's Theme
08 février 2013
  • THATLou

A Hunter's Theme

Dear Friends of THATMuse,

Just a quick note. For the next two weeks El Argentino, STORSH and I are going on a little adventure. First to good old ‘Stamboul for a wonderful dose of Byzantium, and then, if we muster the nerve (we’ll see how easy travelling with an energetic toddler is)  winding our way down the Aegean coast, ideally zigzagging our way between the Greek Islands and the Greek and Roman ruin-sprinkled Turkish coast. All this to say the posts of the next few weeks will have a slightly un-Louvre taste to them. Two series are scheduled to run — one meant to be a bureaucratic farce contemplating a Comparison of Consulates (whilst getting STORSH’s two passports) and the other a 3-part piece on the Grand Palais. Apologies for this diversion from all things Louvre, all things art, all things THATMuse. Perhaps a welcomed change for you – who knows.

As a quick adieu, below are a list of the themes of THATLous that I’ve built since the first Blogger’s hunt on 23 March. If you have suggestions for common themes in western art, please do send them my way. If I make a hunt you’ve suggested you’ll get a free ticket to THATLou!

So here are the themes: Angels and Wings? Just think of adorable little putti prancing about. Fish and Water? Perhaps a few 17th century Dutch still lifes are in there. Power and Money? Give me busts of glory! Perhaps from the Roman Empire? You get the idea. For now, all of the below hunts are in English, sauf! Wheels and Motion, which is thus far our only French hunt (to which I have a fast-moving Italian to thank).

Angel + Wings

Fish + Water

Power + Money

Food + Wine

Ladies at the Louvre

Animals in Art

Wheels + Motion (offered in French)

For private parties I design specific hunts, working with the client on which theme is both achievable within the museum, as well as what would suit the guest of honour most. For example, if it’s a birthday party and the boy’s name is Sebastian, we could have a theme of St. Sebastian paintings, sculptures, icons, and arrows in art. Happy May!
Rosecrans Baldwin
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Rosecrans Baldwin



Rosecrans Baldwin cover, published by FSG 24 April 2012


This is not a book review. It’s neither the appropriate time nor place to post a book review of Rosecrans Baldwin’s Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. But I just had to stop by for a moment to mention how rib-painfully funny Mr. Baldwin is. 

I dare anyone to read just the first two pages and not to get hooked. I have rarely disturbed El Argentino or my fellow metro travellers as much as I did when chortling — walloping gulps of laughs — spittles of unnoticed drool flying from my lips as I read his observations and interactions. Tears streaming down my cheeks, completely unembarrassed, because I was entirely unaware of myself, because I was with this astute, self-deprecating, edgy Rosecrans.

I’m not one for expat literature (though David Sedaris can be funny, of course), but I can’t leave this Paris, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down un-noted.

Thank you Gully Wells for having sent me during our dreary, cold winter — Farrar, Straus & Giroux has made a very wise publication choice. Here’s a Slate review of it.

PS/ El Argentino, who takes little notice of what I read or write, is fascinated with the name Rosecrans. I keep hearing him muttering to himself: Is Rosecrans related to the northern Civil War General?
Show Me The Money!
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

Show Me The Money!

Just a quick round up of the Power + Money THATLou. A good time was had by all, and quite appropriately a new dimension to THATMuse was created by the Entrepreneurs brainstorming at  table: the THATLou Dollar!

A whole menu of THATLou Dollars will be listed imminently, but the general idea is that if you press ‘like’ or tag a photo on Facebook, write a review on Trip Advisor, tell a friend — who then befriends THATLou and attends the next one (which happens to be Sunday 6 May) you’ll earn THATLou$s. They work like frequent flyer miles and a special thanks to Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet, founder of www.shiraly.com for such a clever idea.

Below are some snaps of the teams as they touched down, as well as the two teams who won Louvre Napoleon paraphernalia (where he was short on height he was certainly tall on power, ooh là là!).


THATLou Entrepreneur's Networking Event



Team Blonde Ambition, ParisGuide Squared, Jo Craig + Lisa Rankin representing Guide2Paris + Flavors of Paris, respectively



Team Savoir Faire Paris, Tess Bovee, Maranda Stappenbeck and founder, Sasha Levenson-Wahl


Team French Mystique Tours, Bruce and Veronique McAleer


Team Shiraly, Raphael d'Aligny + Anne-Pierre de Peyronnet

As for the winners, please join me in congratulating http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/ in their record-breaking WIN. It is record breaking for many reasons:

–       Sasha Levenson Wahl is the first THATLou player to be a two-time winner (yes, others have played more than once!)

–       The Savoir Faire Paris team beat the record with the amount they racked up – finishing with a score of 635 out of 1000!

–       They are also the first team I’ve ever caught separated – debiting points, as per the instructions! It all happened between Livia and Tiberius, and for some reason I found this hilarious. I went to St Stephen’s School, an international boarding school in Rome for a year. There was a great (but fierce & appropriately frightening) head of boarding named Gilly Halfpenny and when Miss Halfpenny caught us smoking out our windows or in one another’s rooms after hours, the heart-stopping panic of how many demerits we were about to be pounded with is exactly the look on Tess, Maranda and Sasha’s faces. Too funny, making me love THATLou and this fine competitive SFP team even more.

Then the most important point of pride for this win really falls to Sasha Levenson-Wahl. Each THATLou has a few pieces of art that are worth considerably more than the others, because they have been written about on this blog (none are sufficient to win the hunt with alone). They always have bonus questions embedded in the text of the description, whose answers have been written about here, on the blog. Sasha read the instructions (disseminated to players usually a day or two before the hunts) carefully the first THATLou she attended (Poisson d’Avril) and as a result did her homework and won the prize. Running into the girls in the Julio-Claudian Roman bust section was even more rewarding for me, because Sasha was swearing about not remembering the name of Messalina, the Empress who slept with 25 men in a 24-hour period. Eventually the name came to her for which they won an extra 50 bonus points. I enjoy designing THATLous for many reasons, but an audience like Sasha, who leaves with this entirely useless piece of trivia about the 3rd wife of Emperor Claudius tops the list. That she, too, can laugh about what I find such fun/funny/ interesting/ notable in the museum pleases no end. So a big thank you to the SFP team for winning the Napoleon coasters seen below.


Winning Team! Savoir Faire Paris, Tess Bovee, Sasha Levenson-Wahl + Maranda Strappenbeck

A second Tweet prize went to Lisa Rankin, of http://flavorsofparis.com/ and Jo Craig, of http://guide2paris.com/. The day of the hunt this competition was announced, and indeed, by miles Flavors of Paris stole the Twitter prize with her clever updates as to donning flats over heels, and all the good cheer she was up ton in preparation for the big competition.  Both Lisa and her husband Michael Lutzmann, who run tours focussed on food in St Germain des Prés, have wonderful, fun, inventive tweets.  A hearty congratulations to both teams, and a toast to both Team Shiraly and Team French Mystique Tours.


Tweet Winners! Flavors of Paris and Guide2Paris, Lisa Rankin and Jo Craig
THATLou: Power+Money
01 février 2013
  • THATLou,
  • Misc

THATLou: Power+Money

Just a quick round up of the notable companies involved in the Paris Entrepreneur’s THATLou. Though its purpose is as a networking event, we can’t overlook the theme these fine capitalists will be scouting for — Power + Money in the halls of the Louvre! This past week THATLou has focused on Roman Empire power, but there’s a panoply of international power both at the Louvre and in these pages which may just nose its way to the surface in this scheming hunt. Stay tuned for the winners. 



NYSE Trader’s floor, 1963 photo by Thomas O’Halloran

THATLou Parisian Entrepreneur Night

http://shiraly.com/

Shiraly is a one-stop website for design professionals to promote their products and services, identify new sources and events, and get inspired by things that help make the world a more interesting place to live in.

Inspiring articles and op-eds range from Lalique’s crystal door, to Delanoe’s recycling in Paris, a brief history of the Paris metro, to thoughts on Balmain’s reinvention, Fauchon and let’s not forget the waterworks show at Le Grand Rex. Though Shiraly is geared toward interior designers and architects, artists and artisans, its “Inspiration” page is read by a far greater audience on both sides of the pond. 

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http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/

Savoir Faire Paris is your ultimate English-speaking personal assistant in Paris. Organizing everything from meetings, events, and service calls to travel, apartment management, and the ‘business of living’, Savoir Faire is dedicated to saving you valuable time. Providing superior customized service to individuals, families and businesses alike, Savoir Faire caters to your tastes and needs, allowing you to experience a more personalized Paris. Send us your “to-do” list and then consider it done! Savoir Faire exists to simplify and enhance the lives of its clients.

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http://flavorsofparis.com/


Flavors of Paris We provide highly personal, carefully vetted walking tours of some of Paris’ most charming, pleasurable and downright ‘local’ foodshops that are neither pretentious nor ‘gourmet’. Our English language walking tours introduce you to a sampling of neighbourhood food shops, with all the tastings included. We also offer tours customized to your specific interests. 

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http://guide2paris.com/

Guide2Paris
is a one-stop website for english speaking tourists, residents and property hunters. Browse the comprehensive Paris guide, check out the events calender, search for Paris companies on our business directory, look for Paris accommodation and restaurants, and keep up to date with the latest Paris news and featured articles. 

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http://www.frenchmystiquetours.com/


French Mystique Bike Tours is a company that specializes in doing day-long bike tours exploring the countryside near Paris. Our tours are focused on showing you off the beaten path places and are full of charming villages, beautiful country scenery and magnificent châteaux. While we also cover some well known destinations, the emphasis is on showing you a side of France not seen by most tourists. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

http://www.kasiadietz.com/


Kasia Dietz is a designer who creates wearable art in the form of totes, handbags, clutches and other limited edition accessories. Select collections are hand-printed. Kasia Dietz also designs custom bags to order. All products are made {with love} in Paris and available internationally.



Adam Smith etching, 1787. Taken from Harvard’s Visual Information Access System (lest the invisible hand attack me, the site is: http://www.library.hbs.edu)

… Because Individual Ambition Does Benefit Society, 
no matter what the French Mercantilists thought…
A Panoply of Power
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

A Panoply of Power



Mme de Pompadour, by Maurice-Quentin Delatour (this is a pastel - how did he avoid smudging??)


My mind has turned to Power & Money at the Louvre as I start to build the Entrepreneur’s THATLou. Sadly it’s rather soon. I say sadly, because there are just so many great anecdotes nestled in the halls of the Louvre. It will be a tough process of elimination more than anything. Should I focus on a region or country? A period of time, perhaps? 

For this theme, could I give myself a real challenge and exclude all French monarchs? The Louvre does have 35,000 works from which to scrounge. And it’s not like France is lacking in colourful figures with tight fists on power: Mme de Pompadour, Mme de Sevigné and Diane de Poitiers are a few who come to mind – None actual Queens.  And ruthlessly ambitious ministers abound – we’ve got the clever economist Jean-Baptiste Colbert, of Colbertism (read, protectionism), the fearsome warrior, Anne de Montmorency (first constable to François I), and the clergymen-turned-politicians Cardinal Richelieu and Talleyrand. But it does seem a crime to leave out the rest of the western cannon just for France.


Alexander the Great 'The Azara Herm' 1st century AD after the original by Lysippus from circa 330 BC

What about Alexander the Great, and his equally important father Philip of Macedon? The Louvre just had an exhibition devoted solely to him. He had the nerve to attack the Persian Empire, pushing as far as the Indus River.  Speaking of the Persian Empire, we mustn’t over look Darius the Great, nor his father or son, Cyrus and Xerxes, respectively. His greatness and matching palace has merited more than one THATLou post.

Then what about the Iliad? The Trojan War is rich in power. Achilles, with his distinctly human faults, personifies power. Perhaps because of that very first scene with him in the Iliad, with Thetis, his goddess mother consoling the big whiney cry baby, trying to coax him into returning to war). There are so many scenes from his life to choose from, so many pots to choose from… the detail below is from an attic black-figured neck amphora from 520 – 510BC. A scene of Ajax carrying a dead Achilles, with Hermes on his left, Athena on his right.



taken from Louvre.fr

Moving on from Greece, one automatically thinks of Rome, no? Finding living fiction, the Julio-Claudian dynasty is of course oozing in power — and very, very RICH in soap-opera, with scheming murders, adultery and just plain juice. Yes, I think our next few posts may linger on the Roman Empire.
Sassy Sculptors
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

Sassy Sculptors



taken from louvre.fr


Milo of Croton was a powerful 6th Century athlete, having won the Olympics 6 times for his strength as a wrestler. As with any star in Greece, there were a plethora of legends about him. One story had him carrying a 4-year old bull on his shoulders before slaughtering and devouring him all in one day… Aristotle compared Milo to Heracles for his appetite: his daily diet was allegedly 20 lb of meat, 20 lb of bread, and eighteen pints of wine. 

But it is Milo’s death which captivates most. His death was the story of pride: Well past his prime, the aged Milo decided to split a tree trunk he found already cleft. With his hand stuck in it, a pack of wolves devoured him. Modern literary references range from Rabelais to Shakespeare, all the way down to Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights when Catherine refers to Milo’s demise asking “Who is to separate us, pray? They’ll meet the fate of Milo!”

Finance Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert authorised Pierre Puget (1620 – 1694), an academic sculptor, to use some marble that had been left in Toulon, and commissioned him to do a piece for Louis XIV.  Milo wasn’t a particularly popular subject in 17th C French scupture, but here Puget made him one, replacing the wolves with this fierce-some lion. Having him about to take a big juicy bite out of Milo’s rear-end. A sassy man this Puget was, as the thread keeping Milo’s demise together is about how he was vanquished by his pride and vanity, trying — and failing — to defy age and the weakness that comes with it. His roar isn’t just a physical one from those painful claws, no. Human glory is ephemeral, folks, and Puget wants you, and more importantly, the King, to know it. Life spans were shorter than they are now, so Louis XIV’s 44 years did not make him a spring chicken!



Falconet's Milo of Croton

Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716 – 1791) took this sassy-ness one step further. Puget’s Milo at least has a small modicum of pride — standing, pushing the lion’s head away. Falconet tipped his hat to his elder by choosing this subject, but furthered Milo’s insult by making him a painful mess, a baroque basket case. He pits man against beast on equal footing, with Milo’s end clearly seconds away. This sculpture is small — .66m tall, .64m wide, .51m deep — and was the model which would gain Falconet entry to the French Academy (ten years later, in 1754). As it’s a small piece it’s tucked away at the end of the French sculpture wing, behind a series of rooms which run along rue de Rivoli. Quite different from Puget’s Milo, who stands smack dab in the middle of the Cour Puget, in the spotlight, where the noses of the public sully the windows on the street, looking into this Richelieu’s sculpture wing.


taken from crashboombang.net

Now aren’t you glad you read this entry? These Milos could appear in all sorts of THATLous, from Power + Money to Animals in Art or Athlete’s THATLou. And now you’re all prepped for any bonus point questions which may arise, even if asked to produce a limerick!
THATMet Teaser, Frank Lloyd Wright
01 février 2013
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

THATMet Teaser, Frank Lloyd Wright



photo taken from the Met's website

Frank Lloyd WRIGHT (1867-1959)

Window from the Coonley House, 1912

Height 86 ¼ x 28 x 2 inches, glass and zinc

The Avery Coonley House, in a suburb of Chicago, was designed by FLW and constructed in 1907-8. Bonus fifty points if you get a tourist to take your whole team’s photo in the Frank Lloyd Wright room nearby — and for those New Yorkers who don’t know where this room is, shame on you. But to put THATMet aside for a moment I must tell you a quick story from FLW’s life, which you guys probably knew, but I didn’t and find it an absolutely bizarre and fascinatingdiscovery: FLW left his first wife in 1909 (in Illinois) for Mamah Borthwick Cheney, a married client with whom FLW was having a long-standing very public affair. In 1911 he and Mamah moved in together in Scottsdale, AZ (where his maternal family was from) in a house he built and named Taliesin…

On August 15, 1914, while Wright was in Chicago, his manservant of 2 months, Julian Carlton, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and had a total blood bath, axing 7 people as the fire burned the house down.  The dead were: Mamah; her two children, John and Martha; Thomas Brunker, the foreman; Emil Brodelle, a draftsman; David Lindblom, a landscape gardener; and Ernest Weston, the son of the carpenter William Weston. Two victims survived —William Weston and draftsman Herb Fritz—and the elder Weston helped to put out the fire that almost completely consumed the residential wing of the house. Carlton, hiding in the unlit furnace, survived the fire but died in jail six weeks later. His wife Gertrude also survived, having escaped the burning building through the basement; she denied any knowledge of her husband’s actions. This entry is entirely too long for you to be reading whilst on a hunt, but one more fact I am compelled to raise: FLW rebuilt Taliesin and it burned down again in 1925 (to an electrical fire)! Talk about loyal to your land! 

POINTS: 45

The above is the 2nd of a two-part series, giving you examples of the funny bits of useless knowledge you pick up going on THATLous and THATMets and whathaveyous. The first part of the THATMet Teaser concerned FLW’s teacher, Savvy Mr Sully.
Poisson d'Avril ThatLou
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

Poisson d'Avril ThatLou



taken from the Louvre website


Poisson d’Avril is the French version of April Fool’s Day, where on the 1st of April French people will post fish on each others’ backs. In tribute to this, the theme for next Sunday’s THATLou (a part of the Sunday series) is… you guessed it: Fish + Water! Lucky you’re reading this, as it’s you may very well pick up some terrific bonus points… 

This “Still life with Carp” (creative name, no?) was painted by Abraham van Beyeren, a 17th Century Dutch master who’s niche was still lifes. He was a protege to Pieter de Putter. Though de Putter was a lesser painter, his name may be worth a THATLou goldmine —

It’s not guaranteed, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if for some hefty bonus points you just might be asked to write a limerick / haiku / rhyme about Pieter de Putter. These golden Carp could very well apply to the Animals in Art THATLou, or even the Food + Wine THATLou.

Oh yeah, and it’s not too late to sign up for the Poisson d’Avril Fish + Water THATLou, which is part of our Sunday Series open to the public. As we do the first Sunday of every month, we’re meeting at 2.30 on…. no joke… 1 April. Contact me now if you’d like to join a handful of veritable fisherman (among them Sasha Levensohn-Wahl, founder of Savoir Faire Paris, http://www.savoirfaireparis.com/)


Have I mustered your interest to put your Plume to Paper for Mr Pieter de Putter who just might have a Dutch stutter?
THATMet Teaser, Louis Sullivan
01 février 2013
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

THATMet Teaser, Louis Sullivan



taken from the Met's website

Louis Henri SULLIVAN (1856-1924)

Chicago Stock Exchange Building Staircase, cast iron, walnut banister 1893

Louis Sully, as an old art history teacher used to lovingly call him, has been considered many things: The Father of the Skyscraper, the Grandfather of Modernism, the head honcho of the Prairie school. Mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright, Savvy Mr Sully is one of the “Recognised Trinity of American Architecture” along with Henry Hobson Richardson (think of that horrible Trinity Church in Boston, ‘Richardsonian Romanesque’) and Frank Lloyd Wright (who needs no reminders). Demolished in 1972, there’s a smattering of the glorious Chicago Stock Exchange here and there —  a stone arch in the garden of the Chicago Art Institute and this beautiful ironworked banistered stairwell at the Met. Staircases lend themselves to arty photography, especially when they’re as pretty as this one. An extra fifty points for the team whose photo is the artiest – we’ll vote by consensus at the bar together (you’re not allowed to vote for yourself).

POINTS: 35

This is a two-part series of THATMet teasers. The same type of clue is given for THATLou (as you’ve seen in the Veronese Teaser)…

In fact, something that sprouted from Savvy Mr Sully (who ran in a December THATMet) is an idea to hold a THATLou photo competition. Should anyone have suggestions, I’m all ears!
A Blogger's THATLou
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

A Blogger's THATLou

Well then, it does feel like an awfully long time since I’ve lingered on the Louvre, but I guess a week’s not so very long. This week I’ve been focusing on the Louvre from a different perspective – I’m very pleased to announce that this upcoming Friday, 23 March, we’re having our first blogger’s THATLou!

Kasia generously put me in touch with the blogging community in Paris and Forest Collins, of 52Martinis.com, is organizing the after-drinks where we’ll count up our score, have the THATLou prize-giving ceremony, and drink deconstructed martinis at her friend Christophe’s place, The Why bar, at 60, rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau 75001. 52Martinis — a blog, a meetup group, a lifestyle — is Forest’s very well written, edgy review of various cocktail bars around the city which she and her crew scout out each Wednesday. Needless to say, I am pleased as punch to be co-hosting this THATLou with Kasia and Forest.

Without naming names of bloggers (as not everyone likes their nom de plumes unveiled!),  the following will partake in the fierce competition of this Friday’s THATLou:

www.loveinthecityoflights.com

www.52martinis.com

www.lamomparis.com  

www.outandaboutinparis.com

www.girlsguidetoparis.com

www.totallyfrenchedout.blogspot.com


And from this foray into the blogger’s THATLou two more THATLous have sprouted: a Kid’s Treasure Hunt, and a Parisian Entrepreneur’s THATLou.

So yes, I look forward to returning to focusing on the Louvre from a content point of view, but for the moment I’m happily out on the THATLou trail…. Let the games begin!
Is Raising Kids Scientific?
01 février 2013
  • Misc

Is Raising Kids Scientific?

I went to the American Library to hear Pamela Druckerman speak on her recently published book Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting.  The WSJ’s review headline was “French Parents are Superior”, causing a flurry of publicity that officially replaces Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as the latest all-the-rage parenting book in the States. Druckerman, a former WSJ journalist (thus perhaps the publicity-catching review — to position her book as polemic certainly helps sales!), has been raising her 6-year old and a set of 3-year old twins in Paris.

I have no intention of reading her book. STORSH, my one year old, would reap no benefit from my profound resentment at wasting my time on a parenting book; I’ve found them to give parents far too much credit. However, because a good friend in NY sent me the WSJ link and then in the course of two days I heard a plethora of references to Druckerman, my curiosity was peaked. I was relieved that at points her talk was more publicity-prone, with twinges of a sociological argument, more than any of the parenting pontification that I expected. Throughout it she kept referring to what research proved, even saying at one point that it was “aligned with science”. Is raising kids scientific? Her whole premise is that the French set strict boundaries for their children, but that within the parameters the kids can do whatever the hell they want. Is this scientific?

And is there really a ‘right way’ or a ‘wrong way’ to raise kids? Surely you don’t want some snot-nosed little brat with candy in their lap watching television in dirty pajamas in the middle of the day, but that’s basic common sense. We don’t have to consult experts or books to know that. But on a more mature, interesting level – because though I adore STORSH his age bracket isn’t the most scintillating – one instills in their child what one values. My wishes for him are simple: I’d like to see him develop into a well-mannered, well-read and widely travelled little guy who’s self-sufficient and engaged in society, whichever society he chooses to make home. But to reach this, all we as parents can do is lead by example. We’re simply guideposts.  As Druckerman told us anecdotes of how horribly the NY press treated her last week my mind wandered… If I want him habitually engaged in society, then we’ll have to be GOTV (get out the vote) volunteers during election time or pitch in at a community garden (although the only one I know of in Paris is a tiny patch at Marché des Enfants Rouges, so I guess we’ll have to make soup at St Eustache for the homeless). I was roused from my musings for the Q&A session.

The library crowd tends to be well educated and older. Last night’s reading, attended by probably a bit over a hundred people, had its share of 30 year old mothers mixed into the usual white-headed audience. The questions were slightly pissy, slightly aggressive and her tone was at times defensive, others dismissive as she cut people off. One of the questions pointed out that her talk was all about the public’s reaction to her book, opposed to about the book itself. This comment got a lot of nodding heads. Another question was by a mother of 3 (who’d been here for years) who asked if she didn’t think it was dangerous to idealise the French method to raising children. Druckerman dodged this, even when it was reiterated verbatim.  I don’t think there was one person in the crowd who had read the book (certainly everyone who had questions said they hadn’t), and none of left knowing more about why French parents were deemed wiser.

However, with more questions more of her experience researching the book came through, which at one point was amusing. Since most well-educated French women go back to work pretty soon after having a baby, and aren’t put under pressure to breast feed for long stretches, they tend to send their babies to the crèche, the state-run daycare — sometimes as early as 2.5 months. Druckerman said her American friends were horrified she let anything state run near her child, that it was like being told she sent her kids packaged up to the Post Office. I had similar reactions when I told friends in New York that STORSH was in the crèche at 9 months, but I think it’s a marvelous system. It socializes him. Plus he only gets Spanish from his father, el Argentino, and English from me, so it gives him a jumpstart to be around French. Druckerman pointed out, too, that the crèche provided her kids with 4 course meals of food she wouldn’t have even considered offering. When she told one of the French mothers about this American allergy to all things State, the mother said, “but I like La Poste.”

I like La Poste, too. Their soundtrack is nearly as catchy as SNCF’s. As for bringing up Bébé – be it in the States or France – there’s one thing I do know:  there’s nothing scientific about it.
A THATLou Zoo of a Weekend
01 février 2013
  • THATLou

A THATLou Zoo of a Weekend

So my mind has been more of a zoo than usual:  I’ve been bouncing around ideas for different themes for the perfect Louvre treasure hunt. This weekend’s attack: Animals! I thought it only logical that one of our hunts should be more than just a chasse au tresor, that we should bring this thing back to a real HUNT… Though THATLou is a spot more urbane than muddied rubber boots and duck whistles, you’re more than welcome to sport your pith helmut.

We’ve got animals in all sizes, shapes and of course materials… Bronze, marble, terra cotta, oil, glass, lapis lazuli. We’ve got lions and tigers and bears… and then to touch on the more exotic there are African cranes, proud peacocks, fire-blowing dragons and kilins – ever hear of a kilin? (I hadn’t and had the fun of looking it up. The very reason THATMuse is such a joy for me is all the research involved – which is also why it takes me so long to write up each hunt). Then of course there are the down and out that can’t be overlooked, such as lice with a fine young fellow picking at them. Ok, ok, that’s enough of that. If I go on my whole hunt will be given away! So I best be off.

Since I can’t very well post any of the images from my zoo of a weekend I shall leave you with a refreshingly vibrant gallery front from the 6th Arrt.



All photos on this site, unless otherwise credited, are taken by the author.
A Tweeted THATLou Bonanza
15 janvier 2013
  • THATLou

A Tweeted THATLou Bonanza

The Blogger’s THATLou was a resounding success. The theme was Angels and Wings, allowing the clever Blog-Hunters to spend their night, pre-cocktail, prancing about with plump putti, flying off as fast as Mercury with those wings on his heels.

Among the most famous pieces at the Louvre is the Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC), who stood proudly at the ship’s prow and now stands proudly at the top of the grand Daru staircase. Originally she had her arm raised, with her hand cupped at the edge of her lips calling out her victory (that hand is now at the Kunsthistorischemuseum in Vienna). The sanctuary at Samothrace was consecrated to the Cabeiri, gods of fertility whose help was invoked to protect seafarers and to grant victory in war. To be able to photograph this Hellenistic gem without others in the shot was a THATLou Victory, with a promise for a post in and of itself (with perhaps a bit more lingering on the actual sculpture). Bloggers snaps of this attempt (with some excellent successes) will follow.

During the hunt I should have taken more (and better!) photos, but I was off contemplating the THATLou prizes — which ended up being colorful Louvre notepads and pens, a joke on how the plume-holding muscles in all of our hands are atrophying, what with all of our blogging and twittering, texting and overall virtual existences.

For now just a few snaps of the most excellent night taken from Twitter. First prize went to Melanie Vaz and Thibault Devillers, the only 2-person team. Second prize, for the team who tweeted the most, went to Emma Bentley, Karin Bates Prescott, Alisa Morov and Rachel.


Alisa, Rachel and Emma walking (and whistling) like an Egyptian


A Sweet Pea Paris oatmeal cookie, presented handsomely on the THATLou point page in the halls of the Louvre


Rachel, Alisa and Karin forsaking THATLou points for a break and a slug of wine no doubt, which Emma Bentley smuggled in for the hunt


Touch Down, the last tweet of THATLou Twitter winners Rachel, Karin, Alisa (and Emma taking and tweeting the shot)


Kristen, Mary Kay and Sylvia's team came in a close second with both tweets and THATLou score. Here's one of Kristen's shots among a sea of sculpture


A lovely shot tweeted from Mary Kay, Sylvia and Kristen's team (taken by Kristen)

Apologies for the small format of the following team touchdown photos… A technological cretin, I evidently don’t know how to use my phone.


Kasia, Giorgio and Camilla


Mary Kay, Sylvia and Kristen


Annie, Edna, Jennifer and Sam


Opal Taylor, VBM and Vera Baker's team

Melanie Vaz and Thibault Devillers, the 52Martini winning team

Congrats to all for making it such a fun night — Especially to those who picked up the hefty bonus points for reading this blog.

Please let me know if you’d like to join any future hunts, or if you have any special visitors who would enjoy a private THATMuse. 

THATLou Logo: Provenance Kasia Dietz
10 avril 2013
  • THATLou,
  • Misc

THATLou Logo: Provenance Kasia Dietz

photo by Johann Guetta, of Jet Set Productions



This blog wouldn’t exist were it not for the encouragement of Kasia Dietz.  We were walking back from Gare du Nord, having seen off our friend Saad Iqbal. Saad had dropped by to see us for a long weekend to say hello before he toddled back out into the world, off to pick up his beautiful Columbian fiancee in London so they could have their multi-city weddings. I was telling Kasia about my treasure hunt endeavour when she suggested I start a blog about it. Doing what you love shines through, she said simply. She has that knack for making success seem seamless. Having moved here just three years ago to follow her now-husband, Kasia reinvented herself entirely. Leaving a successful career in advertising behind in NY, she came here without a word of French under her belt, started her blog (www.loveinthecityoflights.com), started Kasia Dietz Handbags (which within a year of starting the company were being sold at most haute of all department stores, Bon Marche), and boom within such a short span of time has been a super success, and super source of inspiration to those lucky enough to be near her.

So when Kasia started her bag-painting workshops at the Sugarplum Cake cafe last December I was among the first to sign up. After hearing great tales of the full pack of cigarettes her non-smoking lungs inhale when she goes to her material supplier’s in the Sentier, I wanted to see what she did. Not to mention to take a stab at making a THATLou logo — I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I also don’t have a platform in which to try exercising my non-creative bones, so here was the perfect solution. What better place to do some logo-brainstorming than hyped-up on a delicious sugar high? You don’t just get the joy of creating your own wearable art at the Kasia Dietz workshop, you also reap the benefits of her carefully chosen workshop venue, the Sugarplum Cake cafe, (an adorable pastry shop in the 5th Arrt)?

Below are snaps from both that first bag-painting session, where the THATLou logo was born (which Marfa artist and high school friend Sam Schonzeit made into the proper logo. For a while we were calling it ‘clean, fat and green’ for the roundness of the Lou vowels), as well as the fruits of my most recent attempt to imprint my Louvre stamp on the Met, in the THATMet bag.



photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia's Brooklyn bag is among my faves


photo by Johann Guetta from Jet Set Productions, Stephanie (of La Belle in France) to the left, Kasia standing


photo by Opal Taylor, Kasia serving Sugarplum Cake's delicious carrot cake



Where will the "Nat" for a THATNat (NG in London) go for the next round?

None of this, not the bags, nor the logos, nor the blog would have come about without one clever New Yorker, Kasia Dietz. Thank you, my darling!
The Cross-Purpose Greek Pot
09 février 2014
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – Skull Scouting,
  • THATLou - Food & Wine

The Cross-Purpose Greek Pot


The Louvre Greek and Roman Antiquities, from louvre.fr

Ok, enough horsing around here, we’re going to cut strait to the chase and give you a sample, a teaser, a piece of the hunt! Which THATLou, you ask? Well, the below morsel is particularly great because it could fit into any number of near-future hunts.

Meet the Cross-Purpose Greek Pot, a world-famous Dinos by the Gorgon Painter…

There are two THATLous that this Dinos would be perfect for

– as the previous Gorgon post discussed, the very word the Greeks gave these ghoulish creatures means Horrible or Terrible. Terribly appropriate for Beauty + the Bestiary THATLou. Bestiary has been touched on here and there in past blog posts with Darius the Great’s wonderful Frieze of Griffins, and those gentle protecting Lamassus).

– And where would you find a Dinos other than at a symposium (FEAST) that the Greeks lingered over endlessly (appropriate for Foodies in France who may just opt to see the Louvre from the perspective of Food + Wine)? Of course a Dinos fits in there perfectly, to ground the floating debauched bacchuses from flying about, perhaps a bit too much wine needs some water!

Anyway, enough chatter from me. Here’s your hint, take it and run for the THATLou prize!


Gorgon Painter Greek pot at louvre, taken from Eschatology.com 

ATTIC BLACK-FIGURE DINOS, by the GORGON PAINTER

Cerveteri (from Athens, Greece), Circa 580 BC

Clay, H 93cm


A Dinos was used to mix water and wine – and stood on a tall stand so the servants didn’t have to stoop during the long banquets that Dinoses were made for (The Greeks drank a lot of wine, but always diluted). This early Attic Dinos is of particular importance because it gave the Gorgon Painter his name – referring to the scene on one side of the pot with Perseus being chased by the Goggle-Eyed Gorgons, after he murdered their sister Medusa, shown collapsing after Perseus lobbed off her head: Death taking hold of her before our very eyes. Remember Medusa had turned all those who dared look in her eyes to stone. Perseus was clever enough (with Athena’s help) to approach her using the reflection of his shield like a rear-view mirror, thus avoiding his demise. The Gorgon Painter is one of the earliest masters of the Black Figure technique and a pioneer of the Attic tradition of figurative decoration on pottery. There is a convergence of influences on this Dinos – among the series of bands of friezes with alternating plant motifs and animals, including bestiary such as sphinxes and mermaids there are also male figures, a reference to the Oriental tradition of the Master of Animals.

POINTS: XXX (depends on the hunt)

Denon, lower ground floor, room 1 (in the “Pre-Classical Greek” section next to the Islamic collection)



Attic Black-Figured Dinos, by the Gorgon Painter, Louvre.fr This is the only vase by the Gorgon Painter – who was prolific – to depict a complex narrative, but also the first Attic vase to do so at all… Don’t nod off — this is interesting enough stuff folks, to merit some bonus points!

For a background on Athenian red and black-figure vase painting the Met has a thorough summary here. As for their shapes, Wikipedia has a wonderful collection of photographs with their names – which if you click on the names will of course lead you to their purpose. Click here for that visit.

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Remember if things are in bold it may just mean they’ll help you out with bonus questions embedded in your treasure hunt… In other words, worth taking note of!
Medusa as Bestiary
07 juin 2013
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – Skull Scouting,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul

Medusa as Bestiary



Caravaggio’s Medusa (1598, Uffizi, Firenze


Tomorrow night is the first of a two-part THATLou series hosting an international law firm. Having lawyers, accustomed to scrutinizing small print, go a-hunting excites me no end, especially when they’ll be after imaginary creatures like bestiary (for balance they’re also after beauty). Will they catch this hint? Is that one too obvious? What about this bonus question — too involved? I’ve had loads of fun considering it all. And as a free-be to these fine solicitors, I’m posting the most involved bonus question here on the night before. Ironically, given their trade, they probably won’t have time to read beforehand, so I guess it’s good they’re clever enough to think on their feet to write a limerick in honor of one element of either of the below tales, both attached to the below sample treasure (NB this is expanded text, no piece of treasure has more than 10 or 12 lines, as you don’t have enough time to digest more whilst out on the prowl): 



Géricault’s Raft of Medusa (1818-1819) Louvre 


THE RAFT OF MEDUSA

Théodore GÉRICAULT (Rouen, 1791 – Paris, 1824)

19th Century French, H 4.91 x W 7.16m (in other words “Grand Format”)

The ‘Hope of Rescue’ is how Géricault chose to paint this painting, which stands as an icon of Romanticism. The Medusawas the name of a French Royal Navy frigate that set sail in 1816 to colonize Senegal. With over 150 soldiers on board, when the ship wreck took place in the Atlantic, they had to build rafts due to a shortage of lifeboats (talk about health and safety!). Only 10 people survived the 13-day odyssey, and the stories of cannibalism and brutality which ensued caught the fascination of Géricault, as well as contemporary journalists and the general public alike. This French number is famous enough to be studied in any introductory Art History class (please note the composition of two pyramids), but it’s the news story behind it that captures the interest of the general public.

The frigate was named for Medusa, the frightening Greek mythological creature with poisonous snakes for hair (talk about Bestiary!). To name a frigate Medusa in and of itself is a strange choice. Poseidon, God of the Sea, had been madly in love with the Gorgon sister Medusa, but when she spurned his love, he turned both her and her two sisters into monsters with snake hair. Poseidon also placed her in total isolation, by cursing her with the conversation-stopper-quality of being turned to stone if you met her gaze!

Aided by Athena and Hermes, the mortal Perseus went to the end of the world (where Poseidon had exiled her) to challenge Medusa, who’d been making trouble. He cleverly used the reflection of his  shield to avert her gazeand protect himself. When he got close enough to behead her, a volcano of blood sprouted, and from each drop of blood sprang more horrible creatures – Pegasus (a winged horse) and Chrysaor (a winged giant boar) – who were believed to have been Medusa’s children with Poseidon. Bestiary spawn bestiary, of course!


Perseus with Medusa’s head, Piazza della Signoria, Firenze 

So here’s the give away: take an element of this fantastic story – be it 19th Century French frigate or Greek mythology – and spin it into a limerick, for muchos puntos. Now how’s that for impetus for thinking of the quickest rhyme for frigate? Perhaps mitigate? Go to it, Lawyers!

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Caravaggio’s 1598 painting of Medusa (at top) is among the most famous images of her in art (rightly so!), and just down the street from where she lives at the Galleria degli Uffizi is this statue of Perseus, with poor Medusa’s brains dangling from her beheaded neck (his perfect frame is standing on her body). My mother always said that what I called dangling brains was in fact her hair, but I say pshah! What child doesn’t like gore – and that gore doesn’t look like snakes, does it? The story of Medusa is also covered in this Greek Dinos — a Greek pot measuring a meter in height and filled to the brim with diluted wine … My those Greeks liked to drink! Both of these pieces of treasure often appear in the same hunt and cross reference each other so to reinforce the story — perhaps highlighting what instrument allowed Perseus to get close enough to slice Medusa’s head off!

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This Gericault Raft of Medusa is certainly a juicy number. Being such an iconic piece of French Romanticism (and Louvre “Greatest Hit”) I dare say it also appears in the Public Hunts “All Things Gaul” hunt held every Bastille Day (works only by Frenchmen) and in the Halloween Death hunt.

Here are lovely write ups of the first Halloween Hunt, one in Aussie in France the other in Colleen’s Paris. The former write up includes the following limerick (unfortunately I’m not at liberty to post any of the clever limericks the lawyers wrote due to client confidentiality)

Poseidon the god of the sea
Rarely took time for a pee, but
He pulled down his trunks
Screamed “you are all skunks”
And did it before all who could see

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Noted elsewhere in the blog, strictly speaking the term “Bestiary” covers Medieval European imaginary creatures such as Unicorns, Griffins, Dragons, etc. For the purposes of you seeing a broader expanse of the Louvre, however, the Beauty + Bestiary THATLou theme stretches the definition of Bestiary to Egyptian Sphinxes, Greek Centaurs and as you see here, the likes of half-human Gorgons.
Alex ze Great
16 août 2014
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Alex ze Great



Alexander in context – this is a dead give away, folks! Venus’s snap is on the map (photo by Cosmo Wenman)




Drew finds Alex on a Kings + Leaders THATLou, as written about on Lorrythetruck.blogspot.com

Our friend Alex applies to anyone thinking of a Kings + Leaders THATLou, of course, as per this adorable photo of our 8 year old Australian Rock Star, Drew, who found him with a punch to the air!  

So here’s the clue:

Bust of ALEXANDER THE GREAT (also known as Inopos)

100 BC, Delos Cycladic Islands (Greece)

Parian Marble, .99 cm

Alexander the Great, or rather his 2nd C BC fragment here, is in one of the Parthenon Rooms quite close to the Louvre Icon Venus de Milo (as a “greatest hit” I bet you’ll find her photo on your map!). Before even delving into why we’ve included Alex in the Arts + Science Hunt, go on over and take 25 bonus points for a photo of your team with Venus de Milo. And take a moment to actually look at her, if you can manage the jostle of the crowds!

Initially thought to represent the Cycladic river-god, Inopos (thus the nickname), this bust of Alexander was found on the island of Delos. It is dated to about 100 BC due to the idealized face (which is similar to that of Venus– in their trepanned hair, similar brow-lines, deep-set eyes and slightly heavy oval faces). Alexander is hard to summarize, there are so many great anecdotes about him. He was both cruel (levelling Thebes, to make as an example to all of Greece) and clever (student of Aristotle, Alex learned about geography, zoology, politics and medicine from the age of 13). Alexander brought scientists with him on his military campaigns and sent plant and animal specimens back to his former mentor.

Though he was a “do-er” (having conquered an empire as far-reaching as India before he died, aged 33), Alex also understood the importance of observation. For instance, His father, Philip of Macedonia bought an exceptionally expensive horse, Bucephalus, who he couldn’t tame. Alexander observed that the horse was frightened of his own shadow, so he bet his father that he could mount him, and indeed he did simply by turning him into the sun. Alex was also able to think outside the box, important to solving problems. An oracle had decreed that whoever untied the Gordian knot (which was very intricate without a starting point as it’d been made of cornel bark and had hardened over time) would conquer all of Asia. Frustrated by the knot Alexander simply sliced it in half proclaiming “I have ‘loosed’ it!”. The Gordian knot has since become synonymous with an intractable problem that requires an unconventional solution.

Alexander is included here, however, because of his considerable patronage to new inventions and scientific research. He understood the importance of time for research and study, and that they needed funding, Scientific patronage cannot be overlooked – and who better to represent this than the founder of Alexandria, the new science capital. (which, after his death, was run by Ptolemy (Alex’s former personal bodyguard) and founded the famous Alexandrian Library, for which a significant part of Egypt’s state budget must have been devoted for the support of science; visitors and staff received free accommodation and a government salary with obligation simply to participate in debate amongst colleagues.  How’s that for putting priority on the pursuit of Science?


POINTS: 40




Ionopos, Louvre.fr

Science-Académie (known as Science-Ac’) was established in 2006 with just a few hundred students. Today this Paris-Montagne Association now stands at 2000 students, enlivening the interest of high school students and pre-BAC kids in Science. Science-Ac was born from the l’Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS is the French equivalent of MIT, for you American readers), and has generational dons or tutors per each level, PhD candidates doing lab work alongside high-schoolers. Their proximity in age no doubt bolsters the inspiration for the students to further their scientific studies.

Here are two adorable opinions on how to conduct a THATLou strategy on You Tube, as described by Drew (8, photographed above) and his sister Zoe (12), hailing from Australia and out on European trip for 4 months.

THATLou Strategy
Who's the King of Bastille Day?
14 septembre 2013
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Who's the King of Bastille Day?


photo by Chirag D. Shah, found on Flickr

So who is the THATLou King of Bastille Day?

So Bastille Day is tomorrow. In America when you hear “Happy 4th (of July)” one thinks of the Liberty Bell in Philly, of the signers of the Declaration of Independence (men in wigs and tights, oh yeah!), a big middle finger to fat Georgie III and that small island across the Atlantic. Flags, picnics, parades. John Philip Sousa. The feelings are happy, independent, straight-forward. Simple. Much like Americans, perhaps. 

But I’m not sure everything is so cookie-cutter clean here (comme d’habitude, the French being the kings of the complicated color: Grey). First of all the very term Bastille Day is exclusively Anglo. Then these “Happys” or well wishing. Well. One (as in: one who is a foreigner who lives here and just doesn’t get it, such as me, I suppose) can say “Joyeux 14 juillet”, but the French often do a double-take when this is foisted on them.

I do most of my THATLou work at a café on Fbg St Denis called Quincaillerie and Damien, one of my favorite waiters there, told me it’s possible to say – as in, grammatically it’s not wrong. I asked him why and he said, “what’s happy about it?” Good point. The date in fact isn’t as clear, the 14th of July is just the beginning of a long struggle of the people. People without rights (“rights come later”, as Damien pointed out) got fed up and stormed the Bastille, a fortress. They had to fight for a remarkably bloody 4 more years, before any significant heads went toppling (literally). As for the complicated question of “rights” well, let’s leave that to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

If I’d made this Bastille Day THATLou completely appropriate to France’s National day, I’d’ve confined the treasure exclusively to the period leading up to & following the revolution, but then our fine treasure hunters wouldn’t get to cover 40 to 50% of the Louvre, which is what they’ll be navigating tomorrow. Moreover, quite frankly the Revolution is a period of French history which bores me. It’s completely lacking in the charms of Henri IV’s lovers or Francois 1er’s Renaissance art commissions.

So to focus on la Fête Nationale, the theme for tomorrow’s hunt is “All Things Gaul, for those who have the gall” hunt. And who had more Gaulish Gall than King Philippe-Auguste?



At the ripe old age of 15 he inherited the throne (in 1180) and over the next 43 years expanded his territory considerably. He was the first of the great Capetian kings of medieval France & destroyed the English-based Angevin Empire which greatly extended his empire. For the first 10 years P-A made his mark on his capital in both good and bad ways (in 1186 he started having the streets paved (much earlier than I would have guessed), however, under his rule, the expulsion of the Jews was in 1182 — they were allowed to return only on condition that they pay a heavy tax in 1198).

But on a larger scale (which will of course bring us back to Paris) he had remarkable military prowess. In 1190 (aged 25, when his first wife died) he left for the crusades & within a year took control of the thorny terrain of Normandie (Richard the Lionheart had been made prisoner of Henri VI in 1194). Following the death of Richard, Philippe-Auguste continued to feud the new King of England, John (who invaded Normandie in 1202, as well as Touraine, Anjou and Poitou). By 1214 Philippe-Auguste had defeated John at the Battle of Bouvines (which was significant enough to force King John to have to sign the Magna Carta).



A page taken from a Cambridge manuscript. I found on a great history quiz site (where they acknowledge the French won) 

On the personal side he was far less decisive. After his first wife, Isabelle de Hainaut, died in 1190 he mistakenly married Ingeburg of Denmark. He tried to undo this mistake, with another perhaps larger mistake. The day after he married the sister of the Danish king he procured the annulment of his marriage by an assembly of bishops and turned around to marry Agnes de Marenie. A move which merited a quick excommunication from Pope Innocent III. By January 1200 Innocent III imposed an interdict on France, which forced Philippe-Auguste to pretend to be reconciled with Ingeburg (in fact he refused to live with her & kept his Danish mistake in semi-captivity. Only when Agnes died in 1213, did he accept Ingeburg as France’s queen (although still not by his side!).


photo taken by Sophie-G.net

In the meantime, tomorrow’s hunters may very well want their “give-away” (I can only get people to read this blog out of thatlou bribery, apart from those who my mother pays. Thank you, Momma), which was promised to them last weekend – so here you go, guys, this will be your bonus question: First find Philippe-Auguste’s conical structure photographed herewith (easy, as its outline is clearly delineated on the map and is the core of Sully, under the Cour Carrée). Apart from being asked to just take in the sheer SIZE of those boulders, you’re reminded that back in the day you’d be standing in water right now – you’re in a moat. So, for an extra 20 bonus points, please have your teammates pose as though they’re being eaten alive by an alligator, the last whisp of life being outside Philippe-Auguste’s formidable structure!

There you go, hunters, Just reading this post you’ve made XX points out (yes, that 20 I just highlighted, but there might be other tidbits that serve as bonus material, herewith!). Until then, have fun at the firemen balls and seeing the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower and not saying Happy Bastille Day!


Photo taken from Kid Culture

Another piece which may just appear in All Things Gaul is Géricault’s Raft of Medusa, as written about in Medusa as Bestiary.
Just Do It!
11 mai 2014
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – Angels & Wings,
  • THATLou – Beauty & Bestiary theme

Just Do It!




Winged Victory of Samothrace: she was meant to be viewed from the right, so the detail of her left side isn’t so well carved – compare to the next photo (photos taken from
www.Wikipedia.org)


The Winged Victory of Samothrace has appeared in many THATLous, from Angels + Wings to of course Beauty + the Beast(iary). A variation of the write up attached to her (below in italics) generally has some sneaky bonus question inserted. As she’s an Icon of the Louvre, her photo is on the map — easy to find making her only 10 game points*. Sometimes the bonus questions request hunters to pose in their photos with their hands as she once had them, cupping her lips as she calls out Victory! With her hand on display nearby within the Daru Staircase (some of her fingers were found in a drawer at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna), it would take hunters a bit of time to actually read the Louvre’s information sheets about her in order to win these craftily embedded bonus points (Or maybe you’ve already read this very post, saving you time on your hunt!). Other bonus questions get involved in her whereabouts, Samothrace being in the Northern Aegean sea, north of Pergamon (an important ancient Greek colony in Turkey that at times became a ping pong ball between the Persians and Greeks).



Nike of Samothrace, from 220 – 190 BC. Please note the exceptional sculpture and detail of her Hellenistic wet-drapery (photo taken from www.wikipedia.org)

The Winged Goddess of Victory / Nike of Samothrace (Nike = Victory in Greek) stands proudly on the prow of a ship, soaring above the Daru Stairwell. She is one of those Hellenistic treasures we all have to study in Art History 101, a piece as noteworthy to the Louvre as the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo. She was found in Samothrace where a sanctuary was consecrated to the Cabeiri (gods of fertility) whose help was invoked to protect seafarers and to grant victory in war. Honouring these gods, they offered this nearly nude Nike made of Parian Marble in a religious act. It has also been suggested that she was dedicated to Rhodes, in commemoration of a specific naval victory. No one is certain of her provenance, however, the partial inscription of the word Rhodes implies the whereabouts of whatever battle she was presiding over.

That said the Archeological Museum of Samothrace contests this Rhodian provenance, maintaining to this day that she was erected by the Macedonian general Demetrius I (aka Poliorcetes) after his naval victory at Cyprus between 295-289 BC. Samothrace was an important sanctuary for Macedonian kings, furthermore her spiral figure also appeared on contemporary Macedonian coins.



Louvre’s Daru Staircase, taken from www.wikipedia.org

Wherever this beauty is from, she was discovered dislodged by the French Counsul (read: amateur archaeologist) Charles Champoiseau (I’m convinced that all British, French and German 19th century Consuls, Consul Generals and Diplomats were required to be ‘amateur archaeologist’ — on the prowl in foreign lands to see just what they could ravage their visiting countries of. Diplomacy was a side business they fit in when they happened to be in town for a cocktail and shower). M Chamoiseau swiftly excavated her, sending both Nike and the prow on which she stands to the halls of the Louvre in 1863.

By 1884 she was holding sway over the grand Daru Staircase and has been there ever since…. Sauf! During WWII. She was removed on 2 September 1939 — to be sheltered in the safety of Château de Valençay (along with other Louvre Icons, Michelangelo’s Dying Slavesand the Venus de Milo), in case Paris saw war. Every time I mount these stairs among the throngs of tourists I think of these evacuating railway tracks (as seen below) and how incredibly lucky the treasures of the Louvre and Paris were not to have bombed during WWII — but also how horribly ironic is was that Nike’s original purpose was to be the first in battle against the Titans, protecting Zeus, and yet here she was hiding out in a Château cowering against the Germans.  Anyway, WWII is subject on France I probably shouldn’t get into. 



Preparing for war in another way, Nike descends the Daru Staircase on 3 September 1939, photo appears on www.wikipedia.com and credited below

The 7th century BC Greek poet, Hesiod has it that Nike was the daughter of Styx (Hatred) and Pallas (God of War Craft); Part of a powerful clan, Nike was sister to Zelos (Rivalry), and Kratos (Strength) and Bia (Force). When Zeus was preparing to battle the Titans, Styx and her brood pledged their allegiance to him. Zeus made Nike his charioteer and proclaimed that the four children should remain by his side always (who’d be stupid enough to turn down the children of Hatred, when it comes to fighting a war?).  Though Nike was a popular theme for Greek sculpture, her story doesn’t really continue past Zeus’s battle against the Titans. 


As for her wonderfully sexy form, with typical Hellenistic material no thicker than cling-wrap, her movement forward is powerful. For a thorough examination of this I recommend this page from the Met’s website for a context and timeline on the Hellenistic age. As per the first photo’s caption, she was meant to be viewed from the right, so the detail of her left side is relatively course. 

The proper pronunciation of Nike is Nee-Kay — Just Say It! 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ (Photo credited to Nicolas de Boyer, published in 1995 by Lynn H. Nichols The Rape of Europa: The Fate of Europe’s Teasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War.New York: Vintage Books)

* You’ll see when we meet for the THATLou briefing, the Louvre map has photos of six highlights per floor on their map. When it’s such a “greatest hit” (my joke term for these Louvre icons) those treasures are only worth 10 game points, as there’s no challenge to finding them. That is NOT TO SAY you don’t want to find these easy-to-find Icons, because you’ll be well rewarded with bonus questions on pieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, or our own Nike of Samothrace.

When things are in bold, usually that’s a hint that they refer to bonus questions…
Birding About at the Louvre
12 janvier 2015
  • THATLou – Angels & Wings,
  • THATLou,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • THATLou – Animals in Art

Birding About at the Louvre




The fact that this painting of a Crowned Crane, also known as the Royal Bird, was painted from life was revolutionary in the 17th Century. Before Pieter Boel (1622 – 1674) animals had mostly been painted from stuffed animals and for their emblems and allegories (Durer being an exception, he regularly painted from the real deal, too).

Boel apparently set up shop in the ménagerie at Versailles, where a small octagonal pavilion was surrounded by enclosures in which exotic and domestic animals were kept in semi-liberty. His paintings, which were nearly scientific, were then used by the tapestry manufacturer Gobelins; this crane, for instance appears in the foreground of the month of August in “The Months” tapestry (aka The Royal Houses). I, for one, prefer Boel’s fine plumage to that of the wall carpets (don’t you think of Persia for carpets?). But one
mustn’t quibble, tapestries are quintessential to France’s history, and as a Charles Le Brun painter (as the animal-expert), Boel played an important role in France. 



Gobelins, found in the 13th Arrt (at the metro station named after it), was Louis XIV’s royal tapestry factory. It was Henri IV (my favourite king, as he fought for his inherited crown for 20 odd years before he just pooped out and converted to Catholicism in order to rule France. As he said, “Paris is worth a mass”) who rented space in Gobelins for his Flemish tapestry makers — more than 200 of them, I believe.

Boel was born in Antwerp, though I’ve had trouble discerning whether the Louvre considers him Flemish or French — he died in Paris, and was a member of Charles le Brun’s team of painters for Gobelins; Although since Flanders was a part of Burgundy, I guess I history blurs the lines of distinguishing whether Boel was Flemish or French. His naturalist studies are all over the Richelieu wing of the Louvre (the most pleasant of the three wings, because it’s 80% less crowded than the Denon wing!) from 17th C France to 17th C Flanders, to adjoining stairwells where these fine parakeets can be found (“room 20” is actually at the top of a rather grand stairwell).



Ooops! Did I say that out loud? What if you go on one of the THATLous? This fine plumage could very well be in an Angels + Wings THATLou, or of course the Animals in Art. Not to mention the fact that Boel’s Versailles role & Gobelins contributions make him a fine candidate for All Things Gaul!  Anyway, to put THATLou and the Louvre aside for just a minute (they does seem to nose its way in everywhere!) both our Indian bull from yesterday’s post and these Flemish French flocks are fine renditions of naturalists paintings. From the Met to the Louvre, India to Versailles, these creatures seemed to prevail in the 17th Century.
Mulling about the Met
21 mars 2014
  • Museum Musings

Mulling about the Met

To close off our new Islamic wings visits, we’re hopping across the pond from London’s Victoria and Albert Islamic Wing to NY. In 2011 The Met opened 19,000 sq feet (1770 m) of space devoted to Islamic art (the formal name of which is so long I’m not going to bother with it here). They haven’t had a new wing devoted to Islamic art since 1975. Worse, still, that was closed in 2003 to make room for the expanded Greek and Roman wing (which is utterly divine, by the way). The irony being, of course that this decision was made 2 years after 9/11, the very same year Chirac was ordering the Louvre’s Islamic collection. At the time plenty of critics pointed out that the west was being given priority so literally over the middle east.


Met, stanboul2000.wordpress.com

Mistakes aside, the Met’s made right and after nearly a decade of debating has invested 50 million dollars to showcase their 12,000-piece strong Islamic collection. Construction started in 2009, in the midst of economic hardship, and this past November opened their 15 rooms.  I would like to have a brief visit with the naturalist painter, Mansur, a fine Indian included in the permanent collection, but just a quick aside:

The Met made an interesting decision to include a 16th century illuminated manuscript folio of the Prophet Muhammad. Thomas Campbell, de Montebello’s replacement, said “we hope that does not become a lightening-rod issue.” I don’t much care for Campbell (basically because he’s not Philippe de Montebello. When I was at Vanity Fair and fearful of losing any cultural education, I volunteered at the Met often, which is when I fell in love with the cadence of de Montebello’s voice and fine lemon-lipped accent. He could be telling the room the sky was blue and I’d find it sublimely insightful), but I respect Campbell for saying that the reason Muhammad is included is because they didn’t want to be accused of ‘ducking’ the issue.



There are tons of pieces to choose from, among them the Damascus Room, an 18th C wood-paneled reception chamber entirely intact, but for now I’d like to have a small visit with this blue bull, Nilgai. It is a page or leaf from the Shah Jahan Album (aka the Emperor’s Album or the Kevorkian Album).



Ink, opaque water color and gold on paper, he’s painted by the “Wonder of his age”, Mansur. During Jahangir’s reign (1605-1627) in the Mughal Empire, the painter Mansur accompanied the Emperor everywhere in order to paint page after page of natural phenomena. I suppose one could argue that Jahangir would have surely been a blogger, because as a copious diary keeper, he also insisted on having drawings to enhance his stories. And nature was his muse. This finely framed, delicate-legged bull antelope is taxonomically correct apparently. I wouldn’t know I haven’t ever seen an antelope, let alone a blue-tinged bull antelope. But there’s something sweet about the fellow. Here’s a real one, though he doesn’t look so blue to me, nor so sweet with those sharp horns.


a real blue bull, aviandiversity.com

Perhaps I was struck by Mansur’s gentle soul because he reminded me of an old friend at the Louvre, Pieter Boel: Another 17th Century naturalist painter, who has made plenty of appearances in plenty of THATLous. Hmmmm. Thoughts for the next post are already bubbling!
Museum Musings at the Victoria and Albert
16 avril 2014
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

Museum Musings at the Victoria and Albert

Largest, Oldest, Most Famous. These adjectives catch my attention. Continuing on this thread of new Islamic art wings at major museums (the Louvre, The Met), we’ve crossed the channel to London’s Victoria and Albert. The centerpiece to the Jameel Gallery of Islamic art, which opened in July 2006, is just that: The largest, the oldest signed, and undoubtedly the most famous Persian carpet in the world. Behold the Ardabil Carpet.



When William Morris, an art referee for the museum at the time (and the grandfather of textile design), first saw the Ardabil carpet in 1893 he was smitten, describing it as “the most remarkable work of art … the design is of singular perfection …”, banging on in delirious delight. Morris didn’t know that it was one of a pair (the other of which is at LACMA in Los Angeles, and was at one point in JP Getty’s possession).



Measuring 10.51m x 5.34m (34.4 x 17.6 feet), it has over 26 million knots of silk and wool. The pair took more than 4 years to weave and were laid on the floor of the burial place of Shaikh Safi al-Din, the founder of the Safavid Dynasty. They were in the mosque of Arbadil (NW Persia) from 1539-40, when they were made on royal commission, till 1890 when they left Iran for England. The inscription of the weaver (who wasn’t really a slave, but probably using the word in humility)

I have no refuge in the world other than thy threshold.
There is no protection for my head other than this door.
The work of the slave of the threshold Maqsud of Kashan in the year 946 (Muslim calendar).



After years of having it hanging from the wall, the Jameel Gallery had it restored outdoors near Wales. A slanted platform was made for it to rest and fresh river water, which is low in minerals there apparently, washed it clean. For some reason this amazes me the most about the Ardabil carpet – that it wasn’t cleaned in a scientist’s restoration lab. It is no longer hanging, but flat, and the V&A have a high-tech non-reflective whoosiwhatsit suspended above it so to protect the 10 colours from damage. Every half hour a dim light is switched on to illuminate it. A precious flash to behold this singular perfection. 



The idea here is that the more you read of this THATMuse blog, the more likely you’ll be to find hints to existing THATMuse treasure… The more you read, the more you’ll win. This Ardabil carpet, however, is an exception. Not only would it be too easy to find in a THATVA, it is too fine to take photos of. Something sacred to even the THATMuse gods!

Except for the NY Times photo, all other photos were taken from the V&A.
Museum Musings at the Louvre
16 mai 2014
  • Museum Musings,
  • THATLou

Museum Musings at the Louvre

So after this bout of considering the Near Eastern Antiquities (from the oldest piece at the Louvre, to huge gentle Lamassus, fearsome Persian griffins and big bulls), what’s more logical than to turn my attention to the Louvre’s imminent Islamic Art wing in the Visconti Wing? It’s been in the making for quite some time. Back when Chirac and his adorable nose were leading France, the NY Times ran a piece on one of the major donors to construct the new wing. Apparently Saudi Prince Walid bin Talal’s donation of million was the largest gift ever made to a museum. Though Prince Walid owns 17% of the not so successful Eurodisney, he also has several luxury hotels in Paris (among them the George V). More interesting to finance people, he’s also Citigroup’s largest single shareholder, so I suppose a million gift is a drop in the bucket. At the 2005 unveiling of the plans for the wing, the French gov’t pledged million, and Total, the French oil company, coughed up a measly .8 million. Anyway, pennies aside here’s the photo the Times ran:



For more than 25 years the Louvre has kept most of its 17,500 pieces of Islamic art, ranging from the 7th to the 19th Centuries, in storage. It has one the world’s most important collections of carpets, as well as Ottoman empire art.



So in 2003, when Chirac was pitting France against its Anglo allies (god bless him – and let’s not forget de Villepin for his delivery to the UN. Have just thrown in a snap of this silver fox for good measure. I hear pretty faces sell) in the debate over the war in Iraq, he ordered the opening of an Islamic Art Department.



Taken from Mario Bellini Architectes

Architects Mario Bellini (Italian) and Rudy Ricciotti (French) won the competition to create the 3,500 meter squared space in Denon’s Visconti Courtyard. The glass and steel structure is the most dramatic change to the Louvre’s neoclassical architecture since IM Pei’s pyramid entrance and inverted pyramid were unveiled in 1989 and 1993, respectively.


Taken from Waagner-Biro.at

The Guardian quoted Mario Bellini in 2008 as saying “the roof is only supported by eight very narrow tubes which are leaning and dancing together and which support the weight of the veil to the bottom of the foundations”, two levels below. Ricciotti has described the 150-ton structure as a “golden cloud”, a more diplomatic description than Bellini’s “headscarf blown in by the wind”, which he said when Sarkozy laid the first stone in July 2008. One does have to wonder if Bellini was taking a small stab at the French for outlawing Muslim headscarves in public schools with such a visceral description.



Published in L’Express.fr on 4 Jan 2012

The Louvre recently announced in a press release that the €98 million wing would open this summer, but Le Figaro reported that the Louvre still needs to raise €10 million. Previously the Visconti Cour was slated to open in 2009, 2010 and now this, so we’ll see. Whenever it does open, getting a glimpse of the nearly 18,000 pieces will be a treat.


Does this look like it’ll be completed in 5 or 6 months? Published in batiacu.com

In the coming days I might linger on new Islamic wings in other museums, such as the Met’s November 2011 unveiling of their 12,000 Islamic works or London’s V&A, which opened the Jameel Gallery recently. I’m straying a bit from THATMuse in these Museum Musing posts, and my training is based exclusively on Western Art (Baroque Roman architecture to be specific), but what fun to consider these Near Eastern treasures! Here’s an article on the Louvre’s Empty Quarter which I wrote for France Today.
Queen of All Things Gaul
16 avril 2014
  • THATLou – Ladies au Louvre,
  • THATLou – All Things Gaul,
  • THATLou- Kings + Leaders

Queen of All Things Gaul



Dragon Lady Queen of France, Marie de Medici, by Frans Pourbus

MARIE DE MEDICI, Queen of France Frans Pourbus the Younger (Antwerp 1569 – Paris 1622) 16th Century, Netherlands

Marie de Medici & Henri IV had a sour marriage: in part because the Bourbon king had a penchant for the ladies (his favorite lover is being naughty in this hunt) & in part because Marie was meddling & power-hungry (it was in her Florentine blood – here take twenty points for naming another Medici Queen, touched on in these pages**). Despite this, they had six children, one of whom would become the Queen of England (Henrietta-Maria, married to Charles I) & another Queen of Spain (Elisabeth, married to the Hapsburg king, Philip IV). After Henri was assassinated (1610) the Parlement de Paris made Marie “Regent” to her young son, King Louis XIII. She did a great deal for Paris, having the Palais du Luxembourg built (based on her childhood home, the Palazzo Pitti, it currently houses France’s Sénat), which she placed in the Jardin du Luxembourg (based on Florence’s Boboli Gardens). If you’d like to learn more about her and these 6th Arrondissement Paris gems we have a Latin Quarter THATRue. But shameless self-promotion and Paris history aside, we’re straying from Marie’s story: when Louis XIII came of age her dragon-queen side had no intention of ceding power. Twice he had to exile his mother (to Blois + Angers, respectively) & twice she staged rebellions (talk about persistent — And against her own son!). Finally by 1628 Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIII’s chief minister (whom she had procured a cardinal-ship for, but as with all those close to her, he ended up becoming one of her many enemies) had her exiled from France altogether. Richelieu (known as history’s first what, again? History’s first Prime Minister is the answer found herewith but not in your hunts! Aren’t you glad you bothered to read this post?!?) was not to be meddled with either: Marie died in exile in Cologne, in 1642 a year before her son Louis XIII died. 



THATRue launch in 2014, in front of Marie de Medici’s Palais du Luxembourg, photo by Lindsey Kent of Pictours Paris…

If you like this blurb on Marie, you can get more on our Latin Quarter hunt!
** After Queen Catherine de Medici, Marie’s elder, was widowed by Henri II, she had the Tuileries gardens built for her Palais des Tuileries (1564); both the gardens and palace got their name from the tile factories which they replaced (tuile means tile in French). The 23-hectare gardens we know today — which connect the Louvre, where the kings lived, to Place de la Concorde, where French monarchy came to an abrupt (and bloody!) end — date to 1664 at the hand of André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. And for all you competitive souls looking to pick up some bonus points, those words in bold up above may just help you on your hunt — and well done on reading up on Louvre treasure prior to your hunt!
Discovering the Oldest Piece at the Louvre
14 mars 2013
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Discovering the Oldest Piece at the Louvre

Yesterday El Argentino and I went to the Louvre to nose about an area we’re both shamefully ignorant of – the near eastern antiquities. I probably couldn’t come up with one of Alexander the Great’s campaigns, and the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers (Mesopotamia, Sumer, Babylon, etc) is buried down deep in my memory. The last time (and first time) I really gave the dawn of civilisation a thought was probably in the 6th grade when we had to study the invention of the wheel, Gilgamesh and irrigation. This last one quite an abstract concept for pollution spouting city kids.

But those early folk, from Cyprians to the Levant in Palestine and Jordan, have provided me with some wonderful THATLou fodder – the Bestiary (fantasy animals, such as unicorns and griffins) THATLou that I’m working on now, especially. And El Argentino, a buff of all things Roman and Greek (be it a military campaign, tragedy, philosopher or amphora pot, he’s your man) feels like he needs to round out his education for when STORSH starts asking questions.

Over the next week I’ll feature a few of the Near Eastern treasures that we came across. And who knows, perhaps one of them just might pop up in one of the themed THATLous!



Meet Ain Ghazal. At 9000 years old, Ain is the earliest work that the Louvre has in its possession. And actually, Ain is only with the Louvre for 30 years. The Jordanians have generously lent him to the Louvre for 30 years (although I thought it was funny that some Louvre curator arrogantly mentioned that ‘this loan would be renewed by tacit agreement’).  32 of these cute little fellows were found in two separate pits, after a 600 meter road was built across the archeological dig.

From looking them up on Wikipedia, apparently some of these Neolithic people buried their dead under the floorboards in their homes (later pulling the skulls out), but most of their dead were just thrown in garbage pits where domestic waste was trashed… Throwing grampa in the trash, hmm… Rather detracts from the allure to these ‘cute little fellows’, don’t you think?
Lamassus at the Louvre
30 novembre -1
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Lamassus at the Louvre

Continuing on the Louvre Near Eastern visit that El Argentino, STORSH and I took this weekend, I thought I’d introduce this rather endearing winged bull-man. Called a Lamassu (meaning “protective spirit” in Akkadian), he is one of a pair who was usually found flanking the doorways to Assyrian palaces. One of the things I find so clever about them is why they have five legs; If you look at them from straight on, they’re standing at attention, still. If you look at them from the side, they’re walking. The British Museum also has two Lamassus, one of which has some graffiti of the board game, the Royal Game of Ur scratched between two of their legs… Guards who were clearly stationed at the gates, idling the time away.

But back to the Khorsabad room in the Mesopotamian section of the Louvre: These guys are somehow comforting, or perhaps what’s comforting is the space they’re in. It smells earthy, I suppose of the gypseous alabaster they’re made of. With the grey-but-bright Paris light shedding in, there’s something intimate about the well-proportioned L-shaped room lined with Sargon’s treasures. And then there’s size. Our friends here stand at nearly 4 and a half meters tall, making me feel. Well. Very human. They’re from the palace of Sargon II, who reigned from 721 – 705 BC; it was square in shape with 158 towers & had a 24-meter thick wall encompassing 3 km². Nothing so piddling as our French Khorsabad room at the Louvre. But sadly we don’t have much of Sargon’s treasure left.



In the 1840s and 50s the palace, named Dur Sharrukin, was excavated by the French consul general to Mosul (yes, of Iraq), Monsieur Botta (and yes, his name is in bold — perhaps an answer to a bonus question?). Heart-breakingly two shipping incidents caused much of the excavations to go missing: one through the boat sinking and the other to pirates. They must have been strong pirates as two 30-ton statues went missing. 

I haven’t done much digging myself, but I do have to wonder why some Indiana Jones character hasn’t gone looking for the ruins at the bottom of the Tigris river, where the first ship sunk.



Anyway, this endearing Lamassu could appear in any number of THATLous. His strong, architecturally-necessary form makes him suitable for an Architecture + Structure hunt, and of course, the fact that he is neither animal nor man, but an imaginary compromise places him in the blurred line of Beauty + the Bestiary (fantasy animals, like unicorns) theme. Or, since two of their three components are animals, I bet they’re also in the Kid-Friendly Animals in Art theme (the purpose of which is to avoid crowds)? Lucky you’re reading this here, to get a leg up (or five!) on your THATLou adversaries!



And where do you suppose you’d find these gentle giants? In the Mesopotamian department (yellow on the map), not too far from the Near Eastern collection’s Ain Ghazal, the Oldest Piece at the Louvre or Ancient Iranian treasures like Darius the Great’s Frieze of Archers + Griffins who are just around the corner in the Sackler collection of the Sully Wing.
The Benetton of Near Eastern Art
19 juin 2014
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The Benetton of Near Eastern Art

Till our next visit to the Louvre, this will be my penultimate highlight concerning last weekend’s visit to the Near Eastern antiquities wing.  It’s been tricky to choose what to profile since El Argentino and I had so many surprises and discovered so many delights.

In choosing this third finale I hoped to find a thread which holds the three completely different pieces, from completely different places together. First we had our rather morbid friend, Ain Ghazal with his silent watchful eyes. He’s from the Levant (which describes both a culture and a geographical area between Egypt and Turkey, Iraq and the Mediterranean), but Ain really stands out, because at 9000 years old he’s the Louvre’s oldest piece. That’s pretty cool.  Then we had our adorable Assyrian Lamassus, curiously smiling down at us as they protected Sargon’s palace. Endearing and gentle, the Lamassus put proportion back in the idea of palace, with their monumental size. 

So with size and age for themes, I nominate Darius I’s winter palace at Susa.  Son of Cyrus, father of Xerxes, Darius I (522-486 BC) was the most successful of the Achaemenid kings. Under his rule the Persian Empire stretched from Greece to India. A melting pot of styles, Achaemenid art is defined by seemlessly combining many elements taken from different cultures. I guess one could think of it as the Benetton of Near Eastern Art. His palace at Susa (east of the Tigris River) celebrated all sorts of his victories, and not just through storytelling as his Greek contemporaries were painting on their pots, but through methods and materials as well.  Darius was big time and he wanted you to know it.  So big-time was he that this entry shall be two-fold, in my weak attempt to do his winter palace justice: art today, architecture to follow. 



King of the beasts, the lion figures an important role both royally and religiously.  A frieze of lions ran along the top of the wall in the first court Darius’s visitors entered. The provenance of the glazed siliceous bricks and its composition as a frieze is from older Mesopotamian traditions, found for instance in the 2nd millennium temple of Kara-indash in Uruk. The repetition of a symbolic animal was typical of Babylonian art, where its significance was more religious. Yet the clear knowledge of anatomy, and the attention to details such as his wavy mane was true to Achaemenid Persian art.  A little artistic UN, all in one palace. By 480 BC it was estimated that 50 million people lived in the Achaemenid Empire.



Sphinx in Darius the Great’s winter palace at Susa, Iran

Apart from these turquoise lions Jacques de Morgan, the archeologist leading the excavations from 1908 – 1913, found bas relief friezes of griffins and sphinxes, archers (with duck heads at the top of their bows) and immortals — among plenty of colossal double-headed columns which we’ll linger on in another post.



a Persian Griffin in the Sully wing of the Louvre

What does that mean for you? Well, a lot of THATMuse points if you know where on Sully’s ground floor (ground floor in French is RDC, Rez-de-Chaussée) to find them in the “Antique Iran” section that’s yellow on your Louvre maps… Oh here, you’re good enough to be reading this THATLou homework, these precious creatures are in Room 12 and 13! 

Apart from appearing in the Beauty + Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly be pertinent to plenty of other THATLou themes – Kings + Leaders, Animals in Art, or even a possible Beauty + Bestiary… You never know!
Big Bulls of Antique Iran
10 décembre 2014
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Big Bulls of Antique Iran

Going out with a bang, I’m concluding our visit to Darius the Great’s Winter Palace at Susa (which in turn sadly wraps up the Louvre Near Eastern musings which started with Ain Ghazal, the oldest piece at the Louvre) with something big! Nearly matching the Louvre’s gentle Lamassus in height, here’s one COLOSSAL capital.



This COLOSSAL capital alone is 4 meters tall, 1/3rd the size of the column that it topped.  Altogether the columns  – 36 columns to be exact* – in Darius’s Apadana (Audience Hall) were over 20 meters tall (meaning about 70 feet ceilings, I think).  The hall was 109 meters squared.  Just look at the size of the beams nestled between the two kneeling bulls: they’re unfathomably large. To help put it in context, El Argentino said that the bull’s eye would be looking straight into our kitchen window – we live on the 4th and final floor of a typical Parisian building dating to 1810. The trek up the 4 flights each day, my toddler Storsh in hand, make me all the more sensitive to such lofty height.



The variations of colour in the capital’s stone is due to the fact that it was reconstructed from fragments of several columns by Marcel Dieulafoy, the archeologist leading the 1884-1886 excavation. To demonstrate the unification of the different parts of Darius’s Persian Empire, influences were taken from all over. The stone masons were Greek and Lydian, and the architects Persian. The double volutes with rosettes was taken from the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, yet the pair of bull protomes are purely Mesopotamian, representing cosmic equilibrium. And let’s not forget Egypt, a significant part of his 50-million-person strong Achaemenid Empire – that basket-like ensemble of palm fronds are a reminder that the Egyptians had been peed on by Darius. Again, just one capital is a Benetton of sorts, a little UN-melting pot of cultures as described in the last post, which mentions which exact room these treasures can be found in… Helpful no?



Besides the bulls, those friezes from the last post may just be THATMuse-applicable! 


On the globe-trotting front, apparently one of these fine bulled capitals has found itself far far away – from Paris or Iran…  El Argentino is from the leafy hood of Palermo, Buenos Aires.  Our favourite part of the 3 de Febrero park, also known as the Bosques de Palermo (the woods of Palermo), is the Rose Garden. Though we’ve been to feed the ducks and picnic in the fragrant green plenty of times, I hadn’t noticed that they have one of these double-kneeling bulls perched in place, above a fluted column. This one is apparently from Darius’s father, Cyrus. In 1972 one of the Pahlavi Shahs gave the 102-ton column to Buenos Aires, for nuclear good-will no doubt (the Argentines had advanced nuclear technology in the 60s and 70s).  Anyway, how this behemoth passed my notice says heaps about how open my eyes are!



La Columna Persa, Parque 3 de Febrero, Buenos Aires


To close this Near Eastern Antiquities musing, I just wanted to say a word on Susa, the town where Darius chose to make his administrative capital and Winter Palace. Also known as Shushan, or in Greek Susiane, Susa shares the “oldest” element that Ain Ghazal opened our Near Eastern visit with:  Susa is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, starting in 4200 BC. There are also traces of a village there around 7000 BC. We think of Egyptian art as old, but the first traces of it were 2000 years later, in 5000 BC.



man standing in foreground for scale

Apart from making a star appearance as Bestiary (fantastical animals, such as unicorns, dragons and griffins, etc), Darius’s palace at Susa could certainly appear in plenty of other THATLous –  such as Animals in Art or Kings + Leaders, what with Darius’s reach (his empire stretched from India to Greece) as mentioned in the last post you never know!

All photos were taken from Wikipedia and Google and are in the open domain. 

* And yes, when things are in bold, often that means it’s going to answer a precious bonus question!
Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo
28 août 2014
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Louvre Icon, Venus de Milo



Aphrodite, known as VENUS DE MILO 

Marble, H 2.02 meters

Island of Melos (Cyclades, Greece), 100 BC Statue


You can’t tell me you’re surprised we’re opening up the Love Hunt with the Goddess of Love, can you? A hands-down top ten Louvre Icon, just look on your map for her snap… 

The identity of the “Venus de Milo” is unknown, as her arms were never found, nor were any attributes. Because of her sensuality and semi-nudity, she’s often considered to be Venus (goddess of love), however, she could have very well been Amphitrite (Poseidon / Neptune’s wife originally, but sadly this goddess of the sea diminished in importance at different junctures of Olympian history). Amphitrite was worshipped on the Island of Melos (Milo), where this Louvre icon was found.

She originally wore jewellery (bracelet, earrings and a headband) of which only the fixation holes remain. Traits which were typical of the 5th C BC, such as the harmony of her face, her aloofness and impassivity, lead some Art Historians to believe she was a 100 BC replica. Likewise, her hairstyle and the delicate modelling of the flesh evoke the works of the 4th C sculptor Praxiteles. But there’s plenty that places her in the Hellenistic period (between 3rd – 1st C BC), such as the spiral composition of her body, the fact that she’s 3D, her small breasts, elongated body and most importantly the thin veneer of material draped from her hips and not quite covering the top of her butt crack. It’s not the cling wrap material of Nike of Samothrace.



Venus’s fixture holes photo taken from from Where is Ariadne? Blog




photo taken from “Where Is Ariadne?”

Whoever this mystery lady is, she’s gorgeous and her ‘top-ten attraction’ at the Louvre status is entirely understandable. If you’re sharp you’ll have earned another thirty points by telling us where Venus de Milo hid during WWII, as discussed in Just Do It … And another fifteen points each for 2 other treasures that hid with her — Not shabby on the bonus question front, eh?


As for the WWII Bonus answer: all of the following treasure was kept in hiding at the Château de Valençay: the lovely Venus, Michelangelo’s Dying Slaves, the Mona Lisa and Nike of Samothrace Every time I go up the Daru Staircase I think of the photo of Nike being evacuated from the Louvre’s Daru Staircase in 1939, as seen in the Nike blog post.

* The Louvre map has photos of six highlights per floor on their map. When it’s such a “greatest hit” (my joke term for these Louvre icons) those treasures are only worth 10 game points, as there’s no challenge to finding them. That is NOT TO SAY you don’t want to find these easy-to-find Icons, because you’ll be well rewarded with bonus questions, as you see above.

When things are in bold, usually that’s a hint that they refer to bonus questions…
Sick Puppies in Rome
12 octobre 2013
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Sick Puppies in Rome

Emperor TIBERIUS, 2nd Emperor of Rome (14 – 37 AD)


Emperor Tiberius, this 6.8″ statues was found in Capri (where he’d retired from Rome)


Stepson of Augustus (first Emperor of Rome), Tiberius was an impressive military man, with several significant battles under his belt. He wasn’t, however, very well suited to civilian life in Rome, where his mother, Livia, insisted he stay toward the end of Augustus’s life (to ensure that he inherit the throne). To further secure this inheritance, Livia also had Augustus (never fond of his awkward stepson) force Tiberius to divorce his wife, whom he loved deeply, in order to marry Augustus’s adulterous – and fun – daughter, Julia. The marriage was a fiasco, however it served Livia’s purpose perfectly. Pliny the Elder named Tiberius the “Gloomiest of Men”.


Second emperor to the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire, Tiberius was a sick, corrupt, perverse man, and very fond of his equally sick, corrupt and perverse nephew, Caligula, who would inherit Tiberius’s throne. From Seneca to Suetonius, Caligula was a depraved, insane tyrant. The latter accused Caligula of incest with his sisters, Agrippina the Younger, Drusilla and Livilla and say he prostituted them to other men. Famously he also is said to have made his horse, Incitatus a consul and appointed him a priest.



Emperor Gaius Caligula, a sick puppy who reigned 37-41 AD. Louvre.fr

The Roman Empire, established just a few Emperors before, was going to hell, until the stammering, stuttering cripple, Claudius inherited the throne (the Praetorian guards named Claudius Emperor in 41 AD after Caligula’s assassination, as he was the last male adult of the Julio Claudian left). He proved to be an able leader, focusing on canals, aqueducts, bridges, balancing power back toward the Senate (after Tiberius and Caligula had purged much of Rome of a voice), and winning many provinces under his reign (Thrace, Pamphylia and beginning the conquest of Britain to name a few). Sadly for the Roman Empire, Claudius was married to another Sour Grape and was followed by nephew Nero (reigned 54 – 68 AD), who was yet another sick puppy. The last of the Julio-Claudian Dynasty.


Emperor Claudius (reigned 41–54 AD), part of the Borghese Collection at the Louvre
The Basanite Babe
11 décembre 2013
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The Basanite Babe



Livia Drusilla, standing marble sculpture as Ops, with wheat sheaf and cornucopia, 1st C BC, Louvre


Livia Drusilla, first Empress of Rome, was indisputably the most powerful woman in the Julio-Claudian Roman Empire. All Julio-Claudian emperors were her direct descendents, despite having a childless marriage to the 1st Emperor of Rome, Augustus (formerly Octavian Augustus, back when there was a triumvirate and Rome was a Republic). This marriage lasted 50 years and by all accounts was a partnership of two clever minds. Livia (58 BC – 29 AD) saw to it that her son Augustus’s step-son, inherited the throne. This, despite the fact that Augustus intended five others to inherit the throne (all of whom happened to die, some under rather suspicious conditions).



Basanite bust of Empress Livia (58 BC – 29 AD), Louvre


Because this bust is basanite (a volcanic rock), it’s believed to have been sculpted just after the Battle of Actium (2 September 31 BC), when Octavian Augustus seized Cleopatra’s kingdom (the loss of this naval battle caused Mark Anthony to commit suicide). This would have made Livia 27 years old, already an able leader just as cunning as her Egyptian counterpart, Queen Cleopatra. 

With senators on both sides of her family, Livia was not only the crème of the Roman aristocratic crop, she also had financial independence from Emperor Augustus (and from her former husband, the father of her two sons) through being granted the ‘marks of status’ in 35 AD, which was rarely granted to women. Soon thereafter she was also granted the sancrosancitas, which gave her the same rights Augustus had.

Tacitus described Livia as malevolent and called her a “feminine bully” and Robert Graves had a ball depicting her shrewd ambition in I, Claudius as the epitome of a scheming matriarch poisoning anyone who crossed her, and anyone who got in the path of her son Tiberius inheriting the throne (though Graves did a great service to widening our BBC knowledge of Roman History, he might have been slightly fictitious). But no one questioned the fact of either her cunning intelligence or her absolute power. Second only to her husband. The Julio-Claudian family tree can be slightly complicated with brothers and sisters marrying (Caligula, for one), but all of the Emperors stemmed from Livia. Tiberius (14-37 AD) was her son, Caligula (37-41 AD) her grandson, Claudius (41 – 54 AD) her grandson, Nero (54-68 AD) her great-grandson.

With so many anecdotes under her belt, Livia is a perfect candidate for plenty of THATLou Themes, from Kings + Leaders to Ladies au Louvre or seen as Ops holding wheat she could even be suitable for the Thanksgiving Food + Wine hunt. Wheat was free in Rome, which is perhaps why their bread is so delicious … 2000 years of practice with the forno certainly shows off! As for her Cornucopia, abounding with fruit, there’s another larger one found two rooms over in this Denon ground floor (Rez-de-Chausse, in French). 

Things in bold are sometimes references to bonus questions…
Trilogy of Death, Part I
15 février 2014
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Trilogy of Death, Part I

The grisly Death Hunt isn’t far from us.  Our Black-Clad Hunters will be tasked to find all sorts of skulls, from Death overlooking 17th C Dutch Vanitasscenes, Egyptian Mummies, Roman Sarcophagi, and there’s even a silver ‘skull clock’, as seen below. To merge the two in a single object makes sense as both time (and the fact that with each passing day, all of our time is running out) and skulls are typical Memento Mori motifs. These scary skull-clocks are a great discovery in the Objet d’Art section of the Louvre – on the 1stfloor, just off IM Pei’s enormous escalator unifying 3 levels of Richelieu (oh boy, I think that might have been a give-away!). Protestant clock-making centers like Blois made a lot of these skull-clocks, a reminder that a handful of Skull Scouting treasures also overlap with the All Things Gaul hunt.



18th century Memento Mori Clock, Paris, Louvre

So which piece of treasure is the king of the hunt, the Master of the Morbid? They’re all so gloriously ghoulish it’s hard to choose which to give-away. So as a process of elimination, which piece is inextricably tied to the history of Paris? 

La Morte St Innocent fits this bill beautifully, both for Skull Scouting as well as “All Things Gaul” as he is quintessentially French. La Morte is the lynchpin of Parisian Death – the epitome of just how macabre Medieval Paris got. Apart from Death’s appearance and adjoining plaque (which reads “There is not a single being alive, however cunning and strong in resistance, whom I will not slay with my dagger & give to the Worms as their Pittance!”) his birthplace is key to setting the tone of central Medieval Paris.



La Morte St Innocents, 16th C French, Alabaster, Louvre


Before examining Death itself, which deserves a post unto itself and will be the third of this three-part series let’s have a look at where he’s from: Cimitière des Innocents which was also the birthplace of La Danse Macabre.



Dance of Death (woodcut) Hans Holbein the Younger, 1491 (German printed edition, folio CCLXI recto from Hartman)


Named for the Massacre of Innocents (St Innocents was the same name of an adjoining church, once facing rue St Denis), Cimitière des Innocents (CDI) had been housing the dead since Gallo-Roman days. Originally outside the city walls, as the city expanded it ended up smack dab in the center of town (where current-day place Joachim-du-Bellay is). It was where rue St Denis and rue Berger meet, and abutted Paris’s famed central Market, Les Halles. In the 12th century it was still a perfectly orderly graveyard, with an individual space allotted per body. By the 13th century it was the graveyard for Paris’s parishes without cemeteries as well as a dumping ground for the dead of the nearby hospital, Hôtel Dieu (which, if facing Notre Dame, is directly to your left – to escape the throngs of ND goggling tourists you can always dip into Hôtel Dieu’s peaceful plant-filled courtyard).  But back to Medieval France – With so many incoming dead CDI was starting to ooze. Soon it would grow to a festering sore, Paris’s pussing pustule emitting ghastly gasses.



image taken from Cadrans solaires disparus  (michel.lalos.free.fr)

How could it not? While Paris grew, the CDI plot of 135 meters x 65 meters did not. Moreover the number of deaths due to famines, wars (100-Years War, the 30-Years War), let alone the Plague were enough to send heads spinning. During several bouts of the plague in the 14th Century an estimated 800 people died a day in Paris, the Plague of 1418 poured nearly 50,000 dead into CDI over a five-week period, in 1466 another 40,000 perished in Paris. With the swelling of such numbers, mass graves were created. They’d leave a pit open till 1500 cadavers filled each crevice, then close it off for the worms to do their decomposing jobs, filling another 1500-body pit just inches over.



Plan de Turgot, de 1730

Imagine the stench of your Saturday morning marketing – how could the Crown allow such (un-)sanitary conditions to co-exist? That’s your Hallowe’en cliff-hanger for the day. I’ll continue this gory CDI glory tomorrow, and shall get us back to the Master of the Morbid! Thus, hopefully, auguring the spirit of Halloween (smiley-face, exclamation mark)! 

Things in bold tend to refer to bonus questions…
Trilogy of Death, Part II
12 avril 2014
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Trilogy of Death, Part II



Fontaine des Innocents, by John James Chalon (1823)


So yesterday we pondered the dead at the Cimitière des Innocents (CDI), once Paris’s largest and oldest graveyard smack dab in the middle of town (where the Renaissance Fontaine des Nymphs, aka Fontaine des Innocents** currently is, near the RER Les Halles station). Our cliffhanger left us off with figures; when space ran out at CDI, mass graves of 1500 cadavers per pit were created. Left open till they were filled (the air must’ve been tangibly disgusting!), they were then closed off and a new one of equal size was dug. With the horror of numbers checked off, what about the business of death?



Plan de Turgot (1730)

Income from each burial – mass or otherwise – went to St Eustache (the large church to the north of current-day Les Halles) after CDI became part of its parish property in 1303 (it was later the property of St-Germain-des-Auverrois, the church just across the road from the Louvre’s Cour Carré). The Bishopric of Paris owned much of the lands and tax rights over central Paris, which caused them to open the marketplace next to the cemetery, so to better monitor the trading and assure that they got their share from the trading. The cemetery was opened to merchants in an attempt to reclaim a part of their monopoly over Paris trade.



St Eustache church with Les Halles in foreground. Taken from WikiCommons, photo by Alfie Lanni (Flickr)


The living and the dead co-existed to a point where a whole genre of medieval art – the “Dance Macabre” – was created on the back wall of the CDI. From an art historical point of view this makes CDI supremely important, as the 15th century Dance of Death was the first and finest known example. Unfortunately the wall was razed in order to expand the abutting road, but there are several Holbein woodcuts as well as French and English prints of it, as well as descriptions.



WikiCommons – Une des 17 gravures sur bois de la Danse macabre du cloître des Saints Innocents à Paris. Publiées en 1485 par deux éditeurs parisiens, Guyot Marchant et Verard, elles furent diffusées dans toute l’Europe. Le seul exemplaire parvenu jusqu’à nous se trouve à la bibliothèque de Grenoble.

Since they were making hand over fist, the Church pointedly ignored sanitary issues repeatedly raised by the Crown. What overflowed as quickly as the church coffers was the GROUND. Skeletons of decomposed dead went to charniers (wall closets lining graveyards, housing bones of the dead), but the cadaver’s fatty residues remained in the earth, leaving greasy mounds that couldn’t process the dead at the rate it was being asked to.  Yet the only modification the church would make was to raise its funerary charges!


The court of Louis XV issued an investigation in 1763 of the neighboring Les Halles commerce. Inspectors recorded local stories of meat that rotted before one’s eyes, a perfumerie unable to sell its wares due to the putrid air, tapestry merchants whose rugs changed color if exposed too long and wine merchants whose barrels yielded only vinegar. Several edicts by various Kings to move the parish cemeteries out of the city were resisted till the situation came to a head in the spring of 1780 after a prolonged period of rain.

On 30 May a cellar wall bordering CDI gave way under the weight of the excessive burials and humidity and spilled a mess of decomposed corpses, thus infecting the mud. Talk about a gush of gore! No horror film could top this. The building was evacuated but not even the thickest masonry could keep the stench of rotting flesh at bay, which finally prompted Louis XVI to exile all parish graveyards outside the city walls (you wonder why Montparnasse, Montmartre and Pere Lachaise are in the outer arrondissements – there’s your answer).



Père Lachaise, photo taken from WikiCommons

By 1786 bones of 6 million bodies were exhumed from cemeteries throughout the city and moved to the catacombs (former mines) out of town, at Denfert Rochereau (in today’s 14th Arrt). Just as a grisly conclusion – Many bodies hadn’t fully decomposed and had turned to margaric acid (fat). This fat was collected and turned into candles and soap. Guess that’ll make you think twice before washing your face with soap!



Paris Catacombs “Stop, this is the empire of death” photo taken from MichaelJohnGrist.com **

Fontaine des Innocents (1547-1550) was built by architect Pierre Lescot (there’s a street with his name in the Les Halles area). François 1er, and later his son Henri II had Lescot transform the old Louvre (originally a fortress under Philippe Auguste) into a palace. The Cour Carré that we see — The Sully Wing’s courtyard – is thanks to Lescot’s designs. Jean Goujon was the sculptor for both the Fontaine des Innocents as well as the Cour Carré. Both also collaborated on the roof of the church across the road, St Germain l’Auxerrois.

La Morte St Innocent will conclude our 3-part Trilogy of Death.
Trilogy of Death, Part III
17 mai 2014
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Trilogy of Death, Part III

In the past few posts I’ve banged on a fair bit about the truly grisly Cimitière des Innocents. First touching on numbers of dead , then covering the business of the death all the while trying to augur the fear & horror involved in a proper Halloween celebration.



Comtesse d’Auvergne, XV siècle France, Louvre


But where’s the dough, you’re probably asking? Our fine hunters need some reward for all the reading they’ve done (although whether you know it or not you’ve been given at least two answers in the past two posts – for both the Skull Scouting hunt as well as if you’re going on an All Things Gaul hunt — as the French are so good at being Masters of the Morbid!). As we’re closer to the final count-down I will cut to the chase and just tell you that our friend Death (as seen below) is on the ground floor of Richelieu in Cour Marly, room 13 (& no you’re not allowed to read this blog post whilst playing – but Room 13 makes sense, no?).



It gets better: This fine female from Auvergne (above) is in the same room as our friend Death (below). She does not have butterflies in her stomach — she’s dead. So what’s eating her up?  Yes, worms are decomposing her corpse in the grisly affair of DEATH! Man, those French! So here’s a cut & paste of the actual treasure clue, as a dead ringer (a dead give-away? — how else can I try to incorporate death in here?!?).



La Morte St Innocents, 16th C French, Alabaster, Louvre


DEATH ST INNOCENT (La Morte St Innocent)

Alabaster, H 1.20m x W .55m x D .27m – from Paris’s Cemetery of Innocents 

16th Century French, sculpture (end of Middle Ages) — Cour Marly


The plaque at Death’s foot reads “There is not a single being alive, however cunning and strong in resistance, whom I will not slay with my dagger & give to the Worms as their Pittance!” Quick take a whopping fifty bonus points with your team pointing to worms in this room – and just look at what they’re doing! Talk about appropriate for this gruesomely ghoulish death hunt! So our friend Death was originally kept in the Cemetery des Innocents (CDI), which was found smack dab in the center of Paris – abutting the market place of Les Halles. The CDI started out as a perfectly orderly graveyard, with a space per individual. But as the city grew, the small swath of CDI (just 130 meters by 65) did not. When space ran out mass burials began to be conducted – up to 1500 dead could be buried in one pit before a new one was dug. Just think about the stench as you’re going marketing right next to this grisly pit of death. Horrible. No one had the sense till Louis XVI moved it from the center of town, and in 1786 our friend Death here was moved first to St Gervais then to Notre Dame, where he is unveiled with his ominous (now-missing) dagger only one day a year. Which was? You guessed it, La Toussaint(All Saints’ Day)!


POINTS: 60


Remember if there are words in bold they may answer future bonus questions — as these treasures can apply to various themes.
Spain's Span Across Europe
11 février 2015
  • Museum Musings

Spain's Span Across Europe


Diego Velazquez, 1634 Medici Gardens in Rome, at the Prado, taken from Wikipedia



The Prado, like the Louvre, takes a bit of context. It is a Royal Collection, and the royalty in Spain was; Well, full of stories, to say the least. The Spanish had an enormous empire, but two provinces of supreme artistic value were Naples and the Lowlands (they had the Spanish Netherlands from 1579 – 1713 – roughly corresponding to Belgium and Luxembourg).

In 1700 the mentally infirm Hapsburg King Charles II of Spain named Louis XIV’s second grandson, Philip (Duc d’Anjou), as his heir. At 16, Philip V (formerly le Duc d’Anjou) was the first of the Bourbon kings of Spain. Needless to say this forged a Spanish-French alliance to the highest degree… which of course off-set a balance of power in Europe, which in turn brought on yet another war. This one aptly called the War of Spanish Succession (1700 – 1715). I will leave a proper background to this for another time, but if you’d like just the lightest touch of context I recommend http://www.spanishsuccession.nl/ (please note the NL in this URL!). Before moving on, however, I’ll include a painting of Charles II to give you a sense of just how mentally infirm he looked, poor inbred man that he was. He looks as contorted, deranged and plain-old-scary as the Appalachians in the film Deliverance.



Last Hapsubrg King Charles II (an argument against inbreeding!), painted in 1673 by Juan Carreno de Miranda, Museo del Prado, www.lessing.com

Suffice it to say the 17th century saw an artistic surge in the Lowlands with Pieter-Paul Rubens (knighted by Philip IV), Anthony Van Dyck and a myriad of wonderful still life painters such as de Heem (as touched on in the post, Food in Art!), all of whom had either a sojourn to Spain or were directly affected by the Spanish crown.

The inimitable Spanish presence in Naples and Sicily (later called the Kingdom of Two Sicilies) had a profound impact on both the Spanish and Neapolitan Baroque. To name just a few big hitters the magnificent Baroque painter Jusepé de Ribera flourished in Naples (though proud of his Hispanic roots, apparently he signed some of his paintings Jusepé the Spaniard”, suitably acquiring the nickname Lo Spagnoletto), Neopolitan painter Luca Giordano was a court painter in Spain for ten years under Charles II (after having studied in Ribera’s studio), Velazquez was sent by Philip IV to Italy, which is considered a turning point in his style.



Caravaggio’s influence on Ribera is evident with such sharp contrast in this 1632 painting, Ticio. At the Museo del Prado, taken from Wikipedia

All of this is really just a laundry list of countries that were miniscule on the scale of Spain’s global dominance (think of a small continent across the pond called South America, let alone the discovery of another small space north of those Peruvian gold mines). But both the Netherlands and Italy were hotbeds of the Baroque, and their inseparable connection and influence on and by Spain has been the subject matter of the lives and careers of many art historians.

In great anticipation of beholding each of these masters at the Prado in person, I’ve had a ball brushing up on some background reading. And in terms of my belly and our little trio alighting a plane fast as a gazelle?  I’m already packed a day in advance – a rare occurrence!
The Prado's Gioconda
08 février 2014
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The Prado's Gioconda




La Gioconda contemporary copy, 1503 – 1516, Museo del Prado, taken from Wikipedia



The other day I touched on Spain’s Span Across Europe in the general. It’s true that Spain’s reach was just so broad that it’s hard to know what to focus on at the Prado (the royal collection reflecting the crown’s omnipresence). However, what’s better to linger on than a hermetically sealed connection between the Prado and the Louvre? And what better represents the Louvre than Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa? It’s a painting I generally avoid – in my treasure hunts, or in person at the museum. Too much hype surrounds her cryptic eyes, too much money spent on magnets with her “enigmatic” smile – not to mention the flocks of publicists who’ve promoted a ‘famous author’, as St Sulpice refers to Dan Brown, and his tours to the Mona Lisa. (and yes I do love St Sulpice for thinking it below them to even name this famous author, resentful of the many tourists who march right past their Delacroix frescoes or Pigalle Baptismal font to find the P/S in the stained glass + Meridian line mentioned in theDa Vinci Code).

But it feels like a knee-jerk reaction to Lisa’s fame to avoid her entirely. So while trawling the internet to soak up all-things-Prado I was truly floored and excited to read about last February’s discovery of a contemporary copy of the Mona Lisa, found at the Prado.



La Joconde’s eyes at the Louvre, Wikipedia

The picture is more than just a studio copy— apparently it changed as Leonardo developed his original composition. Infra-red reflectography images of the Prado version allowed conservators to see beneath the surface of the paint, to the under-drawing. Apparently the two versions were painted next to one another and painted au même temps! Which means the copy must have been by an apprentice in his studio. 



La Gioconda’s Eyes in the Prado’s version, taken from wikipedia


There was a dull black background that left a deadening effect on the Prado Mona Lisa (who’s generally believed to have been Lisa Gherardini, the wife of the Florentine cloth merchant Francesco del Giocondo – thus the French and Spanish name for her La Joconde/Gioconda, respectively). Conservationists aren’t clear on why the black over-paint was there, but believe it was added in the 18th century. 



The Prado’s Gioconda created quite the stir when it was unveiled last March

In 1992 Art Historian José María Ruiz Manero published a paper called “Italian Painting in 16th Century Spain” where he surmises that the painter was Flemish and that it was probably painted in Northern France. Because the Prado version’s wood was assumed to be oak (rarely used in Italy at the time) Northern Europe was an entirely plausible guess. However, last year the panel was found to be walnut, which was used in Italy — as was poplar, what da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is painted on. 

What I don´t understand is why all of the newspapers refer to it as a copy, as in this Guardian article or this Time Magazine piece… If it was painted simultaneously and developed along side Leonardo´s, why isn´t it simply thought of as another painting of the same subject, by a lesser painter?

Even more interesting than this is who painted this Prado version of the Mona Lisa. Though it hasn’t been confirmed (the discovery was only unveiled at a National Gallery (London) conference of conservators, most people seem to believe it was by Andrea Salai, an assistant to and perhaps Leonardo’s lover. More on that for our next visit! 



The Louvre’s Mona Lisa, taken from About.com
Leo's Contemporaries
03 février 2012
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Leo's Contemporaries

Last time we wound our way from considering the Prado and Spain in the general, to zeroing in on a contemporary replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s  Mona Lisa. In our last post we shamelessly lingered on poor Leonardo’s sex life (with the weak excuse of saying “hey, the Prado La Gioconda may have been by this pupil / servant / lover, Andrea Salai, so we better delve into some sodomy charges, right?”).  In so doing we also trashed Leonardo to a small extent to say that THATLou prefers plenty of Leonardo’s contemporaries. In other words, we’ve really been all over the place, from Madrid to Paris, and through Leonardo’s boudoir. Now we aim to turn a slightly more positive note, one which isn’t quite so NY Post Page Six, or Hello!Magazine trashy. And we can also shake this ‘we‘ing. What, do we think we’re royal or something, with all this smut?

Let’s start with touching ever so briefly on some examples of masterpieces by Leonardo’s contemporaries. da Vinci studied in Verrocchio’s Florentine studio alongside Pietro Perugino, Sandro Botticcelli, and one of my all time favourites, Domenico Ghirlandaio. I won’t examine any of these three painters in depth, just want to drop you off with some of their paintings herewith. And then our next post, concerning Andrea Salai, will be the conclusion to this round-about Prado Mona Lisa series. It’s timely to consider Salai, as his paintings may just become a spot more valuable if conservationists decide that the Prado’s La Gioconda was by his hand and not by Francesco Melzi.



Domenico Ghirlandaio, 1490, An Old Man and his Grandson, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

My favourite painting at the Louvre by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449 – 1494) is constantly being lent out. I guess this is a tribute to how good it is, but I find it very annoying indeed when I find the flimsy little paper hand-scribbled by some curator apologising for the fact that it’s gone missing for another few months. It’s a great painting. Despite his grotesque nose, the Old Man’s look is so quiet and calming as he considers his grandson. You can nearly see him thinking.



Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Three Graces, 1483-86, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

Another Leonardo contemporary who I prefer is Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510). Though I didn’t include his Louvre Venus and Three Graces when I was considering various Three Graces in July (including the recently-discovered Three Graces by Cranach ‘s – which is just unsurpassable), I’ll take this complete non-sequitur as a chance to include it herewith. Couldn’t you picture this Venus and Three Graces in at least one THATLou? Perhaps a Ladies at the Louvre hunt, or better still the Love Hunt which is due to take place for couples and lovey-doves the evening of Friday 14 December? 


Pietro Perugino, St Sebastian, 1495, Louvre, taken from Wikipedia

Pietro Perugino (1446 – 1523). He’s a tricky one to choose a fave at the Louvre, because there are so many good ones. There’s always something tactile for me with Perugino. The paint is so smooth and the colors so uniform that he makes me want to stroke the canvas. Anyway, if I have to choose, I’ll go with his St Sebastian (which as a total aside, I was interested with how many St Sebastians we came across at both the Thyssen Bornemiszia, as well as the Prado. Do the Spanish have a thing for him, perhaps?).

After today’s segue-way of some top-tier Renaissance painters, the next post will take a step down (or back?) and worm its way back to the likely painter of the Prado’s version of La Gioconda – and will take a look at Andrea Salai’s paintings. That Little Devil!
The Borghese Beauty
04 février 2015
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The Borghese Beauty

In our most recent THATMuse post we lingered on an introduction to the Borghese Collection at the Louvre. Though necessary, it was honestly a bit sober. So in developing this story line (before getting to the actual crux — an item or two of the collection itself!) I thought we needed some juicy gossip. And what makes for juicier gossip than scandal? It’s hard to top the stories of Messalina, as touched on in a previous post, but Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s sister and wife to Prince Camillo Borghese, certainly comes a close second in “shock” factor. 



Pauline Borghese as Venus Victrix, at Galleria Borghese, Rome, www.wikipedia.org

She was the beauty of the family, 6th of the 8 children born to Napoleon’s parents in Ajaccio, Corsica. At the age of 16, in 1796 (just as Napoleon was starting to make his mark on history, during the Italian Campaign), she fell madly in love with a 40-year old syphilitic philanderer. To distract her, the family married her off to one of Napoleon’s soldiers, General Victor Emmanuel Leclerc (whom Nappy incidentally caught her being let’s say, indiscreet with behind a screen at the Palazzo Mombello in Milano — but I get the idea he didn’t share this morsel with his family).  

Despite having a son by Leclerc (Dermide, whom Napoleon, ever the control-freak, named), Pauline set herself up with many a lover. The family was posted to Haiti, which is where she may have developed her taste for sleeping with black men. It is well documented (a small bit of trivia that I remember from high school when we had to spend time at the Museo Napoleonico in Rome. Just as an aside, these completely un-useful bits of trivia is exactly how my history teachers hooked me on their rich subject) that she was in the habit of having her large black servant, Paul, carry her to the bath every day, and would spend an inordinate number of hours receiving guests from the bath – talk about being hungry for attention! She’d also apparently use ladies-in-waiting as foot servants — literally stepping on their backs.



Portrait of PrinceCamillo Borghese, by Francois Gerard (1770-1837) location unknown, wikipedia.org

Unlike either her older brother (who spent a large part of his life being her PR spin doctor, in addition to being self-appointed ‘Emperor’ of Europe) or Messalina (3rd Empress of Rome and a flagrant hussy), Pauline didn’t seem to have any ambition — her interest was pure frivolity and sex. Eight months after Leclerc died she secretly remarried the handsome Prince Camillo Borghese. This rush infuriated Napoleon (Ironically with such a sister, Napoleon tried to instill a code of good morals. Compare Jacques-Louis David’s Portrait of Mme. Recamier (1800, at the Louvre) to Antonio Canova’s sculpture of Pauline – which at her request was nearly nude and posed as Venus Victrix – 1805-8 at the Galleria Borghese). Throughout her infidelities, there was a modicum of decency and even loyalty about her. Though she swiftly cheated on Borghese — who was forced into selling a large part of his family’s art collection to his nouveau-riches self-coronated Emperor brother-in-law — she also secured Camillo the post of Governor of Piedmont and guardian of Napoleon’s prisoner, Pope Pius VII (two tasks Camillo coveted). And though she caused a lot of trouble for her brother (who adored her), she is also the only Bonaparte sibling to have supported him after he was deposed and sent to Elba. 



British Embassy on rue du Fbg St Honore, taken from flickr.com/eisenphotovideo


In fact according to Alistair Horne’s The Age of Napoleon, she liquidated most of her assets to go and live with Nappy in Elba and better his situation (although she kept her pretty frocks `to make him happy`). Among her assets was a sumptuous little number on rue du Faubourg St-Honore which she sold to the Duke of Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo, and which since then has been the British Embassy of France. Apparently Wellington “gained the respect of the Parisians when, as the victor, he could have grabbed it for nothing, but insisted on paying the full price.



Pauline Borghese’s Paris Palace, now the British Embassy taken from Hector Berlioz’s website

Just as a small reminder – when little morsels are randomly placed in bold, it just may mean that those could conceivably arise as answers to bonus questions. The Borghese Beauty is applicable to any number of THATLous, since the Borghese Collection has the Three Graces (Beauty), wild satyrs (Bestiary), wonderful Craters (Food & Wine), and Roman Sarcophagi (Skull Scouting Halloween Hunt), etc. 


English historian Alistair Horne has written a number of great books on Napoleon and his time. And here’s a good New York Times article about the Borghese Collection au Louvre (no bonus questions – just if interested).
Beauty
08 février 2013
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Beauty



THE THREE GRACES


Roman copy of Greek 2nd Century BC Statue

Marble, H 1.19m (3ft, 10in) x W 85 cm (33 in)


The Graces, according to Seneca, stand for the 3-fold aspect of generosity the giving, receiving and returning of gifts of benefits. Three daughters of Zeus, some identified them as Beauty, Charm and Joy. Many myths had them presiding over banquets and gatherings, primarily to entertain and delight Zeus’s guests.  These are a Roman copy from the Imperial era (approximately 2nd Century AD), after a Hellenistic original from the 2nd Century BC. Nicolas Cordier (1565 – 1612) restored them in large part in 1609 for Cardinal Borghese (Did you catch that? It’s a thatlou hint… that this marvelous trio is a part of the Borghese collection). Napoleon acquired a considerable part of the Borghese collection in 1807 from his impoverished brother-in-law, Prince Camillo Borghese. 344 antiquities in total made their way from Italy to France. Yet another example of how a French monarch (don’t forget Francois Premier pulling over the Italian renaissance) reaped the benefits of Italian artistic talent — and Italian financial incapacity.

POINTS: XX


And remember during the hunt NO looking at the internet – so you may want to remember this Room 17, Ground Floor, Sully Wing address! And while I’m at giving Bonus Question hints away, who do you think is prettier, these Three Graces or the scandalous Paulina Borghese, Napoleon’s sister and Camillo’s wife?

All “treasure” per clue-manual have that up above in bold – the title, period, country of the piece, and when an artist is known, his/her name
.
Messalina- More Sour Grapes
21 juin 2014
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Messalina- More Sour Grapes

Part of the reason the Julio-Claudian family is tricky to follow is because of all of the interconnected (read: incest!) relationships. Roman Empress Valeria Messalina, known as just Messalina (12 – 48 AD), was the third wife to Emperor Claudius; a cripple with a stutter. 10 years his junior, she was cousin to her husband Claudius, as well as cousin to his predecessor, Emperor Caligula, as well as paternal cousin to Emperor Nero (to follow Claudius, and to be his step-son — as well as… you guessed it, cousin!). Lastly (to be listed, as the connections go on and on!) she was the great-grand-niece of First Emperor Augustus. All of them (Messalina, Claudius, Caligula and Nero) were descendants of Livia, 1st Empress or Rome. Incest aside, she was what one would consider a powerful woman – as well as being a lady of, let’s say ‘compromising morals’, and a conspiring lady at that (for which she would eventually be beheaded)



Messalina and Brittanicus at the Louvre, taken from Flickr, Dipity


Robert Graves depicts Emperor Claudius as adoring Messalina for her beauty and youth. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know, but she did bare him two children directly after they were married in 38 AD, Claudia Octavia (who would be the future empress when she married her stepbrother, Emperor Nero) and Brittanicus, who Messalina vied to be the emperor (but she wasn’t so clever as Livia getting her own son, Tiberius, to the throne).  But before Robert Graves, who was writing in the 1930s, we have Roman sources to turn to for the juicy stuff.



Nero (equestrian statue fragment) at the Louvre, Taken from Louvre.fr

Both Tacitus and Suetonius portrayed Messalina as lustful, insulting, disgraceful, cruel, avaricious, etc. They attributed this to her inbreeding. Pliny the Elder tells of Messalina’s 24-hour sex competition with a prostitute in Book X of his Natural History. And guess who won? Messalina, having bedded 25 more partners than the whore Scylla (you may want to take note of this tidbit in case it appears as a bonus point in one of the hunts).

Juvenal was shockingly graphic in his critical description of her brothel, when he described her in Satire VI. He said the minute Claudius was snoring Messalina would put on a blonde wig and go to work at her brothel for the pleasure of it (for PG status I can’t requote Juvenal’s graphic bits), nor can I post the 1527 engraving that Augostino Carracci did for the famous Renaissance erotic book, I Modi (“The Ways”), which depicts various sexual positions. The engraving depicts her in her brothel, entitled Messalina Lisisca, after Juvenal’s poem.

After she convinced her lover, Roman Senator Gaius Silius, to leave his wife Messalina and Gaius plotted to assassinate Claudius and have Gaius adopt Brittanicus (Messalina’s son by Claudius and the presumed future emperor). Claudius caught word of this, and had them both executed for treason. Messalina was offered a knife to commit suicide honourably, but as she was too cowardly for that, she was beheaded on the spot (in the Gardens of Lucullus, which are now a part of the Villa Borghese in Rome, right above the Spanish Steps).



Spanish Steps, taken from citypictures.net

With such a juicy story under her belt, there are many references to her in popular culture – from Charlotte Bronte (in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester refers to his first wife as an Indian Messalina) to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in Love in the Time of Cholera, a dog with many pups bears her name). In Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, Messalina is a guest at Satan’s ball. 



Cuckolded Claudius took necessary measures with his beloved wife; photo taken at the Louvre, from histoire-fr.com


Flexible morals aside, the lady was venally powerful. That is, until she lost her head! Messalina fits perfectly for a Kings + Leaders THATLou, or of course a Ladies at the Louvre THATLou… Perhaps even the Love Hunt might include her – in the carnal sense… Is this hint obvious enough???
Museum Mummies - Games to engage your kids at the museum
18 octobre 2016
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London,
  • Museum Musings

Museum Mummies - Games to engage your kids at the museum


Because my mother was an art historian, we spent at least part of each weekend prowling European painting collections across New York. I grew up in the West Village and associated uptown with The Met and Frick. To keep me quiet, she concocted all sorts of art games, which I’ve been handing down to my 4.5 year old, Storsh (he thinks of the Louvre and British Museum as playgrounds).

She did such a good job of it that I not only got my degrees in Art History, but when I had Storsh, a premature worry set in over what his relationship to art and museums would be. In his first year of life, I started a company called THATLou, which stood for Treasure Hunt at the Louvre. Now awaiting number two, we’re building THATMuse for museums in London. Our soft launch was generously commissioned by the British Museum, where I hosted a “Friday Late” entitled The Art of Play: A Treasure Hunt Challenge, which took place last week, on 11 September.

"Scour the wall of postcards for their five favourite pieces before setting off to find those paintings"

In my experience,children love museums if you know how to engage them. Here are some of my top games to keep them interested when you visit the painting collections.


The Postcard Game

If you’re travelling and it’s a collection you don’t know well, go to the gift shop before you visit the museum and have your children scour the wall of postcards for their five favourite pieces before setting off to find those paintings.

For older children

Ask them to find the paintings featured on the postcards within the museum by looking at the country/century of the work on the back of the postcard and finding it on the map. This will develop their navigation skills and give them a layout of the space.

For younger children

Have them pose as the subject for a photo with each work and postcard. If they’re in the habit of taking photos with your phone, trade roles with you posing as the silliest character in the painting. They will enjoy looking back at the photos later.

The Category Game

Find a bench in the museum lobby before entering and ask your kids to choose an animal, a type of food and something like grotesque noses (Storsh loves this one) as your categories.

"Giving them a sense of purpose helps stretch their attention – and your visit!"

Write your categories down then see how many of those animals/foods/body parts your children can find throughout the visit. All kids like collecting things, and having them keep count by writing a line every time they find their item is rewarding. And of course, giving them a sense of purpose helps stretch their attention – and your visit!

The Fashion Game

Before leaving the house, go to your wardrobe and ask your children to feel a variety of materials – scratchy wool, smooth silk, heavy satin, luscious velvet, soft fur etc – the breadth depends on the size of your wardrobe…. Choose one material or more and (assuming it’s not an evening gown!) wear it to the museum so the kids can look at the collection from a tactile perspective. Ask them whether they think it looks real.

The Saint Game



Every time I visit a museum with Storsh, we latch onto a saint and their attribute and devote our whole visit to finding that saint in various paintings. At 3, Storsh started out with St George, easily identified for killing the dragon from a horse. Each time we found a St George, Storsh would make the wild hissing sound of the dragon blowing fire. Sometimes I’d get on all fours and neigh wildly like George’s horse. The more vivid the enactment, the easier to remember the story.

"Quick, show me what Salome does?"

Slowly, one per museum visit, I added in St Michael and St Margaret, both dragon killers but without the horse. Then St John the Baptist. The bloodier, the better. I tend to quiz him on site, so that his connection to the painting is clear, “quick, show me what Salome does?” Sometimes Storsh draws his fingers across his throat with quick precision for a good beheading, other times he dances – much to the bemusement of the guards.
Paris With Kids: Hidden Outdoor Treasure
14 octobre 2016
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Paris With Kids: Hidden Outdoor Treasure

With many of Paris’s parks dating to the 17th Century, the history of each one is worthy of tomes. One thing they all have in common is seasonal entry hours (generally dawn to dusk), which are posted at entrances. All are packed with history, art and practical playground delights. Here’s a list of Hidden Kid Treasure as well as garden “Spillover” for the whole family to enjoy.
JARDIN DES PLANTES
The Royal Garden Jardin des Plantes was designed by Louis XIII’s doctor, Guy de la Brosse, in 1635. After it was opened to the public, it fell to disrepair until Colbert was named administrator and had the medicinal plants and allées rejuvenated by leading botanists of the day (including Jussieu, whose name graces the nearest metro station).
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: A special treat for Parisian tots is a labyrinth where they can climb in the hallowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents toddle up the spiraling dirt path. The conical maze is hidden behind the Art Deco Winter Garden (serre in French; the hot house is also worth dipping into). With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delightful treat for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your kids run free, as it’s easy for them to get lost in the maze! Or agree ahead of time that they’ll find you at the apex, sitting in the gazebo, so they know to climb up. (Can you tell my 5-year old has scared himself getting lost there aplenty?)
SPILLOVER: The Jardin des Plantes, 23.5 hectares (69 acres), also has an 18th century zoo with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles, and four main galleries comprising the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums.
METRO: Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)
JARDIN du LUXEMBOURG
The terraced gardens of the Left Bank’s Jardin du Luxembourg are a playground for both kids and adults. (You’ll find city-run tennis courts and a canopied area for chess players, as well as the 19th century Rucher du Luxembourg where adults can learn about how to care for bees and harvest honey from the garden’s hives.) The gardens were originally laid out to accompany Marie de Medici’s Palais du Luxembourg, which now houses the Senate. The 1620s palace was meant to replicate the Dragon Lady Queen of France’s childhood home, Florence’s Pitti Palace, and the gardens were inspired by Florence’s Boboli Gardens. The gardens have so many delights for kids (Napoleon dedicated the 25-hectares to the “Children of Paris”), that it’s a challenge to highlight one.
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Since the delicate and discreet Merry-Go-Round is the oldest in Paris, I nominate this for our hidden treasure list. Designed by Charles Garnier, of Opéra fame, this 1879 weather-beaten carousel has the added attraction of having a “Jeu de Bagues”, where kids try to spike iron rings onto their sticks. No easy feat for those older kids on the peripheral circle of horses (and mesmerizing for waiting parents: the attendant re-loads the rings with hands as fast & graceful as a gazelle!). Unlike many of the city’s other carousels, Garnier’s animals swing from above.
SPILLOVER: Too many to name! The 25 hectares host a delightful pony trail, 1920s boats you can stick around the boat basin, a Punch & Judy-like puppet show and one of the city’s best playgrounds, tailored to all ages. (Paid entry, with a guarded gate.) For artsy families you can go statue-stalking as there are 106 sculptures to track, or for photo buffs there’s always a photography show exhibited on the garden’s fences, or of course you can check out the temporary exhibitions at the Musée du Luxembourg at 19, rue de Vaugirard (12€/adults).
METRO: Odéon (line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (line 12), Luxembourg (RER B)
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
The Florentine de Medici family also left its mark on the other major Paris park, the Jardin des Tuileries. After Queen Catherine de Medici, Marie’s elder, was widowed by Henri II, she had the Tuileries gardens built for her Palais des Tuileries (1564); both the gardens and palace got their name from the tile factories which they replaced (tuile means tile in French). The 23-hectare gardens we know today — which connect the Louvre, where the kings lived, to Place de la Concorde, where French monarchy came to an abrupt (and bloody!) end — date to 1664 at the hand of André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. (By no coincidence, le Nôtre’s grandfather had been a Tuileries gardener when it was Catherine’s stomping grounds.) From a kid point of view the Tuileries has plenty to offer, from a wonderful playground with a behemoth jungle gym, popular hammock and roundabout, to two lovely boat ponds for feeding the ducks or pushing the 1920s boats with sticks, not to mention a carousel.
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: It’s easy to miss the sunken trampolines that are off the Tuileries central allée. They’re at about the level of the WH Smith bookstore, between the carousel and Place de la Concorde, yet plenty of Parisian parents don’t know about them. Separated from each other with padded edges, these trampolines cost €2.50 for 5 minutes a pop. They’re available for kids from 2 to 12. (Although my son, Storsh, was too young at 2 to understand what to do other than watch the older kids bouncing like a basketball.) It’s a great way to get their energy out after a morning au Louvre!
SPILLOVER: For the artsy families you can go sculpture scouting for the likes of Maillols, Rodin, Giacometti, or more modern Dubuffet and Roy Lichtenstein. More formally, two museums overlook the Place de la Concorde side: view Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie or stop off at the Jeu de Paume, which often has excellent photography exhibits.
METRO: Tuileries (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)
With many of Paris’s parks dating to the 17th Century, the history of each one is worthy of tomes. One thing they all have in common is seasonal entry hours (generally dawn to dusk), which are posted at entrances. All are packed with history, art and practical playground delights. Here’s a list of Hidden Kid Treasure as well as garden “Spillover” for the whole family to enjoy.

JARDIN DES PLANTES

In the Jardin des Tuileries/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The Royal Garden Jardin des Plantes was designed by Louis XIII’s doctor, Guy de la Brosse, in 1635. After it was opened to the public, it fell to disrepair until Colbert was named administrator and had the medicinal plants and allées rejuvenated by leading botanists of the day (including Jussieu, whose name graces the nearest metro station).
HIDDEN KID TREASURE: A special treat for Parisian tots is a labyrinth where they can climb in the hallowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents toddle up the spiraling dirt path. The conical maze is hidden behind the Art Deco Winter Garden (serre in French; the hot house is also worth dipping into). With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delightful treat for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your kids run free, as it’s easy for them to get lost in the maze! Or agree ahead of time that they’ll find you at the apex, sitting in the gazebo, so they know to climb up. (Can you tell my 5-year old has scared himself getting lost there aplenty?)

SPILLOVER: The Jardin des Plantes, 23.5 hectares (69 acres), also has an 18th century zoo with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles, and four main galleries comprising the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums.

METRO: Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)


JARDIN du LUXEMBOURG


The boat pond at the Jardin du Luxembourg/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The terraced gardens of the Left Bank’s Jardin du Luxembourg are a playground for both kids and adults. (You’ll find city-run tennis courts and a canopied area for chess players, as well as the 19th century Rucher du Luxembourg where adults can learn about how to care for bees and harvest honey from the garden’s hives.) The gardens were originally laid out to accompany Marie de Medici’s Palais du Luxembourg, which now houses the Senate. The 1620s palace was meant to replicate the Dragon Lady Queen of France’s childhood home, Florence’s Pitti Palace, and the gardens were inspired by Florence’s Boboli Gardens. The gardens have so many delights for kids (Napoleon dedicated the 25-hectares to the “Children of Paris”), that it’s a challenge to highlight one.

HIDDEN KID TREASURE: Since the delicate and discreet Merry-Go-Round is the oldest in Paris, I nominate this for our hidden treasure list. Designed by Charles Garnier, of Opéra fame, this 1879 weather-beaten carousel has the added attraction of having a “Jeu de Bagues”, where kids try to spike iron rings onto their sticks. No easy feat for those older kids on the peripheral circle of horses (and mesmerizing for waiting parents: the attendant re-loads the rings with hands as fast & graceful as a gazelle!). Unlike many of the city’s other carousels, Garnier’s animals swing from above.

SPILLOVER: Too many to name! The 25 hectares host a delightful pony trail, 1920s boats you can stick around the boat basin, a Punch & Judy-like puppet show and one of the city’s best playgrounds, tailored to all ages. (Paid entry, with a guarded gate.) For artsy families you can go statue-stalking as there are 106 sculptures to track, or for photo buffs there’s always a photography show exhibited on the garden’s fences, or of course you can check out the temporary exhibitions at the Musée du Luxembourg at 19, rue de Vaugirard (12€/adults).

METRO: Odéon (line 4), Notre-Dame-des-Champs (line 12), Luxembourg (RER B)

JARDIN DES TUILERIES

Playing on a playground hammock in the Tuileries/ photo by Daisy de Plume

The Florentine de Medici family also left its mark on the other major Paris park, the Jardin des Tuileries. After Queen Catherine de Medici, Marie’s elder, was widowed by Henri II, she had the Tuileries gardens built for her Palais des Tuileries (1564); both the gardens and palace got their name from the tile factories which they replaced (tuile means tile in French). The 23-hectare gardens we know today — which connect the Louvre, where the kings lived, to Place de la Concorde, where French monarchy came to an abrupt (and bloody!) end — date to 1664 at the hand of André le Nôtre, Louis XIV’s Versailles gardener. (By no coincidence, le Nôtre’s grandfather had been a Tuileries gardener when it was Catherine’s stomping grounds.) From a kid point of view the Tuileries has plenty to offer, from a wonderful playground with a behemoth jungle gym, popular hammock and roundabout, to two lovely boat ponds for feeding the ducks or pushing the 1920s boats with sticks, not to mention a carousel.

HIDDEN KID TREASURE: It’s easy to miss the sunken trampolines that are off the Tuileries central allée. They’re at about the level of the WH Smith bookstore, between the carousel and Place de la Concorde, yet plenty of Parisian parents don’t know about them. Separated from each other with padded edges, these trampolines cost €2.50 for 5 minutes a pop. They’re available for kids from 2 to 12. (Although my son, Storsh, was too young at 2 to understand what to do other than watch the older kids bouncing like a basketball.) It’s a great way to get their energy out after a morning au Louvre!

SPILLOVER: For the artsy families you can go sculpture scouting for the likes of Maillols, Rodin, Giacometti, or more modern Dubuffet and Roy Lichtenstein. More formally, two museums overlook the Place de la Concorde side: view Monet’s waterlilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie or stop off at the Jeu de Paume, which often has excellent photography exhibits.
METRO: Tuileries (line 1), Concorde (lines 1, 8, 12)

Paris With Kids: Quick Fix Fun for Under 5€
28 juin 2016
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

Paris With Kids: Quick Fix Fun for Under 5€

Apart from being romantic, Paris is also marvelously family-oriented. Despite this, it can be tiring traveling en famille. My son, Storsh, is far more tourist-tolerant if he knows some “kid time” is just around the corner. So instead of making the whole day about the kids, why not plan your days with several bursts of kid-time in between what you want to see? I’ll even give Storsh a few city facts, explaining that I’m going to quiz him on them before his next “kid-time,” and watch his ears perk up a bit. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities, all of which are free or cost less than 5€.
What’s better than free fun? Smack dab in the middle of town is the gorgeous Palais Royal, with Daniel Buren’s stripy stumps that any Parisian kid has raced through. Or there’s always the forest of columns at either end of the enclosed gardens, once Cardinal Richelieu’s residence, where my family and I play a quick game of hide-and-seek when passing through.
Make the outside of the Louvre your playground (before making the inside their treasure hunting ground with a THATLou!). The Louvre’s fountains have wonderful iron fish faces and countless soaring lights, so have the kids count how many they can find across the Cour Napoleon, the courtyard with I.M. Pei’s pyramid, whilst sharing the story of how it housed dynasties of French monarchs before becoming a museum in 1793 under Napoleon. The stunning Cour Carrée, the center of the Sully Wing, is also a go-to for hide-and-seek.
The slanted place facing Paris’ modern art museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, has been a magnet for street entertainers since built in the 70s by architects Rogers & Piano. Let the kids run free as you sit alongside Parisians taking in the inside-out architectural façade. Pigeon- and bubble-chasing is Storsh’s favorite Pompidou activity, but there are also buskers, mimes, and jugglers who’ve kept him entertained for long stretches. Incidentally, the Pompidou also has the best atelier des enfants on the lobby’s raised mezzanine, as well as phenomenal views from the top floor, though they aren’t under 5 euros.
While in the area, don’t miss the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain by Swiss partners Tinguely and de Saint Phalle, where each family member can choose their favorite creature and pose for a photo impersonating these swiveling, water-spouting figures.
If your children are happy to sit still for half and hour and zone out (or tune in!) to some lovely free classical music, there are a few wonderful options in the area. The neighboring 17th-century Church of Saint-Merry has an afternoon series every other Sunday at 5:30pm and the 16th-century Saint-Roch (296 rue St-Honoré) also has a free classical music series on Tuesdays (12:30-1:45pm). If your children are music-oriented (and you’re willing to dish out more than 5 euros), Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie de Paris offers a weekend kiddie music program.
One of Storsh’s favorite activities– and probably any boy of a certain age whose favorite word in English is “gross”– is window gazing at any one of the city’s fascinating taxidermy shops. Deyrolle, located on rue du Bac, is the most famous. Another gorgeous option, often with a stuffed polar bear (which does make me wonder), is Design et Nature in the 2nd arrondissement. But if you want to get authentic – especially if your kids saw the film Ratatouille – there’s also the gruesomely gross Julien Aurouze pest control shop, whose storefront is filled with dangling dead rats in all sorts of contraption traps; its perfectly aged façade reads “Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles” (Destruction of Harmful Animals).
There are carrousels all across town, but I recommend heading to the oldest in Paris, designed by Opéra architect Charles Garnier and located in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Another 19th-century number, which is especially fancy, is the double-decker carrousel – the largest in Paris – at Hôtel de Ville. Alternately, you can find more modern rides, like those at the Villiers metro station near Parc Monceau, or artier carrousels, like the one located near Gare Montparnasse, where Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Manet lining the center panels.
Finally, for scaled-down versions in practical locations, there are also plenty of siren-ringing, traffic-shaking firetrucks or motorcycles that rattle around most covered markets and run one euro/ride.
Deyrolle, 46 rue du Bac, 75007; Métro: Rue du Bac; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 30 07
Design et Nature, 4 rue d’Aboukir, 75002, Métro: Sentier; Tel: +33 (0)1 43 06 86 98
Church of Saint-Merry, 76 rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 71 93 93
Church of Saint-Roch, 296 rue St Honoré, 75001, Métro: Tuileries; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 44 13 20
Philharmonie de Paris, 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019, Métro: Porte de Pantin; Tel: +33 (0)1 44 84 44 84
Julien Arouze, 8 rue des Halles, 75001, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 40 41 08 98
Villiers, Boulevard de Courcelles, 75017, Métro: Villiers
Gare Montparnasse, 17 Boulevard de Vaugirard, 75741, Métro: Gare Montparnasse or Montparnasse Bienvenue
Related Links
Need tips for where to eat with kids in Paris? Have a look at this useful guide from Paige Bradley Frost.
The Jardin du Luxembourg is a great kid-friendly zone. Discover all that it has to offer here.
For more kid-friendly activities in Paris, check out this article from The New York Times.


Apart from being romantic, Paris is also marvelously family-oriented. Despite this, it can be tiring traveling en famille. My son, Storsh, is far more tourist-tolerant if he knows some “kid time” is just around the corner. So instead of making the whole day about the kids, why not plan your days with several bursts of kid-time in between what you want to see? I’ll even give Storsh a few city facts, explaining that I’m going to quiz him on them before his next “kid-time,” and watch his ears perk up a bit. Here are some of my favorite kid-friendly activities, all of which are free or cost less than 5€.



What’s better than free fun? Smack dab in the middle of town is the gorgeous Palais Royal, with Daniel Buren’s stripy stumps that any Parisian kid has raced through. Or there’s always the forest of columns at either end of the enclosed gardens, once Cardinal Richelieu’s residence, where my family and I play a quick game of hide-and-seek when passing through. Make the outside of the Louvre your playground (before making the inside their treasure hunting ground with a THATLou!).The Louvre’s fountains have wonderful iron fish faces and countless soaring lights, so have the kids count how many they can find across the Cour Napoleon, the courtyard with I.M. Pei’s pyramid, whilst sharing the story of how it housed dynasties of French monarchs before becoming a museum in 1793 under Napoleon. The stunning Cour Carrée, the center of the Sully Wing, is also a go-to for hide-and-seek.



The slanted place facing Paris’ modern art museum, the Centre Georges Pompidou, has been a magnet for street entertainers since built in the 70s by architects Rogers & Piano. Let the kids run free as you sit alongside Parisians taking in the inside-out architectural façade. Pigeon- and bubble-chasing is Storsh’s favorite Pompidou activity, but there are also buskers, mimes, and jugglers who’ve kept him entertained for long stretches. Incidentally, the Pompidou also has the best atelier des enfants on the lobby’s raised mezzanine, as well as phenomenal views from the top floor, though they aren’t under 5 euros.



While in the area, don’t miss the whimsical Stravinsky Fountain by Swiss partners Tinguely and de Saint Phalle, where each family member can choose their favorite creature and pose for a photo impersonating these swiveling, water-spouting figures.If your children are happy to sit still for half and hour and zone out (or tune in!) to some lovely free classical music, there are a few wonderful options in the area. The neighboring 17th-century Church of Saint-Merry has an afternoon series every other Sunday at 5:30pm and the 16th-century Saint-Roch (296 rue St-Honoré) also has a free classical music series on Tuesdays (12:30-1:45pm). If your children are music-oriented (and you’re willing to dish out more than 5 euros), Jean Nouvel’s Philharmonie de Paris offers a weekend kiddie music program.



One of Storsh’s favorite activities– and probably any boy of a certain age whose favorite word in English is “gross”– is window gazing at any one of the city’s fascinating taxidermy shops. Deyrolle, located on rue du Bac, is the most famous. Another gorgeous option, often with a stuffed polar bear (which does make me wonder), is Design et Nature in the 2nd arrondissement. But if you want to get authentic – especially if your kids saw the film Ratatouille – there’s also the gruesomely gross Julien Aurouze pest control shop, whose storefront is filled with dangling dead rats in all sorts of contraption traps; its perfectly aged façade reads “Destruction des Animaux Nuisibles” (Destruction of Harmful Animals).


There are carrousels all across town, but I recommend heading to the oldest in Paris, designed by Opéra architect Charles Garnier and located in the Jardin du Luxembourg. Another 19th-century number, which is especially fancy, is the double-decker carrousel – the largest in Paris – at Hôtel de Ville. Alternately, you can find more modern rides, like those at the Villiers metro station near Parc Monceau, or artier carrousels, like the one located near Gare Montparnasse, where Impressionist paintings by Monet, Renoir, and Manet lining the center panels.
Finally, for scaled-down versions in practical locations, there are also plenty of siren-ringing, traffic-shaking firetrucks or motorcycles that rattle around most covered markets and run one euro/ride.

Deyrolle, 46 rue du Bac, 75007; Métro: Rue du Bac; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 22 30 07

Design et Nature, 4 rue d’Aboukir, 75002, Métro: Sentier; Tel: +33 (0)1 43 06 86 98

Church of Saint-Merry, 76 rue de la Verrerie, 75004, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 71 93 93

Church of Saint-Roch, 296 rue St Honoré, 75001, Métro: Tuileries; Tel: +33 (0)1 42 44 13 20

Philharmonie de Paris, 221 Avenue Jean Jaurès, 75019, Métro: Porte de Pantin; Tel: +33 (0)1 44 84 44 84

Julien Arouze, 8 rue des Halles, 75001, Métro: Châtelet; Tel: +33 (0)1 40 41 08 98

Villiers, Boulevard de Courcelles, 75017, Métro: Villiers

Gare Montparnasse
, 17 Boulevard de Vaugirard, 75741, Métro: Gare Montparnasse or Montparnasse Bienvenue


My Insiders's Guide to Paris with Kids
20 octobre 2016
  • Travelling with Kids in Paris and London

My Insiders's Guide to Paris with Kids




When people think of going to Paris, they often think of it as a romantic destination (which it is), but it is also a fantastic place for families and if you’re planning a spring getaway over the Easter holidays, then a quick hop over the channel could be just the escape you need. I’ve lived in Paris for 12 years now and have explored it exhaustively with my 5-year-old son Storsh, who loves this wonderful city as much as I do. Here are some of my favourite family-friendly gems in Paris for you to explore too. You never know, you might even have time for some romance….

Parc de la Villette

Up in the 19th Arr., straddling Canal de l’Ourcq, which hosts the Paris Plages (city beaches) in the summer months, is the reclaimed industrial landscape-turned-futuristic Parc de la Villette. There are plenty of imaginative kid-friendly pieces here, from an enormous dragon slide to a verdant bamboo maze and it is a fantastic place to wander through in spring.

While you are there, don’t miss the amazing interactive children’s museum, Cité des Enfants (closed on Mondays; buy tickets in advance), which sits on the west side of the canal. If you ever manage to drag the kids away, there is an enormous Géode cinema just outside, which shows most of latest I-Max films in an English version too. Also nearby is a real submarine for the boys in your family to explore – my son Storsh’s favorite part!

A new addition to Paris’s cultural landscape is the Philharmonie de Paris, built by Jean Nouvel, which has some great children’s programs (from 3 months-3 years (sound & instrument discovery), to 7 & up (“From Beatbox to Mozart”). It’s worth checking out their website ahead of time (http://lavillette.com/) to find treats such as the Villette en Cirques complete with magicians, acrobats and the lot (Running till 17 April, tickets range from 10€ to 26€).

Metro: Corentin Carious (line 7) and Porte de Pantin (line 5).

Website: lavillette.com

Jardin d’Acclimatation

With Disneyland and the like banned from my childhood, being allowed to go to the 19thJardin d’Acclimatation always made Paris a favourite city of my youth. As it’s out in the Bois de Boulogne (the suburbs of Neuilly) it’s well worth arriving on the “Petit Train”which departs from Porte Maillot (17th Arr.). The toot of the horn and chugga chugga choo choo never ceases to delight Storsh.

The park rides range from standard modern play equipment (target games, a mirrored fun-zone) to more antiquated novel pieces (from the more acceptable TinTin section to a more historic – read possibly objectionable – jungle boat ride with colonialists in pith-helmets & natives sitting in the grass).

With plenty of picnic tables, there’s also a farm-inspired café (and a farm with live farm animals!) or more the modern Angelina for lunch. If you’re going all the way out there, be sure to allot time to Frank Gehry’s fantastic new Fondation Louis Vuitton, replete with concerts, exhibitions and estaurant Le Frank, all nestled into the Bois de Boulogne. Open 10am -6 pm, 5.90€ for entry & Petit Train ticket combined, not including rides which are 2.90€ or you can buy a carnet).

Metro: Sablons (line 1) or Porte Maillot (line 1 or RER C)

Website:jardindacclimatation.fr



Ballon de Paris

Skip the lines of the Tour Eiffel and take in a fantabulous view of Paris from a tethered hot air balloon. Getting you off the beaten-track, the Ballon de Paris rises about 150 meters, delighting kids no end. Anchored to the 1992 Parc André Citroen (which abuts the Seine in the 15th Arr.), the park also has ping pong tables and a fun water distribution fountain that kids can have a good romp through, darting around – or through — the playful water jets. Before heading down there, check the website for wind conditions though.  Fares are 12€ for adults, 6€ for children ages 3-11, toddlers under 3 are free).

Metro: Javel or Balard / RER C Javel or Boulevard Victor (the park’s address is 2 rue de la Montagne de la Fage 75015 Paris).

Website:  ballondeparis.com


Vedette du Pont Neuf

I always recommend planning a Seine cruise before or after a half-day at the Louvre (where you can also take part in one of my THATMuse family treasure hunts at the Louvre) to give the kids a rest from walking & standing. The closest boat to the Louvre has the benefit of being moored off the Pont Neuf (Paris’s oldest bridge, despite its name, “New Bridge”) where there’s a precious little patch of green, Square du Vert-Galant, right on the water’s edge, good for an energy-spending frolic before and after the boat ride – or for a baguette and stinky cheese picnic.

To play it safe perhaps pick up a Jambon Beurre (ham and butter baguette sandwich) in case the kids are resistant to being initiated to any of France’s delicious, but sometimes strong 350 (plus!) cheeses. The boat offers seating outside (upstairs) or in, both areas having a multi-lingual tour of the sites you’re passing over the hour-long tour.

From 15 March- 31 October the Vedette du Pont Neuf runs every 30 minutes from 10:30 am to 10 pm (the rest of the year it runs on the hour). Tickets are 14€/adults, 5€/kids (aged 4-12) when purchased at the dock, but better prices are available online (9€ in the morning, 11€ in the afternoon).

Website: vedettesdupontneuf.com

Jardin des Plantes

The 17th Century Botanical Gardens are brimming with well-documented plants, trees and splendid allées flanking either side of the 23.5 hectares (69 acres). For kids there’s the 18th century Zoo (originally with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles), a delightful Art Deco Winter Garden (a hot house is Serre in French) with glass galleries of exotic plants from all corners of the globe), and of course the Natural History Museum comprising 4 main galleries (the Grande Galérie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums) is a dusty delight. Behind the hot house, kids can burn some energy and inspire some hide-n-seek imagination in the spectacular labyrinth of hollowed-out bushes, crowned by a gazebo.

Metro:  Gare de l’Austerlitz (line 5, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7 & 10)

Website: jardindesplantes.net
THATLou Rules & Tools
14 octobre 2016
  • Hunt Booking Info

THATLou Rules & Tools

ROLES + STRATEGY
There are three main roles for each team: 1) hawk-eye, a lawyer-like soul who picks up bonus questions embedded in
the text (perhaps during strategy this person can skim and underline the text), 2) the navigator, good with a map and 3)
the visually-oriented one, quick to scan an area for your treasure. Kids usually excel at this last role.
For strategy we recommend writing the red # identifying each treasure onto your map, in the area where you expect to
find it (just look at the bold identifying lines in the text and match up the highlighted tags on your Louvre map). Please
note, one can answer the knowledge-based bonus Qs even without having found the treasure. THATLou prep can be
found on the blog (look under the “Category” list for your theme). As for museum navigation: the color-coding on the
map corresponds to the areas in the museum, so if lost you can just look on the walls between rooms for those same
colors (ex: Italian painting = red, Egyptian Antiquities = green). Each room is numbered & those numbers correspond to
the map. You will NOT find all the treasure within 2 hours, done intentionally so that hopefully after your hunt (& a break)
you’ll want to return to find the remaining treasures at a leisurely pace.
Have fun on your hunt and hopefully when you’re done you’ll not only feel camaraderie with your team, but feel an
individual sense of ownership of these great halls and will want to return to actually LOOK at the art (opposed to winning
a game, albeit a great one)!
RULES
1. Concerning the photographs, please only use one phone/camera per team. The photographer can change, but one
camera / phone facilitates tallying scores.
2. Teams must stay together at all times and must not run: If you are seen more than 3 meters apart you will lose 10
points per foot you’re found apart and (!) the team who sees you apart will gain in your lost points! (& yes, there was
just a switch from meters to feet… you don’t want to learn conversion the hard way, stick together!).
3. No external help… If seen speaking to a Louvre employee or fellow tourist you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise,
no using the internet, no GPS, or anything other than an official Louvre map (hardcopy) during the game. No phoning
your Art Historian Aunt for help, either!
4. Must meet back at arranged finish point at precise time (we will synchronize watches and agree to finishing time
beforehand). Each minute late merits 2 negative points - per minute! – but remember, no running Sometimes
there are strategic reasons to be late, but be careful – if you’re more than 10 mins late your team’s ousted (ouch!)
TOOLS + TIMING
A camera/phone per team with fresh batteries in that phone/camera (important point!) & comfy shoes (Photography’s
allowed in the museum, without flash)
The Hunt lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if you opt for this), but we need a minimum of 20 minutes prior to hunting
time for a brief history of the museum, to review rules, distribute hunts, pencils + highlighted maps per team & to allow
teams to strategise. When booking you can opt for “express lane” tickets (22€/adult, kids under 18 enter free):
- Standard Private Hunt (not be met after the hunt, but we provide each team with an answer sheet in a sealed
envelope). You can also ask for “friendly competition” (against another family). 25€/head, not including tickets
- Luxe Hunt (we spy on teams as they’re playing & for a wrap-up at the end to help tally scores & have a lighthearted
prize-giving ceremony). 350€/3 hours (includes Kid Packs, but not entry tix & is for fewer than 6 people)
- Public Hunt (up to 30 people, only scheduled according to holidays, costs 20€/head, not including tickets)
The general rules are quite simple:
Teams (of 2 to 4 people) must photograph themselves in front of as
many pieces of art (treasure) on the list as possible, within the given
amount of time.
The general rules are quite simple: Teams (of 2 to 4 people) must photograph themselves in front of as many pieces of art (treasure) on the list as possible, within the given amount of time. 

ROLES + STRATEGY
There are three main roles for each team:
1) hawk-eye, a lawyer-like soul who picks up bonus questions embedded inthe text (perhaps during strategy this person can skim and underline the text), 2) the navigator, good with a map and 3) the visually-oriented one, quick to scan an area for your treasure. Kids usually excel at this last role. For strategy we recommend writing the red # identifying each treasure onto your map, in the area where you expect to find it (just look at the bold identifying lines in the text and match up the highlighted tags on your Louvre map). Please note, one can answer the knowledge-based bonus Qs even without having found the treasure. THATLou prep can be found on the blog (look under the “Category” list for your theme). As for museum navigation: the color-coding on the map corresponds to the areas in the museum, so if lost you can just look on the walls between rooms for those same colors (ex: Italian painting = red, Egyptian Antiquities = green). Each room is numbered & those numbers correspond to the map. You will NOT find all the treasure within 2 hours, done intentionally so that hopefully after your hunt (& a break) you’ll want to return to find the remaining treasures at a leisurely pace. Have fun on your hunt and hopefully when you’re done you’ll not only feel camaraderie with your team, but feel an individual sense of ownership of these great halls and will want to return to actually LOOK at the art (opposed to winning a game, albeit a great one)!

RULES
1. Concerning the photographs, please only use one phone/camera per team. The photographer can change, but one camera / phone facilitates tallying scores.

2. Teams must stay together at all times and must not run: If you are seen more than 3 meters apart you will lose 10 points per foot you’re found apart and (!) the team who sees you apart will gain in your lost points! (& yes, there was just a switch from meters to feet… you don’t want to learn conversion the hard way, stick together!).

3. No external help… If seen speaking to a Louvre employee or fellow tourist you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no using the internet, no GPS, or anything other than an official Louvre map (hardcopy) during the game. No phoning your Art Historian Aunt for help, either!

4. Must meet back at arranged finish point at precise time (we will synchronize watches and agree to finishing time beforehand). Each minute late merits 2 negative points - per minute! – but remember, no running Sometimes there are strategic reasons to be late, but be careful – if you’re more than 10 mins late your team’s ousted (ouch!)

TOOLS & TIMING
A camera/phone per team with fresh batteries in that phone/camera (important point!) & comfy shoes (photography’s allowed in the museum, without flash). 

The Hunt lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours (or longer if you opt for this), but we need a minimum of 20 minutes prior to hunting time for a brief history of the museum, to review rules, distribute hunts, pencils + highlighted maps per team & to allow teams to strategise. When booking, you can opt for “express lane” tickets (22€/adult, kids under 18 enter free)

PRICES
Standard Private Hunt (not be met after the hunt, but we provide each team with an answer sheet in a sealed envelope). You can also ask for “friendly competition” (against another family), though we can't guarantee this.
- 25€/head, not including tickets.

Luxe Hunt (we spy on teams as they’re playing & for a wrap-up at the end to help tally scores & have a lighthearted prize-giving ceremony).
- 350€/3 hours (includes Kid Packs, but not entry tickets & is for fewer than 6 people)

Public Hunt (up to 30 people, only scheduled according to holidays)
20€/head, not including tickets