Hello! I promised myself I’d blog this month. There is so much to catch up on!
I’ve been away from Told You Sew! for so long because of work, kids, and, well, life. I increased my working hours some time ago and it’s been harder to weave creative/crafting time into my days; I also took on a volunteer role during the school year. This summer, I’ve been lucky enough to travel. It was fantastic and restorative, but it certainly cut into my “productivity”!
It did, however, provide lots and lots of inspiration. I was astonished by how much gorgeous creativity I saw. My most recent trip focused on Paris, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast, and Venice. SO MUCH ART! So much color, so many layers of history and artistic vision over so many centuries! I’d like to share a little bit of that with you over a few installments.
This was our very first stop:
Jet lagged, we made our way to the Musee de Cluny in Paris, home of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries. (The museum, in the Latin Quarter, is now more formally known as the Musée national du Moyen Âge.) It was worth it. My two daughters and I occupied the room in that old medieval palace that houses the six tapestries for what seemed like hours, pouring over the tiny details embedded in these stunning works. The smaller animals, such as the monkey and dog, are rendered with intricate light and shade. The kind unicorn figure has always been a favorite of mine (ever since I was a horse-loving youngster) and the lion, with its tongue thrust out, seemed more a dandy than a danger. The women’s garments are depicted in such dimension and color. This is amazing fabric art, and so surprising to think that this tapestry series was made so very long ago, in around 1500… I also am intrigued by the beautiful necklace the lady is holding. My own passion for jewelry as an art form has only grown keener over the past two years. (More on that soon.)
We also had the chance to visit Eugene Delacroix’s studio.
A truly monumental painter in the French canon, Delacroix made dramatic canvases that struck a chord with my family. The color! The emotion! The tragic violence! The celebrations! I think his paintings would make for the subject of some great movies (and far better than films about video games!)… On the less violent side, I especially love his painting of a Jewish wedding in Morocco with its vivid dancer:
One unmissable stop for art lovers is clearly the Louvre, the Pantheon of traditional European art. We of course had to view the Mona Lisa, but my daughters were quite underwhelmed after fighting crowds to get to the front of the crowd to see the relatively small painting set behind glass and a barrier with a very wide birth… and protected by numerous guards. As I was taking this photo, I was being crushed by waves of people you can’t see behind me.
Really, it’s much more enjoyable viewing lesser-known works of the Italian Renaissance. The Louvre has whole galleries of them no one is looking at. Take this one, my absolute favorite, of two Venetians. Please don’t try to tell me these guys aren’t just as mysterious as Mona (or maybe I could just see them better):
The girls preferred the large-scale marbles, both ancient and modern. In fact, they were most taken with the 19th century pieces by Italian and French artists… many of whom no one outside the word of art history knows about today. But they are lovely indeed. And imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
How do you like these Three Graces? My husband snapped this artsy shot and I turned it black and white. It seemed to merit that kind of classic treatment.
Who is that modest young thing?
And then you find the more unusual forms of art that have been pursued over the centuries in Europe, tucked away in corners in more obscure venues. This display of miniature portraits was hidden in an 18th-century museum we visited:
As we strolled the streets of Paris, a very different kind of French art beckoned to us…. Unfortunately I felt my waistline would not allow an indulgence, though looking back, I wish I had! (We did sample some outstanding macarons in lovely colors, but I ate them too quickly to take a photo!)
I plan one more Paris installment in this travelog… one that relates to my crafts, I promise. Very soon!