Paris Musings & Vermeer at The Louvre

I sat in cafes, walked for hours, rested and observed the VV (very very) chic locals in the petite parks, nibbled on yummy desserts (heavenly macaroons!) at Ladurée, sipped très cher cappuccinos in the lovely bar at Le Meurice and The Ritz Garden.

Just opened at The Louvre, an exquisite look at Vermeer’s masterpieces.The exhibit  travels to The National Gallery in D.C. in October until March 2018. Five years in the making, “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” presents a third of the Dutch Golden Age master’s gift to art lovers. It is the biggest such collection of the old master’s work in Europe in almost two decades. Visiting the Louvre until May 22, on to Ireland and eventually Washington DC.

Dutch genre paintings of the period 1650–1675 rank among the pinnacles of Western European art. While Johannes Vermeer is currently the most renowned painter of such scenes, the Delft master was only one of many artists of the period who excelled in capturing everyday surroundings in exquisite detail. Other major genre painters included Gerrit Dou, Gerard ter Borch, Jan Steen, Pieter de Hooch, Gabriel Metsu and Frans van Mieris. These artists frequently drew inspiration from each others paintings and then tried to surpass each other in verisimilitude, technical prowess and aesthetic appeal. This vibrant artistic rivalry contributed to the exceptionally high quality of their combined collections.
Vermeer’s subjects, compositions and figure types owe much to works by artists from other Dutch cities. Vermeer also freely borrowed from artists from Dordrecht, Leiden and Amsterdam. In turn, genre painters from outside Delft adopted stylistic and thematic elements from his work to elevate their own compositions. Thus, rather than presenting Vermeer as an enigmatic artist working in isolation, the aim of this exhibition is to highlight his relationships with his contemporaries.

This exhibition invites visitors to take on the role of seventeenth-century art lovers and compare small groups of paintings that reflect the cross-currents of inspiration. Visitors will also be able to observe that artists had individual ways of inserting, changing and disguising their borrowings.
Begin here and consider adding to your arts date book with ballet or opera. If Opera Garnier is available during your visit, it is not to be missed; the building alone, instigated by Emperor Napoleon III, is an opulent, ornate statement, a monument to French style, capped by it’s Marc Chagall painted ceiling.

Art is sometimes found where you least expect it.

Picasso Museum Paris

Fall has arrived in Paris and with the gray fading light comes the reopened Picasso Museum. Closed for expansion in 2009, the reopening was delayed due to bulging budgets, staff firings, and a multitude of problems – without some dramatic elements, how would this be the City of Light? Accustomed to strife, history teaches us that Haussmann managed to renovate Paris again and again under Napoleon III.

Portrait of A Woman With A Hat

Portrait of A Woman With A Hat With Pompoms And A Printed Blouse

Always a popular museum, and with the expansion, it is now twice the size; I am certain Monsieur Picasso would have enjoyed the maneuvering. Containing over 400 Picasso works, it also includes pieces of his personal collection: Degas, Cezanne, Miro and Matisse. He might have been described, in current colloquialisms, as a hoarder – never letting go of his notes, ephemera from lovers and abandoned lovers. Upon his death in 1973, his family donated a vast amount of his archives to the French government to avoid paying estate taxes. The museum collection contains much of the archived materials.

Critics complain the interior is choppy, the collection is displayed in a peculiar arrangement of subject matter and inaccurate time framing of the works. Don’t let the critics influence your visit.

Since I haven’t visited this week, I cannot comment. Other than imagine Picasso in a typical Gallic shrug: Je n’y peux rien.


The Picasso Museum is in the Hôtel Salé, 5 Rue de Thorigny, Paris;