Monthly Archives: November 2009

Day 117 – Saturday, November 7th, Paris, France

We got up early to enjoy our last breakfast together in Paris.  Nick, Lisa and A.J. all left via the train that morning.  Russ and I went to the train station to help Nick and family load all their luggage on the train (babies need a lot of stuff) and to say our good-byes.  They took the train from Paris, France to Amsterdam, Holland which was about 4 or 5 hours, then they boarded their plane home to Vancouver.  It was a long day but they made it just fine according to Nick’s email.  

 

After the train station, Russ and I visited the Rodin Museum.  There was an exposition of Matisse and Rodin which examined the parallels between these two artists. We both preferred Rodin’s style and were surprised at how many sculptures he actually did during his lifetime. Rodin was born in 1840 and died in 1917, at the age of 77. During his early teens he attended art school in France. At the age of 18 he started working for sculptors, decorators, ornamentalists and jewelers. Rodin soon branched out on his own because he did not like it when another artist’s name was engraved onto his work. Apparently, Rodin started his art career sculpting figurines used to decorate buildings and churches.  Later when he was famous people would commission him to do their sculptures. Rodin used real people for his models and he would first sketch them by not looking at his paper.  As his models moved he continued sketching. This technique allowed him to capture the movement of muscles in the human body.  From these sketches he would make his sculptures. (The whole process is very complicated, first sculpting a clay figure, then casting a mold, then pouring in metal and eventually finishing the bronze statue by polishing and removing the seam marks of the mold). Rodin was so good at his craft that he was accused of casting a mold from a real life. 

 

In 1864 when he was 24 years old he met Rose Beuret (aged 20), who became his life-long companion. They had a son together in 1866 but unfortunately for everyone, Rodin never recognized him as his son. In 1883 Rodin (aged 43) met Camille Claudel (aged 18) who became his student and mistress.  She was an excellent artist and under Rodin’s tutelage , eventually sculpted the hands and feet on many of his figures. Apparently, hands are the most difficult pieces to sculpt.   In 1898, they broke up and she did her most famous sculpture called “Maturity”. This is a sculpture of a young nude woman kneeling down and stretching out her hand to a man who is walking away with another woman. Camille sculpted the other woman as much older, wrinkled and ugly but the man is still leaving the younger woman with the older woman.  This sculpture represents Camille and Rodin’s breakup and the fact that he chose to stay with Rose Beuret. After their breakup Camille led a life of destruction and in 1913 was committed to a mental hospital where she remained until her death many years later. Question, did the breakup cause her to go insane or was she borderline when Rodin and her had their affair and that is why he left her?

 

In 1902 Rodin met another woman, Rainer Maria Rilke, a poet who became his secretary. Frankly this guy was a womanizer!  Poor Rose who stayed with him, even when he did not recognize their child as his?? I guess to perfect his nudes he needed to see and test out the different models available. Much like going to school, his education was achieved by  testing out different women and noting how their body parts worked.  Anyway, Rodin finally married his life-long companion, Rose Beuret on January 29th in 1917 unfortunately she died February 14th of the same year (they were married 16 days)!  Rodin also died that same year in November. Rose and Rodin are buried together in Meudon and their tomb is dominated by his statue “The Thinker”.

 

Some of the most famous pieces by Rodin are: “The Thinker”, which is a nude man sitting and leaning forward with his elbow on his knee and his hand bent towards his body holding up his head under the chin; “The Kiss”  which is very erotic and the bust of Victor Hugo. Rodin also did a bronze gate called “The Gates of Hell” which used many of his sculptures in different positions. One of his earlier pieces completed when he was 25 years old was a sculpture of a young girl with a hat.  Ironically, we have a copy of that sculpture (not an exact copy but a very similar copy) at Abigail’s Hotel. 

 

For lunch Russ and I went to a favourite restaurant of mine, Pino’s on Champs-Elysées. I love this restaurant because they have a second floor which looks over this famous boulevard which allows you to people watch while you eat a great meal. Dinner that evening was quiet with just Sandy, Ray, Russ and I.  We all missed A.J., Lisa and Nick! And of course because we were leaving Paris in the morning Russ had to show Ray and Sandy the Bois de Boulogne. This park is world famous for it’s illicit sex romps with prostitutes and transvestites standing at the side of the road barely concealed in the bushes of the park.  The park is 900 hectares and located very close to our hotel so we took a cab ride around the park before retiring for the night. 

Day 116 – Friday, November 6th, Paris, France

 

– Happy 79th Birthday Virgie, Mom, Grandma and G.G. (Great-Grandma)! Hope you had a great day!

 

 

For us on the journey this day was a free day in Paris.  The girls went shopping and cut the boys loose to do what they wanted. We took little A.J. with us.  He has been such a good baby this whole trip!  First we rode the metro and went to our old stomping ground in Paris just because Lisa and I already knew what shops we liked.  We walked for hours up and down the streets of Paris, starting at Place des Vosges and moved toward Arc De Triomphe. We bought shoes, jackets, skirts, tams etc.  A perfect day for the ladies!  Later in the afternoon we stopped at a cute French restaurant for lunch and A.J. received a lot of attention from the servers.

 

Russ and Nick went to the military museum in Paris and spent most of their time at the de Gaulle exposition. Russ thinks that de Gaulle has been given more credit than he deserves in this exposition.  What Russ found interesting was the development of the military equipment through the ages and the fact that similar equipment was developed in several countries at the same time.  For example, chain mail was used in England, Eastern Europe and the Middle East all in the same era. They went to the museum cafeteria for lunch. Russ had a small baguette with salami and cheese, Nick had spaghetti that was already prepared in bowls and just  nuked in the micro-wave to heat. Both had bottle water and their bill came to $50.00 Canadian, ouch!

 

This was the last night with Nick, Lisa and A.J. so we all had to perform our songs.  We walked to the restaurant for dinner. Paris is alive with people any time of the day or night so it is always fun to walk where you want to go. We arrived at a big French Restaurant with separate dining rooms.  They put us in a room with two other tables and every person in our room spoke English.  (It must have been the English speaking room). Altogether, there were three tables of people and we ended up all talking and getting to know each other.  At one table was a mother and daughter who had come to Paris to shop and spend time together. (Great idea, Athena and I have done this as well). The daughter lived in San Francisco and was a mother of three children. Her mother lived in New York, they were having a wonderful time in Paris.  At the other table, were three women all from Ottawa. They were in Paris on business and worked for the Canadian government.  We were very happy that the room was small and every one could understand each other because we were about to perform for our group and sometimes this can be a little embarrassing. (But that has never stopped us, we do it anyway).

 

We performed our songs for the whole room and they were a big hit.  The ladies sang to the tune of “This is our land, this is your land” (from Beijing, China to Paris, France, etc.) and the men sang to the tune of “You have to know when to hold them, know when to fold and know when to walk away”.

 

A great day for all!!

 

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