Enjoyed the busts; I always like meeting new people, and snapping the name for subsequent research. Behold, the inventor of Le Parte Cheveaux Avec Beaucoup De Pomade:
It's Hank Rochefort, "Prince of the Gutter Press." Shall we? We shall. Skip if you like, but I think knowing this sort of stuff - or at least spending a minute with the biography to get a taste of the flavor of the era - is worth it.
His father was a Legitimist noble who, as Edmond Rochefort, was well known as a writer of vaudevilles; his mother's views were republican. After experience as a medical student, a clerk at the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, a playwright and a journalist, he joined the staff of Le Figaro in 1863; but a series of his articles, afterwards published as Les Français de la décadence, brought the paper into collision with the authorities and caused the termination of his engagement.
After a second prosecution he fled to Belgium. A series of duels, of which the most famous was one fought with Paul de Cassagnac à propos of an article on Joan of Arc, kept Rochefort in the public eye.
He fought a duel over an article about Joan of Arc. Those were the days. He kept starting newspapers, getting imprisoned, starting another one, getting shipped out of the country, fined, and so on. After many years he started another journal, L'Intransigeant. No kidding. More:
For a short time in 1885-86 he sat in the Chamber of Deputies, but found a great opportunity next year for his talent for inflaming public opinion in the Boulangist agitation. He was condemned to detention in a fortress in August 1889 at the same time as General Boulanger, whom he had followed into exile. He continued his polemic from London, and after the suicide of General Boulanger he attacked M. Constans, minister of the interior in the Freycinet cabinet, with the utmost violence, in a series of articles which led to an interpellation in the chamber in circumstances of wild excitement and disorder.
First of all: everything here meant nothing outside of France. It hardly matters to anyone now. It mattered tremendously, then. The Boulanger story is rather timeless, though; a royalist and an army man, he commanded the loyalty of a certain sort of Frenchman. Suicide? Yes - at the grave of his mistress. Very dramatic. The papers loved it; they ran illustrations of the Tragic Scene.
Here's yer plus ca change for the day:
Boulangisme: (...) 'a vague and mystical aspiration of a nation towards a democratic, authoritarian, liberating ideal; the state of mind of a country that is searching, after the various deceptions to which she was exposed by the established parties which she had trusted up to then, and outside the usual ways, something else altogether, without knowing either what or how, and summoning all those who are dissatisfied and vanquished in its search for the unknown.' (...) 'General Boulanger was born out of this state of mind. He did not create the boulangisme, it is boulangisme that created him. He had the chance to arrive at the psychological and spiritual moment from which he profits." (Arthur Meyer in Le Gaulois, 11 October 1889)
Well, good to know we're past all that.
That's what you learn from one face in a side corridor of an old train station. How about the artist? "Aimé-Jules Dalou (31 December 1838, in Paris – 15 April 1902, in Paris) was a French sculptor, recognized as one of the most brilliant virtuosos of nineteenth-century France, admired for his perceptiveness, execution, and unpretentious realism."
Oh, you can cite me if you wish.
Some faces are quite arresting, staring out over the silent plains of the bygone decades:
Frank Guilloise, "magazine editor and theater administrator." Perhaps the artist, Eugène Guillaume, is more interesting . . . no, not really. Let's look at some paintings. Turned up my nose at Gaugin - no love for that smelly goat. Saw a few old friends, and enjoyed a good collection of Pointillists.
That's what you see when you get close. Step back:
A details of Seurat I'd never seen, not that I'm familiar with the entire body of work:
With a half-hour to go before closing I stumbled upon an exhibit of a guy you won't find in the big books about the big names: a 19th century painter named Gleyre.
Never heard of him, but there are so many we haven't heard of. They weren't the top-line guys with the big Academic rep and the awards and commissions. They had peer respect, got some nice jobs, won some money here and there. They had some students - in Gleyre's case, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Whistler. His first major work was so scandalous it could not be shown. Two Roman brigands bargaining over a woman while her husband, tied to a tree, glares murder at them, knowing what they will do.
The Musee has a website up about the exhibit, here, although it doesn't even come close to standing in front of the works. He said, smugly.
The exhibition was deserted, because he's not on postcards or mugs. Everyone coems to the Orsay shouting SHOW ME THE MONET.
And that was it for the day - Notre Dame, the Shoah Center, St. Chapelle, Musee D'Orsay. Enough, right?
On to Montmartre. Or rather up.