Friday, May 28, 2010

The "romantic" life

On Wednesday, I had a museum date with a girlfriend to go see the Chopin exhibit at the Musée de la Vie Romantique, or the museum of "romantic life." Despite the images that the name might evoke (not to mention the nearby Pigalle area, host to the infamous Moulin Rouge burlesque shows, sex shops and the Musée de l'Érotisme) the museum has nothing to do with romance, but rather focuses on Parisian life during the romantic movement in art. Indeed, stepping off of the bustling, business-filled streets of Montmartre and into the alley of the museum felt like stepping back in time. As I walked into the green courtyard, it was easy to imagine the days when its ivy-covered cottages still housed the studios and salons where musicians, authors, opera divas and aristocrats shared inspiration over coffee.
As a pianist currently learning/studying Chopin, my friend Clare was primarily interested in the musician and the artifacts surrounding him, including a plaster cast of his slender hand and an antique piano he played on. I was more interested in his longtime lover, George Sand, one of France's first "feminist" (not to mention just female) writers who I gave a presentation on earlier this semester. The exhibit was riddled with portraits and quotes of her and her children, who both played into the 19th century Parisian social scene (not to mention the sudden, violent end of George's affair with Frédéric, which is presumed to have involved her daughter Solange). I couldn't get a photo of the iconic portrait of her they had on display, but here's a copy (thanks, Internet!):
After we had our fill of art, we enjoyed some tea and cake in the garden café.
I loved the cute (if not slightly racist--oh the French!) mitten for the hot metal handle of the théière (teapot), complete with Turkish tasseled fez:
The on and off spring showers kept the crowds away, but we were definitely not the only people out enjoying the resulting flowers.

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