“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere” -Van Gogh, The Paris Years

Boulevard De Clichy, Paris 1887

Bonjour toute le monde, ca va? I’ve been with my family the past few days and we’re watching old movies and
reminiscing about trips we’ve taken over the years. My mom has always loved Van Gogh and with the passing of Kirk Douglas it was only natural that we watch Lust for Life the other night. It got me thinking about sweet, sensitive Vincent and his life so I started searching for paintings he created while living in Paris from 1886-1888.

The Parisian Novels, 1887

View from Theo’s Apartment, 1886

He was someone who purposefully looked for beauty. Somewhere between the years of sunflowers and starry nights, he lived with his brother Theo in Montmartre. His Paris works exceed 200 pieces, so it’s incredible that he only sold 2 canvases in his lifetime. What’s also amazing is how fascinated he was by the same things in Paris that we are today. The view from his window, the rooftops, the chimneys, the light…his works are a sort of gentle, visual map of a changing city at a pivotal time. His letters are a real insight into his mental state, personality and true lust for life.

Theo’s Apartment, 1886

View from the Apartment, rue Lepic

appartement-de-theo-van-gogh-rue-lepic

View of Paris from Montmartre, 1886

I love how lush this one is and how we can almost feel the coolness of the green leaves on a summer day. Montmartre is still one of the best places in Paris to find trees outside a window. It’s easy to see why he was so inspired to capture the essence of the day.

View of Paris, 1886

Like a puzzle, we can piece together his two years in the city and understand what his life was like while living there. Such a wild time. It was the Industrial Revolution after all. An incredible era with exhibitions and new inventions, photography, steam engines, a building boom and a world evolving at the speed of light. Painters, writers, sculptors, philosophers, architects and new plans for every corner. It was probably a lot to take in and he was a sensitive, delicate soul. Seems like he may have spent a lot of time looking out the window onto the busy city, just happy to be an observer sometimes.

Paris Rooftops 1886

As much as the rooftops fascinated him, he did go out and when he did was all over the city from top to bottom, sketching and painting every inch including the places we know and love like the Louvre and the Opera.

The Pont du Carrousel and the Louvre, 1886

It’s amazing to see how much was undeveloped. Paris is an ancient city and yet at that time it still had wide open spaces.

View Of Paris With The Opera, 1886

Allee Jardin du Luxembourg, 1887

Avenue in a Park, 1888

The parks were a refuge then as they are now. Some things just don’t change. As a sensitive person he sought out places that provided a quiet solitude.

In the Boulogne Forrest, 1886

He studied the passersby as well at their daily activities, fascinated by the lives and times of typical Parisians.

State Lottery, Paris 1887

The Brothel, 1887

To get away from the bustling commercial center of town, he spent a lot of time just outside the city limits, in Asnières, an area in the northwestern suburbs along the Seine. His paintings show how Paris was developing and progressing, but he was able to find places of silence and simple pleasures by the Seine, enjoying the boats, the restaurants and gardens and open spaces while documenting the development during those two busy years.

Fortifications of Paris with Houses, 1887

It’s truly fascinating to see how open and uncluttered Paris was at the time. He must have looked for places to set up his easel where he could find glimmers of nature. He really leads us through a changing world and must have kept one step ahead of to avoid the confusion and noise. If we look at his body of work as a whole, his main focus is usually on color, light and natural elements. Cities aren’t normally convenient places to find any of that but he sought it out and translated it onto the canvas.

Walk on the Banks of the Seine in Asnières, 1887

On the Outskirts of Paris, 1887 

The Laundry Boat on the Seine at Asnières

Restaurant de la Sirene at Asnières

Restaurant, La Sirene at Asnières, 1887

Exterior of La Sirene at Asnières, 1887

Banks of the Seine at Pont De Clichy, 1887

The Banks of the Seine, 1887

The Banks of the Seine with Boats, Spring, 1887

 The Seine at the Pont de la Grande Jatte

The Bridge of Courbevoie, Paris, 1887

The Seine at the Pont de Clichy

As much as he loved the outskirts he found his way back to Montmartre and that seemed to be his touchstone as it was also home base. Many of his paintings feature the windmills and gardens and vineyards and cafes which were part of everyday life.

Montmartre, Paris, 1886

Vegetable Gardens in Montmartre, 1887

The Hill of Montmartre with Stone Quarry and Windmills, 1886

Terrasse du Café la Guinguette À Montmartre, 1886

Le Blute-Fin Mill, 1887

Le Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Le Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Montmartre Behind the Moulin de la Galette, 1887

Montmartre Windmills and Allotments, 1887

Factories Near Montmartre, 1887

Sloping Path in Montmartre, 1886

Impasse des Deux Freres, 1887

Sunset At Montmartre, 1887

There are so many more pieces but I guess they will have to wait for another day. For now, dear Vincent continues to live on fascinating us with his life and times and beautiful perspective on the places we know and treasure. His paintings never get old and have an innocence that still touches us to this day. I’m feeling nostalgic about him today, wishing he had found peace and love and satisfaction. We know though that he never did, so Iet’s just end with the song that says it all…

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soulShadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colours on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue
Colours changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Oh, now I understand
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen nowFor they could not love you, love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight on that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

Oh, starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
Oh, what you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

February 19, 2020. Tags: , , , . art, France, Paris, Paris Apartments, Van Gogh. 7 comments.

books are a uniquely portable magic – S. King

hello friends, how are you on this wintery sunday night? i hope you’re cozy enjoying time to do the things you love. does it seems that there’s never enough time to do it all? why is it that the more efficient we get technologically, the less time we actually have? it rushes by so fast and life goes at the speed of light. what can we do to make time? i believe there is a way to slow it all down, something i neglected for awhile, what with the glamour and allure of the world on the touch screen. it’s the simple and timeless act of cracking a book.

‘Why Readers, Scientifically, Are The Best People To Fall In Love With”

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”
― Francois Mauriac

the distractions of tv and hand held devices seem to affect a lot of us in the same way. maybe it’s our curiosity for something new, that next image, article, (or potential date)! that keeps us glued to the phone. maybe our attention spans are shorter or we’ve just stopped carving out alone time to curl up in a chair to read.

“Once you have read a book you care about, some part of it is always with you.”
― Louis L’Amour

over the holidays my family gifted me with books and journals. it’s been a long time since we exchanged books and it was a really nice feeling to hold them and fall in love again. it sparked a pinterest search for an image of a woman reading and it revealed wonderful category of art that i never really thought about: the reader. for centuries, artists and photographers have been capturing men, women and children under the spell of a good book. turns out the ways we read are as varied as what we read.

“I kept always two books in my pocket, one to read, one to write in.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson

i don’t want to do a lot of talking about it, i’ve got reading and writing to get to! but i wanted to share some of the images that came up and are bookmarked on my Pinterest Books Board.

it might be a fun to have some of these images together in a book and see what changes through the ages. the positions of the reader, their clothes, the decor, the hairstyles. what doesn’t change is a sort of quiet majesty we as viewers witness and we as readers understand. we read and we learn. we’re listening silently to another’s voice and are hearing a story that is so intimately shared from the page to the mind.


“One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
― Carl Sagan

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
― Jorge Luis Borges

“A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.”
― Astrid Lindgren

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”
― Henry David Thoreau

Franz Eybl – “Reading Girl” – 1850

Un soir d’été à Paris, Cuno Amiet, 1890

John White Alexander Repose, 1895

L. Kokamiagi.Winter.1977

Marguerite 1918 Poster by Guy Rose

Book Quotes

benefits-of-reading

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”
― W. Somerset Maugham

Albert Samuel Anker, 1910

Woman Reading – Antoine Vincent French, b.1956

Carlton Alfred Smith, Storytime 1897

“Books: a beautifully browsable invention that needs no electricity and exists in a readable form no matter what happens.”
― Nicholson Baker

 

well it’s getting late and time to turn in. is there anything you’re reading now that you’d care to recommend? i’d love to hear anything you’re enjoying and how you make time to read in a busy world. sweet dreams!

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” 
― Toni Morrison

January 14, 2019. art, Books, Reading. 16 comments.

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. -Claude Monet

allo! ca va? spring is whizzing by isn’t it? it’s hard to believe may is almost over and we’ll be in full summer mode in just a few days, for me that means planning a trip to france and this year i’ll be going to a many places that i’ve been before but others that i have to admit that i haven’t. i thought i’d start to jot down some of the spots on the to-do list and see how it will unfold. the first on the list is Normandy, specifically Giverny where Claude Monet lived from 1883 until his death in 1926. there are so many gorgeous images out there it’s easy to see why he would devote his life to capturing these magnificent grounds it. i love this one above for its simplicity and sweetness: (Pink cosmos and golden sunflowers tower above Fifi, the calico cat who resides in Monet’s garden, as she strolls down a gravel path in the silver mist of dawn. Photograph by Elizabeth Murray c 1990. From a collection of postcards published by Pomegranate). people and pets have come and gone here but somehow this place has been perfectly preserved for all these years.

maybe it’s the voyeur in me but i love to visit homes of artists, writers and designers. the fact that the french keep these special places for us is truly one of the reasons i fell in love with france. 

if you want to learn more about it, this is a wonderful fondation that works tirelessly year round to keep the gardens and home in perfect condition.

you can actually take a virtual tour here: fondation-monet.com/visite-virtuelle. i’m sure seeing this magical place in person will be more incredible than i can imagine. apparently it was so exquisite that it was almost painful for Monet in a way that i’m sure only those who know the beauty of a garden or even a single flower can understand.

‘Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it’.

-Claude Monet

May 29, 2018. art, Artists, Day Trips, Flowers, France, Gardening, Monet. 10 comments.

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