Artistic Gems in the heart of Paris
France arguably takes the mantle for being the greatest presence in European Art during the nineteenth and early twentieth Century. The wealth and variety of art on offer during this time was startling and any major ‘movements’ during that time and the canonical names of modern Western Art most likely found their origins in the cultural Vanguard of Paris. Dominating our considerations of the Parisian art World are the Museum Monoliths which house an unquantifiable collection of French Art, such as the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay. To limit yourself to these admittedly brilliant galleries however, is like dieting on steak alone; delicious but restrictive. When in Paris, you should dine on the metaphorical Smörgåsbord of galleries on offer; and don’t just fill yourself up on a hearty main. In this article I will discuss two of the more quaint galleries Paris has to offer, reflective of the immense repertoire of art produced in the City. As Paris is widely known as the City of love, I will focus this article on ‘Romantic’ art galleries perfect for couple’s retreats. What I mean by Romantic art is soon to follow, but rest assured I will recommend Paris at its best; intimate and breath-taking.
Musée de la Vie Romantique.
Musée de la Vie Romantique refers to the movement of ‘Romanticism’ that spanned European art, music and literature in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Romanticism however isn’t wholly concerned with heart-wrenching arias about the visceral longings of star-crossed lovers. Romanticism isn’t concerned with courtship, marriage and a happily ever after.
Romanticism focuses on the depth of human experience and attempts to negate the emphasis on rationalism that coincided with the age of enlightenment. Romanticism propagates an aesthetic style that is centred on transmitting the feelings of awe, anticipation, horror, isolation and the majesty of nature.
The building of the Musée de la Vie Romantique acts as a countermeasure to the drama of the art it houses. Located at the foot of Montmartre Hill in the IX arrondissement of Paris, the Museum is a preserved town house of the Nineteenth-Century painter and disciple of Romanticism, Ary Scheffer. That also means that the interior is a time capsule to the tastes of a ‘romantic’; evocative furnishings including ornate candelabras and nostalgic artefacts belonging George Sands, the love interest of the Romantic composer, Frederic Chopin showcase what it would be like to live in the Nineteenth-Century. Of course, the museum also includes works of the house owner, Ary Scheffer and these paintings are exhibited in the first floor alongside the compelling works of his Romantic contemporaries.
What also makes this hidden gem gleam is the courtyard and garden dining, where the refined sensibilities engaged with the experience of authentic Romanticism are rewarded with refined and delicious baked goods. Here you’ll ponder on your trip with that tantalising stimulus of authentic Parisian quiche and pastries.
The Musée de la Vie Romantique is an ideal destination for those looking to get lost in the City of Love, quaint, peaceful and charged with the evocative art of the Romanticism movement, the museum is a must for couples and cultural explorers alike.
Musée national Gustave Moreau.
Similar to the Musée de la Vie Romantique, the Musée national Gustave Moreau is a preserved building from the Nineteenth-Century. However this museum is dedicated not to capturing the mood to a movement but serves as an exhibition space that was established and designed by the man whom the building was named after, the underappreciated Gustave Moreau. Moreau was a ‘symbolist’ painter, and suitably painted in a style that was akin to Romanticism but with added fantasy. Symbolism is French movement that was conceived in the late Nineteenth-Century and undercuts its ‘fairy-tale and folklore’ imagery with the stark moral attitude present in Romanticism. The museum does an excellent job of highlighting this, the Musée national Gustave Moreau is laced with Moraeu’s personal mythologies every nook, cranny and display is imbued with the fables and literary and biblical stories that ignited the painter’s imagination.
A trip to the museum is like a trip through the mind and inspirations of an authentic Parisian artist. The museum is fittingly the most eminent place in the world to engage with the world of Moreau, in between the grand paintings of fictional epics are the preserved apartment rooms in which Moreau used to prepare his work. The Museum is unique in the way it arms you with an intimate look at the artist’s inner sanctum yet a look at many of the artist’s masterpieces in their fully realised form; this is a unique privilege. Not only is a visitor rewarded with a vestige of the past but a way of displaying art that is centred on the immersive world of the artist.
For a step back in time, and a look back into Moreau’s imagined past, take a trip to the Musée national Gustave Moreau. The narratives, painterly technique and themes employed by Moreau are enriching, though-provoking and sensual; all of which I’m sure will inspire affinity for every visiting couple.
It’s easy to feel a part of the crowd in Paris, where the siren call of the stunning City attracts millions of annual tourists. In this case, it’s easy to miss out on any intimacy and romance amidst the heavy footfall of tourism.
If you visit these hidden gems however, you will dive into the cultural heart of authentic Nineteenth-Century Paris and enrich yourself with captivating painting that promotes a serenity wherein you can focus on your affections for art and your affections for each other.