Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Musee de la Vie romantique

Question: What do the Musée de la Vie romantique and the U.S. House of Representatives have in common?

(Hints: It has nothing to do with congressional sex scandals, past or present. It's not about Valentines. The word "Romantique" refers not to romance, of course, but to Romanticism in France.)

Give up?

Answer: Ary Scheffer is the link. The Musée is the former home and atelier of artist Ary Scheffer (1795-1858). Scheffer is most famous in the U.S. for the portrait of his friend the Marquis de Lafayette. The full-length Lafayette portrait has been proudly hanging to the right of the rostrum of the Speaker of the House for almost 170 years, the companion to Washington's portrait.

Think of it this way: for almost two centuries, every lawmaker in the House has contemplated Scheffer's Lafayette portrait while debating and voting on legislation; Lafayette has gazed benevolently at the Senators and Representatives sitting in the House for each State of the Union address.

But even if the French-American connection doesn't sway you, the Musée de la Vie romantique is well worth a visit in its own right. Tucked away on rue Chaptal in the 9e arrondissement, it houses a splendid collection of paintings, furniture and memorabilia from the Romantic era, including a sizable collection of George Sand objets. The house's period interior, decorated by Jacques Garcia, is richly evocative of that era. As part of the Musées de la Ville de Paris network, the museum offers free admission to its permanent collection. In addition, for a few euros you can view the temporary exhibits in the atelier. A highly acclaimed exhibit of the golden Age of German Romantic Art is on display there now.

And once the Paris weather becomes springlike -- which I dearly hope is soon -- I look forward to returning to the Museum's enchanting garden terrace cafe. For lunch, brunch, or tea, it's one of my Parisian outdoor favorites: fragrant, quiet, charming, inexpensive.

Musée de la Vie romantique
Hôtel Scheffer-Renan
16 rue Chaptal
75009 Paris

tél. : 01 55 31 95 67
Métro Saint-Georges, Pigalle, Blanche, Liège
Bus 67, 68, 74

Open Tuesday - Sunday 10 am to 6 pm.


smilnsigh said...

"...from the Romantic era, including a sizable collection of George Sand objets."

Oh sigh, I'd so love to see those!

And possibly, this was featured in an issue of the old/original 'Victoria' magazine. I'll have to do a search, because if so, I think I have that copy of that dearly beloved magazine.


Polly-Vous Francais said...

The collection of George Sand memorabilia and portraits is charming.

I'd love to see the article in Victoria magazine.

The Late Bloomer said...

Ah, this was one of my favorite museums back when I was a college student in the '90s... And believe it or not, I haven't been back in AGES! I've been dying to visit this museum again, because I was a bit of a Georges Sand afficionado in college, and I've always loved tracking down her history and reading more about her artistic circle. Impromptu is one of my favorite movies ever!

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