Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November Still Life

On a dark November evening, packing up my most prized possessions, I find myself poring over my stash of French magazines that are older than I am. I flip through images of dramatic, vivid 50's fashion advertisements, photographs of outdated Renaults and mechanical devices, and portraits of statesmen, socialites and artists long departed.

In a 1954 issue of Plaisir de France, I come across this image in a review of an exhibit at the Galerie Charpentier.

It murmurs. It sighs. It whispers "November" to me. The painting, entitled Pain et Vin Blanc, is by Georg Flegel (1563-1638).

It's the grey that beckons. So many variations on grey. Matte, soft, shiny, muddy, pearly, mushroom, muted, pewter, cloudy, silver greys.

This reminds me of Paris in November. The grey -- no, the many many greys -- are exquisite this time of year. Daylight can't find an edge. Tree bark, cobblestones, sky, building cornices, the Seine: are all in subtle shades of grey begging you to stop and notice.

So hard to describe. The grey is anything but bland or boring. The nuance is moving.

Apparently the Yup'ik language doesn't really have 200 words for snow. But I think the French language shoud have a thousand words to describe Parisian grey.


BJ Lantz said...

What a lovely post. I too have enjoyed the many shades of gray in Paris. I'll look forward to your book one day. Thanks for sharing this today.

Anonymous said...

That is quite an interesting painting!

Lora said...

How much time do you have left, Polly? (Sigh...)

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I'll be here for another week, but I may make a return trip shortly thereafter. Too many loose ends.

And it's a terrible way to say goodbye to Paris, all this rushing around and dealing with STUFF!

I do love the grey in Paris. In November. But by the time March rolls around I've usually had quite enough thankyouverymuch.

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