Wednesday, September 20
Statue of the French writer, Ferdinand Fabre,
by Laurent Honoré Marqueste (1903) in the
“L’Effort,” by Pierre Roche (1898), was
originially to be installed in a fountain.
It is inspired by one of 12 feats by Hercules: The turning of rocks in the river Alphee to
wash the stables of King Augias. Its
originality resides in the use of materials:
Reinforced lead for the statue and ceramic stoneware for the
rocks. This statue is in the northwest
part of the
Yesterday we spent the entire day at the Twenty-third Bienniale Antiques
Exhibition at the Grand Palais. It
cost 15 euros each to attend, but it was worth it. This international show is no ordinary
antiques show. Many, if not more than
half, of the pieces are museum quality.
There were 102 booths, and almost half of them contained
paintings. There were many original
works by Renoir, Picasso, Miro, Degas, Delacroix, Pissaro, Corot, Max Ernst,
Andy Warhol, and one single Sargent, and much more. There were real Asian antiquities (about
which we know something), and plenty of African art (about which we know
nothing). Of course there was
beautiful 18th century European furniture. The prices were staggering.
Often, the provenance is provided on the cards that explain each
piece. Sometimes the provenance made
me sad. For example, there was an
enormous, larger-than-life 18th century painting of the
And then there was a large set of upholstered, gilt-framed, 18th
century chairs and sofas that had been in a chateau under the ownership of
just two aristocratic families. It is
a beautiful collection. And now, after
many generations, it is out of the chateau and up for sale.
There was one 1915 painting by Giorgio de Chirico called “Oreste e
Pilade.” The price? A cool $8.5 million.
We were a bit surprised that there were no Oriental rug dealers at
all. There were a couple very old
Aubusson rugs that were made to look like Turkish rugs, but that was
all. And we did not see any people in
traditional Muslim attire at the show.
That, too, seemed strange. I
don’t think that the omission of Oriental rugs was accidental, and I’m sad to
think that the organizers of the show might be a bit racist.
How could there be so many wonderful, decorative objects from all over
the world, but no antique Oriental carpets?
But the show was so full of wonderful, beautiful things that I felt
overwhelmed at the end of the day. We
had walked over to the Grand Palais, were on our feet for 5 or 6 hours, and
we walked home. So we were pretty
Nevertheless, we made it out to dinner again at l’Espadon Bleu, and once
again Jacques Cagna came to our table for a brief chat. He remembered us from last week. So did the maitre d’, who recalled that we
prefer to have the menu in French and to speak in French, and he remembered
what we like to drink.
A few nights ago, we had a not so pleasant dinner at an old standby
resto, Bistrot Aux Charpentiers, on rue Mabillon. This entire neighborhood north of us is
full of restaurants that are full of people.
We’ve concluded that they no longer have to be good to make
money. People seem to come anyway, and
the restaurants pack them in tightly, then serve mediocre food.
It is better to venture out just a little bit, to a place like L’Espadon
Bleu or to a reliable and good brasserie like Le Pré aux Clercs, where we’ve
now had two excellent lunches and one excellent dinner.