Fool for France


This afternoon I went to the Jacquemart-Andre Museum to see the special exhibit on Perugino. The paintings were on loan from the Vatican. They were quite lovely, as you might imagine, but there weren’t enough of them to fill out a show. The Vatican kindly topped up the supply by throwing in a few by his student, Raphael. Well, that was nice of them.

My favorite painting was a bust of a modestly dressed, affluent, beautiful young woman, ostensibly a portrait of Mary Magdalen. It was a rare thing, a character study of a female. So often we are portrayed in some role or other.
Perugino, bless his heart, could have shown her in mourning or looking like your basic fallen woman and, instead, gave us a look into the soul of an individual. That painting alone was worth the price of the whole show.

For me, the only trouble with seeing a great painting in a museum is that you can’t live with it. You can’t watch the light change it or see how you react to it when your mood changes. There is only the 30 – second pause before you move on to the next one. The best you can hope for is that you will be able to revisit the painting or find a reproduction, and live with that.

Me, I’m living with this old house, 24/7. When I wasn’t communing with the Magdalen I was looking at the museum, which is a converted house. I realized that although they dressed everything  in Beaux-Arts clothing, they did what they wanted with the space. The photo is of a reception room. It has light, windows, a hole in the ceiling, columns, curves, whatever they felt like doing. I had been concerned about some changes that will go against the accepted canon of how one modernizes a traditional space. I was pleased to be reminded that the only thing that matters is that the finished work holds together. Now let’s hope it does that.

4 Replies to “Jacquemart-Andre Museum”

  1. I am certain that you will pull it all together into something simultaneously classic, honoring the house and its history, and all together new and spectacular!



    1. Gerard, you are so optimistic. That’s why I’m glad you keep reading. I’m choosing light fixtures now. So many great choices, but which are right for the house? Which will I still be happy about in a year or so? And how much light do they actually provide, all alone in those big rooms without 85 other fixtures to help them out? French shelter magazines show some ghastly options and they got published, so who ever knows, really? I’m just pleased this is the biggest worry I have right now.


  2. I agree wholeheartedly with that last paragraph. Tougher for you because you can fix the date and style of your house.
    But regardless of that , the house is yours now and you should have around you what is beautiful to you and what works for you.
    Houses always evolve.

    In the end , all that really matters is that you love it.


    1. Aw, you’re such a fan. Don’t ever stop reading and commenting, seriously. I’m at a point where I need fans, more than you can possibly imagine.

      I’m about to head down there, now. I hope I can take some photos that show what gives this house its character, the geometric purity of it all. Do I go with it or play against it? Can I get away with doing both? Of course I want to try for both. We’ll see.


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