A tale of three cities

A Paris sky. The Eiffel tower as seen from the Trocadéro, across the Seine. Summer 2022

A gentleman from Punjab maybe? A restaurant somewhere in Marylebone, London. Chicken Tikka Masala was excellent.

Brussels, at the Mont des arts. A monument to rectitude? No. The statues are called “Musique et chant”, Music and song. By Oscar Jespers. 1960. (Wonders of Google search. Merci Gilles.)

Urchins are the new black. Montmartre.

“Je ne vois pas la … cachée dans la forêt”. I don’t see the … hidden in the forest. Magritte museum, Brussels. This is part of the Surrealist Manifesto, published in 1924. All founding members are photographed with their eyes closed. No caption in the museum though. Now, looking closer I could identify: top row, 3rd from left, André Breton, founder of the movement. Left column, 2nd from the top, a young and slender Salvador Dalí. Right column, 2nd from top: Paul Eluard, the author of “Liberté j´écris ton nom.” (Liberty I write your name), and last but not least, right column, 2nd from bottom, René Magritte, Belgian artist.

The closed eyes pictures was (were?) a brilliant idea. I could not identify the others. I hope the museum will do something.

Wheatfield with cypresses”. Vincent Van Gogh, 1889. National Gallery, London. Few have mastered the art of light as he did.

“Il dépend de celui qui passe que je sois tombe ou trésor, que je parle ou me taise. Ceci ne tient qu’à toi, ami. N’entre pas sans désir.” It depends on who passes by whether I am tomb or treasure, that I speak or remain silent. Friend do not enter without desire.

Same statue as the first shot, another angle, with a view on the Palais du Trocadéro. A monument of Art Déco. The inscription was meant for the then “Musée de l’homme”. Alas its fantastic collections were pilfered by the Quai Branly museum. The inscription remains. (Paris, 2022)

Art déco, Brussels. Going up on the Mont des Arts. The statues of Music and song are to the right.

Transportation museum, London. in 1914, as WWI started and all men were called to war, many of their jobs were taken by women. “Shocking idea” for the time, right? Women occupied many positions in the London underground. Successfully, I might add. Then, after the war, end of 1918, beginning of 1919, men came back. And women were sacked. I believe it is the appropriate word. Sacked. This picture was taken in1919, where one woman after the other got her “good bye” letter from a bespectacled gentleman. Bang, bang, thank you ma’am? (Pardon my French). Do read the letter below addressed to a Miss Shrubsole:

“…your services will not be required…” From July 18th to 27th, it was a week’s notice, wasn’t it?

The joker. South of Paris. A “city” of street art under urban highway bridges surrounded by construction sites. Great art, but the environment was a bit spooky… (More on a later post.)

“L‘intelligence”. Verstandhouding in Flemish. Interesting, ‘verstand’ means ‘to understand’, if I’m not mistaken. So ‘intelligence’ would mean ‘to understand’? Can we have a bit more of both, please? René Magritte, one of my many favourite painters, was the Belgian “member” of the Surrealist movement. Great artist. Make sure to visit the Magritte museum when you go to Brussels. (Painting date: 1946. Right after the war.)

“Embroidering the earth’s mantle”. Remedios Varo, 1961. Tate modern gallery, London. Varo was a Mexican artist. She and Leonora Carrington were distinguished members of the Surrealist movement. This painting was part of a tryptic. Already showed one… (One more to go…)

Jacques Brel (1929-1978). No trip to Brussels would be complete without paying homage to Brel. “Le plat pays qui est le mien.” The flat land that is mine…

Jeanne d’Arc. Petit Palais. Paris. By Emmanuel Frémier, 1875. A rather unique interpretation of Joan of Arc. On her knees, praying.

Laure Diebold. As I mentioned before, many mailboxes in Paris are decorated with portraits of great figures of French history. Laure Diebold was a member of the French Résistance. She was Jean Moulin’s secretary until his arrest and execution. She was arrested and deported to Auschwitz. She was not even thirty years old. She was on the verge of dying of typhus when the camp was liberated by the American troops in 1945.

July 1946, Laure Diebold is decorated of the Order of the Liberation by General Legentilhomme. One of only six women to become members of the order. Hubert Germain, the last companion of Liberation recently died. He is buried at the Mont-Valérien. The Order is now extinct. Ms Tina Turner, I beg to differ: we do need other heroes…

“Whaam!”. Roy Lichtenstein. 1963. Tate modern. London. That was 60 years ago. I guess we’re back there now, aren’t we? (I tried to see if I could smuggle it out of the museum. No dice. Too large…)

“Bus stop! Bus stop!… please share my umbrella…” Paris, 2022.

Thank y’all for riding Equinoxio’s Underground. Some of you may know I’m a total failure at Dickens. Never got past the first few pages of “Little Dorrit”. Makes a big hole in my résumé. I might try “A tale of two cities” (London and Paris. I took the liberty of adding Brussels.) I do have great expectations about discovering Dickens… 😉

Until then, allow me to take you to another Bus stop:

88 thoughts on “A tale of three cities

  1. Avec plaisir, Brieuc des Équinoxes !
    Après une petite recherche, j’ai trouvé que le sculpteur de la femme du Trocadéro est Daniel Bacqué, Finalement, Maillol n’était pas si mal !
    Merci pour le voyage et un bel après-midi à toi.

    • Merci pour la recherche. J’avais vu son nomw quelque part mais je ne m’en souvenais plus. Effectivement, je n’aimais pas bcp Maillol étant jeune, mais avec le temps… (Comme dirait léo Ferré…)
      A+ cher ami

  2. Dag Brian. Another ecletic trip in European main cities. The cool thing about these posts is, apart from the interesting back stories, that the onlooker never can predict what is going to pop up in the next picture. My attention kept hanging for a bit at the Margritte painting and it’s title. I don’t really get why Les Flamands translated l’intelligence into ‘verstandhouding’, for as far as I know it means something different. Verstandhouding is linked with the verb ‘verstaan’ wich, in Flemish more then in Netherlands Dutch, does have the element of understanding in it, in technical terms: hearing, using ones ears, knowing what the other says, and in the intellectual way: being able to comprehend what is said. But it also describes a sense of relationship, bond, connection. So one can have a good ‘verstandhouding’ with someone, one knows the other well, understands his or her feelings and situation. Magrittes painting could very well depict the third meaning of ‘verstaan’ or ‘verstandhouding. But then I still don’t grasp the relation between that and the title l’intelligence. But hey, we are talking surrealism here! What’s in a word? Gotta think outside the box. 🙂 Tot ziens Brian.

    • Dag Peter. I’m glad you caught my intention. Precisely to keep the reader/onlooker on his/her toes… 😉
      I agree with you. That’s why I made the comment (with my limited Dutch). The captions are in French, Dutch/Flemish/English. Magritte was certainly a French speaker, I don’t know whether he spoke Flemish. Maybe not. So the captions are written by the curators. Now “Intelligence” in French may also be “intelligence with the ennemy”. (Which would be treason. It is possible that the title was meant this way, which would be your third meaning.
      And yes, Let’s think outside the box. (All Magritte’s titles were way outside the box.)
      Tot ziens

    • Thank you. It’s a shot I’d never taken. Often one goes up towards the Trocadéro, not looking back to the Eiffel tower. I just turned around casually, the weather was cloudy, and I saw the shot. 🙏🏻

  3. Beautiful tour Brian and lovely finish. Brussels is one of my favorite places though I never visited the Museum. I was big on the café’s though. The best coffees and chocolates. I have an anecdote on my stay there I will have to share with you sometime!

      • Stop me if I’ve told you! Just as we pulled into Brussels our car overheated ( a sweet little Opal with notorious bad luck, eventually was stolen and discovered in a bar parking lot in Trier, a few weeks after getting it back someone fell fell asleep at the wheel, slammed into the rear and totaled it. Sadly the other driver died). So we stayed in a hotel deserted but for the 4 of us and the desk clerk who served us soup he made himself. We were stuck there 8 days waiting for the car to be fixed while we ladies toured the city on foot drinking delicious coffee with chocolate while the guys helped fix the car. Luckily the AF approved the stay so no one was AWOL. At night we visited the Grand Place and went to movies with subtitles. It was delightful. 😉

      • Why stop you? 😉 I love tour stories. You may have told some of it before.
        Visiting the Grand-Place and watching movies with subtitles sound like a nice adventure… What’s a week? 👍🏻

  4. Very interesting post Brieuc. The surrealist poster intrigued me and I found the names of the men: Maxime Alexandre, Louis Aragon, André Breton, Luis Buñuel, Jean Caupenne, Salvador Dalí, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Marcel Fourrier, Camille Goemans, René Magritte, Paul Nougé, Georges Sadoul, Yves Tanguy, André Thirion, Albert Valentin.

    That dismissal letter is indeed humiliating. I recently read that after WWI, the Brits felt compelled to grant women the right to vote after all they’d done. One third of the men between the age of 28 and 32 had been killed however so they made 30 the legal age for women to vote. There were other restrictions as well. Wouldn’t want to have them taking over the place.

    I didn’t know about Laure Diebold. Quite remarkable. Thanks.

    • This was a very nice search you did Carol. Thank you. Buñuel, Ernst and Tanguy were other masters at their crafts. I’ll look the others up. Don’t know all of them…
      And yes, that attitude in the UK was… Unforgivable. One detail. in 1919, on that picture all the women wear long hair and dresses. My grandmother cut both around 1917-1918. As many did. I imagine the “underground” company would not have any of that “nonsense”…
      About Diebold, neither did I. I know about Jean Moulin, but not about her. It is a good thing to have those mailboxes painted. Keeps the memory of unknown heroes.
      Au revoir.

      • My grandmother also cut her hair in a bob around that time, maybe a bit later since she was born in 1905—the baby of my 4 grandparents.

        The other name I recognized was the poet Louis Aragon. He was married to Elsa Triolet, the first woman to win the Prix Goncourt and who wrote Le premier accroc coûte 200 francs.

      • I highly recommend Le premier accroc…. There are four independent stories. I think I’ve read three of the four. All excellent. Fiction but fiction that is written by an eyewitness to the time period and the action of which she writes.

  5. I must admit to being a fan of Dickens. I have just signed up to a readathon of his short stories. I will be reading six of them. This is a very interesting post. I learned a few new things. I am trying to create Van Gogh’s Field of Sunflowers as a cake for my husbands birthday in May. The flowers take a long time to make hence the lead time.

  6. An intriguing tour of Paris with some unusual points and photos.
    I believe that curry is the No.1 dish in the UK now, but guess it makes a change from meat and 3 veg.
    Love the selection of photos in this post, as always.

  7. Nice! Love the Van Gogh. One of two of my all time favourite artists.

    The ‘dismissal’ photo is timely as this afternoon I read that a fighter plane fly-over at a game in the States would feature all female pilots.
    Only took just over a hundred years.

  8. Another fantastic journey. A cup of coffee, your images and words, and the leisure stroll – perfect! That dismissal letter was a dainty slap in the face. I suppose that gentleman was some Mughal official or maybe emperor. Keep these posts coming, Brian. I’ll keep the coffee ready. 🙂

  9. My apologies for my tardiness in getting to this wonderful post! I have to say I just love the way you mix and match things. It keeps us on our toes and very interested. Merveilleux voyage que tu nous offres à chaque fois 🙂

  10. Walking with you through this post of these three cities is a great way to enjoy the morning with a hot cup of coffee and artistic thoughts 🙂 In the two photos of the statue (the opening shot and the last shot from a different perspective), I enjoyed thinking about: “tomb or treasure, that I speak or remain silent. Friend do not enter without desire.” And then the finale was a brilliant idea: the closed-eyes picture. The beauty of viewing art is it provides a point of creativity for us, the viewer, as well. At some point in time, I am sure I will be taking a photo and thinking back to the ‘closed eyes’ idea and I’ll go off on a tangent of it because of its impact 🙂

    • Thank you Dalo. Glad you enjoyed the walk. Those words above the Trocadéro are magic. So was the closed eyes photo. A stroke of genius. Art (Beauty) eventually defeats evil. (Let’s just make it quick, shall we?) 😉
      Be good.

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