Sunday, August 01, 2021

Musee Gustave Moreau, 400th Anniversary of Jean de la Fontaine Fables


Julie P. wrote me, “I’d like to see less pastry and more Paris greenery”. The greeny view 19th century artist Gustave Moreau saw outside his bedroom window in his wonderful museum. This is one of my longish,artsy posts with a lot of links, so you may want to go watch Netflix ☺️

And his multi-functioning bedroom/gallery plus chess set. 

Ivisited the Moreau museum a while back FYI. There are no empty walls. This visit was to see a special collection of his preparatory drawings for a commissioned edition of Les Fables de Jean de la Fontaine. It is the 400th anniversary of his birth 🤸🏾‍♀️🥂🍾🎉🎉

Inside the exhibition, a series of sketches for the tale of the wolf and the crane. Moreau visited The zoological collection at the Jardins des Plants to study the crane. 
Here’s Fontaine’s fable, always with a moral at the end:
A feeding wolf got a small bone stuck in his throat and, in terrible pain, begged the other animals for help, promising a reward. At last the Crane agreed to try and, putting its long bill down the Wolf's throat, loosened the bone and took it out. But when the Crane asked for his reward, the Wolf replied, "You have put your head inside a wolf’s mouth and taken it out again in safety; that ought to be reward enough for you."

I think I prefer 19th century illustrator J.J.Grandvilles version. A much more anthropomorphic version. His figures are  human-like and much wittier. Note even the tablecloth tells a story. 

Moreau’s studies for fable, ‘The Wolf and the Rat’, probably done at the zoo as well.

Not to be left out, another fabulous 19th century illustrator, Gustave Doré, also did a naturalistic lion and petite souris.

And JJ Grandville’s version. The story goes the lion helped the mouse get something to eat by lifting him up on his paw. 

Later on the lion is ensnared in a net trap and the mouse helped him by gnawing through the netting. Why the lion could not do this himself with his much bigger teeth is another story. The moral is basically: size doesn’t matter. There are tons of Youtube videos illustrating all of these de la Fontaine fables in French and english if you’re interested. 

De La Fontaine
wrote 243 fables and his statue is in the Jardins des Ranelagh.

The week before, when I visited Palais-Royal,
 Librairie Delamain’s windows were jammed with posters and new editions celebrating Fontaine’s fables.  Naturally yesterday they were gone. C’est la vie. Inside they had this handsome new version with recolored old engravings + a music CD.

I went across the street to Les Drapeaux de France, where I found all those Napoléon figurines, thinking they would have La Fontaine animals. They did not. But still plenty of fun tin animals that might pass for Fontainesque. 

Meanwhile back inside the musée Moreau, a glass-covered table displays all his art supplies. 

White Porcelain plates were commonly used as palettes and still are. To see his original watercolor box was utterly thrilling.
More Paris greenery for the pastry-adverse. Are you pastry averse? Please share PB with a friend and consider receiving Parisbreakfast letters💌in your mailbox. 
Do you suppose this girl is reading the Fables of de la Fontaine?


Jeanie said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for showing J.J. Granville. I have three rather old prints by him, courtesy of my Paris flea-market fiend friend, Jerry. And I have been trying to think of his name for weeks as when I get home from the lake, I want to do a post about some of those. I love his style -- it's odd and fascinating. Now maybe I can find if these are part of the fables or just something else entirely.

I like all the art -- it's beautiful, but I'm partial to the Granville as well. And the watercolor box -- all those neutrals! Practically monochrome, not like my palette! And that bedroom is quite elegant. This looks like a great exhibit. (And I like whatever you post -- paintings, places, pastries!)

Parisbreakfasts said...

Aw…thanks Jeanie!
Click on the link to JJ Grandville for another exhibition I went to.
I had a wonderful fat book of his work I left in NYC 😢
He is so whimsical so what’s not to love ❤️

Parisbreakfasts said...

PS Back then in the 19th c, Jeanie they had mostly neutral colors, many made from plants and minerals.
Perhaps I should have painted the paintbox more true to life.

Anne said...

Lovely post. Lion teeth good for tearing, not so good for gnawing.

Unknown said...

I Love your pastry photos and of other French foods and boulangeries and patisseries !! Feel like I'm there with a good coffee ! I think ...take photos of whatever pleases YOU ! I Especially enjoy your gorgeous fun to be able to journal your day with art.Wish I could paint like you. I miss France alot...hope back next year! Hope to see you sitting somewhere painting your day !

Unknown said...

Don't know why my comment was unknown. Patricia.... trying again

Kate said...

And a perfect picture for me!
I love all of it! Love the greenery and the pastry!
Thank you!!

DK said...

This is great Carol. I visited many trips ago to the musee Moreau. One of my favorites.

Jane Gabin said...

Another place for me to see.
Will add to my list.

Anonymous said...

I love all your posts. It allows me to visit Paris, my favorite city, vicariously. I love knowing the names of the places you visit, so that I can visit them if I ever get to Paris again. Please, everyone, get vaccinated. It is how we will conquer COVID--think smallpox shot, polio vaccination, etc. These diseases are gone! I want to return to Paris.

sukicart said...

I love the Moreau Musee but there are so many (large) paintings that it's almost overwhelming. I love all of your aquarelles, pastry, trees, flowers, people, monuments, store fronts, etc. Just do whatever moves you on any given day. I bet Bear loves the pastry because you bring home samples.

Rachel said...

Greenery or patisserie, I love it all!

La Table De Nana said...

Les Fables de LaFontaine..I think I still have a few books kicking around..
I LOVE seeing messy artist palettes♥

Cornelia said...

Ooo! I love seeing artists’ art supplies! Thank you for showing them! Turner’s watercolor paintbox is in the Tate (the original Tate) in London if you’re ever there

Parisbreakfasts said...

yes I have been to the Tate and seen Turner’s paints.
He was a magician anyway.

Jeanette, Mistress of Longears said...

Pastry averse? Never! But I love all your travels in's like a personal guided tour! Merci beaucoup!

Bonnie L said...

What a wonderful museum, Carol, from Moreau’s art work to the building itself. Paris is so full of marvelous museums it’s hard to keep up. I’m definitely not pastry averse but love everything you bring to us from Paris…you keep a nice balance.

Unknown said...

No, you never share too much pastry! A perfect balance between food, your art, the rest of Paris and your other travels. I always have enjoyed your shopping and your sharing of museums and other art. In case I don't get back to Paris very soon I look forward to what you share. Cheers!

Pamela M said...

I thoroughly enjoy all your posts - be it pastries or places. It always makes me wish I could trail along with you. Looking forward to your next post. Be safe and stay well!

Home said...

Bonjour! Why have I heard of Fontaine Fables & not Moreau?
Wonderful education.

Parisbreakfasts said...

Gustave Moreau is a bit obscure, but important to other artists
Many bigger names studied in his atelier..Matisse for one.
His work is eclectic and literary with mythical references. Not to everyone’s taste.

Mary said...

I love to look at their tools of their trade. There’s something about paint boxes I’m drawn to & I have no painting talent! I think that’s why I love all your color samples in addition to the finished work.

Barbara said...

(I clicked Preview and my heartfelt post disappeared! 🤷🏼‍♀️) No time to duplicate it now… suffice it to say that I’m very grateful for your beautiful art, your visits to interesting places, your vast historical knowledge, and- most of all - your generous spirit in sharing them! 🇺🇸🇫🇷

Parisbreakfasts said...

I have never clicked Preview :(( didnt know Sorry
Thanks :))

Empress E. said...

Audrey in Paris map ****YES, please!***** Great idea!

RosieCaro said...

I appreciate each of your posts and eagerly await them, though I have to admit a small thrill over the WC palette too!
But I enjoy each little taste of PRis and beyond you send our way!
Merci pour tous

Peggy said...

I love following you around Paris. I feel like I am there without having to travel.

Li Ann said...

Art is good but don't leave out the pastry!

Desiree said...

I love pastry! But I also love to see how the French live, and enjoy life

Jill P. said...

I really enjoyed this one. Spent hours in the Moreau home back in the
'70s, one of the high points of my travel life. I have never forgotten
it and the thrills of looking through prints and being in his spaces.
It was a very "messy" museum back then, all the more fun bec of that,
you felt he might enter the room at any moment! Thank you very much
for this walk in my memories!