Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Louvre - Les Choses Sill Life


The Louvre is always closed on Tuesdays except for a vernissage, an opening

Yesterday I went to the opening of the new exhibit

Called ‘Les Choses’, The Things, A history of still life since Prehistory, on from October 12, 2022 to January 23, 2023 . This early painting of a turnip/navet is surprisingly by Odilon Redon, from around 1875.

The exhibit is an extravaganza of still life painting, sculpture, photography, filmography 

And new ways of looking, like this film clip from ‘Dinner Scene’ by the ineffable Buster Keaton (1920). Not what you would consider a still life per se.

And new ways of thinking about the everyday things in our lives. A painting from the German school, i.e. by an unknown artist (I’m only showing the lower half) from the Colmar musee Unterlindden, which we missed on our jaunt to visit Mme Christine Ferber, (who creates still life subjects everyday but that’s another story). 

From the Dutch school, a renown sumptuous still life by Jan Davidsz de Heem, called La Desserte, 1640, where every object is painted in an intensely detailed manner, closely and equally explored and presented. 

Matisse, as a student, copied de Heem’s painting, changing the proportions somewhat, abstracting the objects, yet keeping the tight geometric grid composed of strong verticals and horizontals of the original. 

A later Matisse where it’s easy to spot the geometry.

Before him, Cezanne, one of the kings of still life geometry.
  In Cézanne's letter to Emile Bernard of April 15, 1904: “May I repeat what I told you here: treat nature by means of the cylinder, the sphere, the cone, everything brought into proper perspective so that each side of an object or a plane is directed toward a central point.

I loved this straightforward Emile Bernard. He took Cezanne’s advice.

I know I’m jumping around historically but so many pieces to see in this exhibition. I’m showing my favorites after only a single viewing. An odd choice, a very abstract Bonnard, ‘Coin de Table’ of the many tabletops Bonnard painted. Is that a tiny chair at the far end of the table? 

Skipping to an
earlier period of still life in the exhibit from the Herculanum in the Naples Archéologie museum around 50-79, valuable as a source of information about the Roman way of life.
Not in the exhibition, but I’m taking many liberties here, this exquisite glass painting from Pompeii. 

As a lead-in to  this exquisite glass painting in the show by Alsatian painter, Sebastien Stoskopff from 1630-1640. 
His works, which were rediscovered after 1930, portray goblets, cups and especially glasses. The reduction to a few objects, which is characteristic of early still life painting, can again be recognized in Stoskopff's painting. His chief works hang in his hometown of Strasbourg (I am going there next) 

In La Tour d’Argent Epicerie vitrine life follows art.

Impossible to show you the plethora of myriad pieces from ‘Les Choses’ So many witty and wonderful objet. This post is already too long. Hopefully your curiosity is piqued. 

I cannot not show you perhaps one of the most harmonious still lives ever - this deceptively simple yet complex arrangement by Jean Siméon Chardin (1699-1779). Chardin, more than any artist before his time, chooses exactly where he wants your eye to travel in the picture. Some edges are sharp and others are blurry. His acute understanding of the nature of tactile space is unique. We studied this painting at length in David Dewey’s watercolor classes

I’ve looked and looked at this cup more times than I can count and will keep on looking until something sinks in. It is the cup of cups. Wait..it is not from this Chardin, but another hidden away in the Louvre’s collection (the most complete Chardin collection in existence unless you can tell me otherwise). All still life lovers come here to pay homage.
If you’re in Paris and want to see this beautiful cup as well as the other 36 Chardins 

You will have to hunt In the Louvre’s collection. Room 39 in the Sully wing on the second floor in the French painting collection(closed on Mondays). 

But I digress. Interestingly the curator shows this Van Gogh bedroom painting 

(Which I’ve shown many times) as a still life, a collection of Van Gogh’s personal things that meant something to him.
There is so much more I could show you from this exhibit. 

And yet why is there only one Morandi? Surely an oversight.

And no Fantin-Latour in the show?

Also excluded photographer Irving Penn not in the show.

And no Japanese Surimono still lives? No Wayne Thiebaud?

Still an exciting, intriguing exhibit I can highly recommend. It is on till 23 January 2023. 

Immediately after I was thirsty and got a DIY pomegranate juice from Franprix. 

Here’s a recent still life from The Oyster Club in the Marais(excellent if you like shellfish & grumpy chefs). Just don’t go for lunch - it is closed. 
simple cup watercolor I recently painted and feel brazenly like showing off, among the greatest of the great. Why not? 
Subscription Paris letters 💌, maps and watercolors are in my Etsy shop
. With love💋from Paris🐻


  1. Les Choses seems to express a joie de vivre so necessary these days. Thank you for great introduction!!

  2. Lisa CHP3:45 AM

    Bonjour Carol! Greeting from across the Channel. A question for you, as you are so good at sourcing exhibits, openings, etc. Is there a particular source for learning about these in advance? Please let us know, as it would great for planning our long-delayed trip to Paris. Merci d’avance, Lisa

    1. Anonymous5:16 AM

      Hmm…a very good question. Late Summer the lists of upcoming exhibits are published. Check out Sortir à Paris website (english version). The art journal,Connaissance des Arts (in French) lists Les Expos de la Rentrée

  3. Anonymous5:18 AM

    Also major museums list their upcoming exhibitions on their websites. How I found out about the Louvre show…since I’m a still life junkie

  4. Anonymous6:13 AM

    There is no ice cream for dessert in “La
    Dessert”! I suppose it would have melted or been eaten before he painted it. But maybe they hadn’t invented it yet… Cornelia

    1. Anonymous6:16 AM

      Eating ice became a fashion at the Sun King’s court in the 1660’s. The Italians did it for a while already and Louis was immediately taken with the idea as he heard of it. A certain Monsieur Audiger, who spent time in Genoa to get into possession of recipes for delicious Italian liquors, brought the technique of ice making to France. Ice in summer? How outrageously decadent. Just the right thing for Louis XIV to show off his wealth.

  5. Anonymous6:17 AM

    Absolutely LOVE your posts! Cornelia

  6. Thanks for highlighting this wonderful exhibit--I have memories of the collection of Chardin's at the Louvre-

  7. Thanks for taking us to this exhibition! I think your still life cups are worth of a place among the best, you get the balance between the cup, liquid and spoon the best. Pomegranate juice sounds nice too 😋

    1. Anonymous8:03 AM

      I have always deeply admired you Kirra ❤️❤️❤️

  8. Anonymous7:39 AM

    Thank you for showing us this exhibit, and I love your cup and saucer at the end. On my way to etsy …😎

  9. Bonnie L8:01 AM

    This is a veritable primer on Still Lifes. Another hard to miss Paris museum exhibit. Thank you for bringing us along.

  10. Most interesting exhibit. I tried my hand at painting a still life in the 2nd grade. A vase of flowers with a black cat sitting next to it. Did not win a prize!

    1. Anonymous10:28 AM

      It sounds enchanting GA What did they know the silly fools. We were all great still life painters in 2nd grade and that’s the truth.

  11. The busiest bee in Paris evah:)

  12. Anonymous10:26 AM

    thank you, thank you, your letters always make me feel like I’ve spent a day in Paris whilst sitting at my window in the West Village…. love this letter, passing along to friends.

  13. Interesting. As soon as I reached the Chardin still life, I felt my eyes relax and I gave an inadvertent sigh of relief. It is just the perfect balance. Thank you for featuring it! Over here in the UK, I'm quite fond of Vanessa Bell's still life paintings - I like how she uses yellow.

    1. Anonymous12:17 PM

      Wonderful observation Tonia! How exciting to discover Vanessa Bell…surely influenced by Matisse and Bonnard but with her own vision. Thank you 🙏

  14. What a FABULOUS exhibit! Oh, that's a good one. I have to say, that one painting with the dishes piled up on the table reminded me of when I'm too exhausted after dinner to clean up. It's a bad look, but makes for a great painting!

    1. Anonymous2:15 AM

      You are so funny Jeanie !

  15. Anonymous11:09 PM

    Was thinking the same about Morandi.

  16. Adrien Bray3:03 AM

    I adore still lifes! Unlike my artist illustrator son who prefers fantasy to reality 😄 I am so at this exhibition in spirit, thanks for sharing Carol! 🙏

  17. Thanks for the primer! Will be visiting this exhibit soon!

  18. Looks like a fascinating exhibit but I got a lot more out of it by reading your descriptions than I would have going to the Louvre and seeing it.

  19. Bobbye Trotter11:56 AM

    Your post wasn’t too long at all. I’ve always liked Odilon Redon but his turnip, hmm, don’t know about that. Can’t wait to see more of Stoskopff when you visit Strasbourg.


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