We've been abandoned by that glorious sun of the last few days and the streets are wet and shiny. Kids coming from school are bundled up in hooded coats, leaving their backpacks to get soaked. With any luck the ink on their homework assignments will run and they won't have to complete them. You can tell what kind of student I was, can't you?
My path today took me through the Place des Vosges. On many days, in fact, my path takes me through the Place des Vosges, a circumstance that once seemed so far from likely as to be almost unimaginable. Sorry to belabor the point, but I still can't believe I'm writing that. Okay, deep breath. Today I held an umbrella in one hand, trying not to get too wet, while simultaneously taking a picture of the naked headless mannekins mooning me from their 17th century perch. My head spins.
I was on the way to an exhibition appropriate to a rainy day, a collection of Flemish paintings from Transylvania. The Samuel Brukenthal Collection, which includes Breughel, Memling and Van Eyck, among others, was on display at the Musée Jacquemart-André. I love this museum, which was left to the state by Nélie Jacquemart, who with her husband Edouard André spent a considerable fortune collecting art and filling their huge townhouse with it. They were talented collectors, amassing not only French paintings but also a spectacular collection of Italian art, including the large Tiepolo fresco on the main staircase and of all things, a Tiepolo on the ceiling of the café, which was once the dining room.
Unfortunately the rooms set aside for special exhibitions like the Flemish one are quite small and because the shows tend to attract large numbers of viewers, it gets a little crowded in there, particularly when the museum allows guides to take groups through and stand blocking the paintings for many minutes. Do I sound annoyed? I was very polite, though, as I elbowed my way past them.
A prohibition on picture taking inside stopped me from photographing the paintings, but how could they object to me pointing the camera outside from the window of the grand ballroom?