Tag Archives: Paris

The South Rose Window of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Rose South Window, Exterior, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window, (Lower Right)  Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Notre Dame Interior, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Notre Dame Interior, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Notre Dame Interior, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window Detail, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
South Rose Window Detail, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
The Prophets, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
The Prophets, Notre Dame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier

The South Rose Window of Notre Dame is a Jewel in the Crown of one the most well known Gothic Masterpieces in the world.

Constructed in 1260, yes it’s nearly 800 years old, the South Rose Window was a gift from King Saint Louis.  Designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreull, it’s the central element that thrones over the transept facade, and is the counterpoint to the North Rose Window. Who knew there was a second Rose Window, right? There’s actually 3 rose windows, but because the sun moves in the southern sky, it’s the South Rose Window that’s lit up by the sun during the day, thus casting it’s remarkable glow into the transept of Notre Dame.  As you may or may not know, a gothic church, when viewed from above, is shaped like a cross. The long part is known as the nave, and the shorter part that crosses over it, is the transept.

Over 42 feet across (12.9 meters) this Rosette, as it’s sometimes called, is dedicated to the New Testament. Below it are the sixteen prophets representing the heavenly court. The four great prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, carrying the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The South Rose Window symbolises Christ’s triumphance, reigning over heaven, surrounded by all of his witnesses on earth. The three rosettes of Notre Dame are considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of Christianity.

So, what if you’re not a religious kinda guy or gal? It doesn’t matter. If you’re fortunate enough to ever visit this awe inspiring cathedral, I guarantee you’ll be moved. On one of my visits to Paris, I spent 8 days there during a very cold February. My hotel was just two blocks away, so I decided to start every morning with a little ‘quiet time’ or meditation at the Cathedral before beginning my daily adventures. It touched my soul in a way that I couldn’t possibly imagine. The soaring ceilings and the vastness of the space, combined with nearly 800 years of history, candles being lit in prayer, mass spoken in French… it was humbling to say the least.  I feel honored to have touched a part of living history, and I make sure to return there with every visit  to Paris. For the life of me I can’t understand the tourist who circle around the nave in a matter of minutes, taking photos and selfies, and then head back outside. The space needs to be felt and experienced. It’s not just a photo op to add to your instagram or facebook profile. It can truly be a life altering experience if you’ll give yourself the time and the opportunity.

 

Inside the Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles

Stairwell, Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Stairwell, Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petite Trianon Interior, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petit Trianon Interior, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Fireplace at Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Fireplace at Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Public Salon, Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Marie Antoinette Portrait, Grand Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Marie Antoinette Portrait, Petit Trianon,  Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Uniforms for Petite Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier
Servant Uniform,  Petit Trianon, Versailles, Photo Romi Cortier

 

I was thrilled to go Inside the Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles while visiting France in 2011. It seems to be hit or miss on whether or not the ‘casual’ residences of the Palace will be open to the public based on previous visits, but happily this was one of those days. Looking back, I’m a bit stunned at the amount of photos I took on this trip, but now they’re becoming a great resource for my blog.

The Petit Trianon was built between 1762 and 1768 during the reign of Louis XV. It’s considered a small Chateau and is located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, in Versailles, France. Originally built for Madame de Pompadour by Ange-Jacques Gabriel, it ultimately became 19 year old Marie Antoinette’s exclusive residence. The residence became her refuge from the demands of formal ‘court life’ and her royal responsibilities. Known as a Neoclassical residence, each side of the home has a different facade based on how it will be viewed from that part of the estate.

This residence transitions from the Rococo Style into the Neoclassical Style. Some hallmarks of that design period include the thin fluted legs of the Harpsichord  seen in the Public Salon, as well as the elegant round table in the sitting room that appears to have sevre porcelain inlays as well as a delicate gold tea rail. If you look closely at the sitting room photo, you’ll see what appears to be hidden panels in the wall. You’ll also notice there’s  a decorative garland on the wall at the top of the staircase and a gilt garland over the mirror in the public salon. Garlands like this help define the Neoclassical Period.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it’s the repetition of a design element that help define a space. And it appears nothing ties a place together better than gold! Even in the beautifully pastel colored room, the gilt mirrors and candelabra tie that room into the rest of the residence. And don’t you just love those gilt fireplace andirons. I especially love the design of the servants uniforms. Until I reviewed my photos, I didn’t realize how beautifully they tie in with the color palette of the residence. I think they’re so spectacular, and yet they were on display in a lower level hallway that most tourists might have missed. I wonder if the competitors on Project Runway have ever seen these, it might give them a bit of inspiration.

The Gilded Monuments of Paris

Courtyard at Palace of Versailles, Photo T. Zeleny
Cour d’honneur, Palace of Versailles,  Photo T. Zeleny
Palace of Versailles, Court Yard Detail, Photo Romi Cortier
The Mask of Apollo Clock, Palace of Versailles,  Photo Romi Cortier
Les Invalides, Paris,  Photo Romi Cortier
Les Invalides, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Pont Alexandre III, Bridge Detail:Pegasus Being Led by Fame, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Paris Opera House Detail, Photo Romi Cortier
Paris Opera House Gilded Detail La Poesie (Poetry) , (Charles Gumery)  Photo Romi Cortier
Paris, Bridge Detail, Photo Romi Cortier
Pont Alexandre III, Bridge Detail: Pegasus Held by the Fame of Combat, Paris, Photo Romi Cortier
Palace of Versailles, Gate Detail, Photo Romi Cortier
Royal Gate, Palace of Versailles,  Photo Romi Cortier

The Gilded Monuments of Paris are easy to see while visiting the City of Lights, however, finding their proper names is a far more difficult task. It’s taken several hours of research to find the proper names for these exquisite works of art, that I so easily photographed while visiting in 2011. The good news is what I’ve learned while doing research.

The Royal Gate, which stands at the entrance to the cour d’honneur at Versailles, was replaced in 2008.  At a price of 4 million British Pounds (about 7 million US Dollars), this replica took two years to recreate.  Weighing 15-tons, it  took a plethora of historians and top craftsmen to recreate Jules Hardouin-Mansarts original masterpiece from 1680 that was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Louis XIV (the 14th) who resided at the Palace of Versailles, was known as the Sun King. If you’ll take a closer look at the clock presiding over the cour d’ honneur, you’ll notice what looks like a face, framed by the sun. This was a reference to Louis XIV. Known as the Mask of Apollo, this clock marked the rhythm of the time with 3 bells that weighed from 209 pounds to over 2500 pounds. The bronze and embossed copper were regilded in 1999, with a newly approved ‘Royal Blue’ background approved by Versailles archives.

Les Invalides, officially known as L ‘Hotel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids) contains museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. The most famous detail about this building is who’s buried there.  Napoleon Bonaparte,  known as Napoleon I, was the Emperor of the French from 1804-14, and again in 1815. Napoleon died 6 years later of ‘stomach cancer’ while in exile.  In 1840 his remains were moved to Les Invalides and encased in a tomb sculpted from blocks of red quartzite, in an open rotunda about 2 stories below street level. Therefore, when you walk into Les Invalides and look down over the railing… you’re quite literally bowing down to Napoleon in death.

The Palais Garnier, or Paris Opera House, was built by Charles Garnier during the Second Empire (1861-75). World famous for it’s opulence, this monumental structure is considered ‘typical’ Beaux-Arts. The gilded figure La Poesie (Poetry) sits atop the right Pavillion of the Opera House, and is matched by L’Harmonie (Harmony) on the  left. Both are made of gilt copper electrotype.

And lastly, those gorgeous gilded statues known as “Fames” on  Pont Alexandre III.  Besides looking stunning, they’re very important stabilizing counterweights that support the bridges arch, without interfering with the views. There’s a total of 4, one for each corner, and they sit atop massive masonry socles. Watch the video below to learn more about this elegant bridge.

 

Furniture from the Mondrian / De Stijl exhibit at the Pompidou Center

Gerrit Reitveld Table, Pompidou Center 2011, Photo Romi Cortier
Gerrit Reitveld Table, Pompidou Center 2011, Photo Romi Cortier
Gerrit Reitveld Chair, Pompidou Center, 2011, Photo Romi Cortier
Gerrit Reitveld Chair, Pompidou Center, 2011, Photo Romi Cortier
Theo Vn Doesburg, Cornelis Van Eesteren
Theo Vn Doesburg, Cornelis Van Eesteren, Building Model, Photo Romi Cortier

In early 2011, I made a mad dash to Paris for a four day weekend to see the Mondrian / De Stijl exhibit at the Pompidou Center. Decadent yes, but it was a must see event for an art history geek like myself.  De  Stijl, Dutch for ‘The Style‘ was a movement from 1917 – 1928 that sought to wipe out all historical references in art, architecture and furniture, creating a new design vocabulary for the 20th Century.

Painter Piet Mondrian and furniture designer/architect  Gerrit Rietveld are the two most famous people from this period. Their works were the subject of this monumental exhibit at the Pompidou Center, an exhibit that had a strict policy against photography with guards in every room chasing down anyone with a camera. How did I get these shots you ask… not easy. (lets hope they don’t find my blog) It was so exciting to get to see these works in person, although I almost didn’t make it to the exhibit entrance. Do you see the little glass tube at the top of the Pompidou Center, 6 stories up, not a good thing for a guy with a fear of heights. When the elevator doors opened, I almost fainted. Complete strangers in the elevator grabbed my arms, told me to close my eyes, and then walked me to the entrance of the exhibit. So worth the trauma!

It was exciting to see the evolution of Mondrian’s paintings from the cubist inspired ‘The Still Life with Ginger Pot II‘ to his starker images that we’re all so familiar with, such as ‘Composition with red blue and yellow’ 1930.  Many people associate this ‘look’ with the 1960’s or 1970’s thanks to the Partridge Family Bus from the television series ‘The Partridge Family. However, it all started about 50 years earlier.

 

Chairs from the Grand Trianon at the Palace of Versailles

French NeoClassical Chair in Blue
Louis XVI / French NeoClassical Chair in Blue Silk in the Room of Mirrors. Photo Romi Cortier
French Neoclassical Chair in Mauve
Louis XVI / French Neoclassical Chair in Mauve. Photo Romi Cortier
Gilded French Neoclassical in Yellow
Gilded French Empire Fauteuil (open arms) in the family room of Louis-Philippe. Photo Romi Cortier
Gilded French Neoclassical Chair in Crimson Red
Gilded French Neoclassical Chair in Fuschia in the room of Malachite. Photo Romi Cortier

These chairs from the Grand Trianon at the Palace of Versailles speak volumes about their inhabitants during this critical time in Frances history. The reign of Louis XVI (the 16th, last of the three Louis’s including the 14th and 15th)  ended abruptly in 1789 with the French Revolution.  Louis XV (the 15th)  had a design dictum of Rococo, curvaceous with natural wood grains. The furniture above was a reaction to that period. Therefore, the look of the furniture became a reference to the Romans and the Greeks, which was inspired by the discovery of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Sleek straight lines with right angles, fluted columns, oak and laurel leaves, wreaths,  pastel tones… logical simplicity. Madame du Pompadour had an interest in all that was new and fashionable and helped influence this look that is now typically referred to as ‘French Neoclassicism’. The period was short lived, from roughly 1760 – 1789.  After the French Revolution in 1789, the outraged citizens held an auction to sell off much of the furniture of the Royal Court… an auction that lasted 365 days!