Saturday, November 27, 2010

musee nissim de camondo

Today started off rather slowly. Not at all a bad thing on a Saturday morning.

I lazed around my apartment for a while, making coffee and reading P.G. Wodehouse, then talking to Daniel and his friend Atticus on the phone (they were up at 1am drinking Sparxx and making frozen pizza in Atticus's oven, which also apparently functions as the heating system for his apartment at Stanford. There was some debate as to whether that showed a European sensibility or was just, you know, ghetto.)

Afterwards, since we had the first snow of the season yesterday and the weather has become quite brisk, I set off to see if I could get an old fur coat I bought a few months ago at the Salon du Vintage fixed- there's a small tear in the sleeve, which I suppose is part of the bargain when you buy vintage things. Wearing fur fits into the category of Things-that-are-generally-frowned-upon-in-the-United-States-but-are-A-OK-in-France, like cigarettes or butterfat. So I decided that it would be acceptable to buy one while I was living here, especially since I mostly just wear it inside my icebox of an apartment.

Anyway, I lugged the damned thing down the street while a man followed me making meowing noises (...did he think the coat was made of dead cats ? shudder. Or was he taking cat-calling literally?) and then found out that a drycleaner can't fix such a thing and I'll have to take it to a fur-specific tailor, one with "special needles." Oh.

So I dumped the coat at my apartment and started over. I decided to go visit the Musee Nissim de Camondo up by the Parc Monceau in the 8th.

I'd never heard of this museum until last week, when a friend drew my attention to an article in the NY Times on artwork stolen during WWII. The author of the article made mention of the Musee Nissim de Camondo as being among the loveliest museums in Paris, so I felt I had to go and take a look.

This hotel particulier was built in 1911 by comte Moise de Camondo, the scion of a Jewish banking family of Turkish origin. In 1935, Moise bequeathed the house and the entire collection of 18th century furniture and art within to the French State in honor of his son Nissim de Camondo who was killed in combat in WWI.

The residence has been restored and is now open to the public. 

It really is something to see. It made me think of Proust, because doesn't this seem like exactly the setting for the sort of of world he describes in his novel? The Aubusson tapestries and Savonnerie rugs, the silver originally commissioned by Catherine II of Russia. There is an entire gallery devoted to the Sevres china that was used in the household. It's fairly epic.

The article in the paper also mentioned a book by Lynn Nichols called The Rape of Europa that provides a history of art plundered by the nazis during WWII. I bought the book and would absolutely recommend it to anyone at all interested in European art history. There's also apparently a documentary film based on the novel, but I haven't seen it yet. 

Anyway, quite fascinating. And now I'm really looking forward to reading this, another book along a somewhat similar vein that my friend Lena pointed out to me... perfect reading for the long cold days ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...