Tuileries, Plantes, Monceau
Jardin des Tuileries
Aristide Maillol’s sculptures of female nudes, some of them allegorical: treasures of the Jardin des Tuileries.
Gaston Lachaise’s fertility goddess who can also whup your ass.
A Dubuffet masquerader:
The Sons of Cain by Paul Landowski:
I braved the dust of the Tuileries to check out Statues Die Too, three totemic sculptures in limestone:
The Vowel Tree momentarily fooled me. How will I view it next time?
Jardin des Plantes
Comte de Buffon, French naturalist, greets you at the entrance to the gardens:
Buffon’s chair leg pins down the anguished lion rug:
The gardens are so well groomed due to a small army of gardeners regularly snipping spent blooms.
Not many curves in this botanical garden, whose flowerbeds were drawn with a straightedge. Just runways of the latest floral fashions.
A company called Nova Flore Jardin produces new varieties for the Jardin des Plantes, such as this dahlia dubbed “French Cancan”:
Outside the zoo at Jardin des Plantes, I observed a raven engaging in earnest conversation with two snowy owls, plotting the great escape.
One of the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes:
The sculpture Cub Hunter depicts an enraged mother bear attacking a hunter who has killed one of her cubs. Although the hunter’s knife has found its target, the she-bear is poised to clamp down on his jugular.
The Jardin des Plantes is more than just charming new dahlia varieties.
Insects from the Gallery of Evolution
(More on the architecture of the Gallery of Evolution in my upcoming post on Art Nouveau.)
Below, the harmless “peanut head bug” evolved eyespots to mimic a creature more ferocious than the benign lunch that it really is. Its monstrous head provides a similar defense. Neither failed to deter the collector.
Below: The green-and-black Malaysian butterfly evolved jagged patterns on its wings to resemble a certain green-and-black Malaysian bird in flight — the butterfly’s insurance against predators seeking insects. Both bird and butterfly are protected because their jagged patterns resemble thorns. Evolutionary mimicry can be complicated . . .
Some pretty grasshoppers:
The Fake Ruins of Parc Monceau
About twenty years before the French Revolution, the green space that’s now the Parc Monceau was purchased by Louis Philippe II, Duc d’Orléans.
Louis-Philippe was an aristocrat who embraced some of the ideals of the Enlightenment. On his purchased land, he created a public park in 1778 based on the English model of the “folly”: gardens decorated with structures that imitated architectural “curiosities” from other lands or other times. Intended to be amusing and thought-provoking, the objects in the duke’s park are sometimes fantastical, sometimes miniature, and often built intentionally as ruins.
A Classical colonnade built around a reflecting pond. The scaffolding suggests that this imitation ruin has itself fallen into ruin.
About ten years after the park was finished, and on the eve of the French revolution, a new wall was constructed around the city — not for defense purposes, but for the collection of customs taxes by an elite and very wealthy group of “tax farmers.” The park lay just inside the unpopular wall, and a neoclassical rotunda housing customs offices was built along its northern boundary. The upper level was presented to Louis-Philippe as an observation deck, so that he could enjoy an elevated view of his park.
During the French Revolution, the duke adopted the liberal ideals of liberty, egality, and fraternity. He fed the poor, renounced his nobility, joined the Revolutionary Jacobins, changed his name to Philippe Égalité, and opened up the doors to his inherited Palais Royal (renaming it Palais Égalité). He even voted in favour of executing his cousin, King Louis-Philippe XVI.
But becoming a model citoyen of the new republic couldn’t save him from the infighting and suspicions of the revolutionary factions. Citoyen Égalité was guillotined in 1793.
Next: Jardin du Luxembourg