Tag Archives: Stefan Rinck

Paris Wanderlust: Tuileries, Plantes, Monceau

Tuileries, Plantes, Monceau

Jardin des Tuileries

Aristide Maillol’s sculptures of female nudes, some of them allegorical: treasures of the Jardin des Tuileries.

Les trois grâces
Monument à Cézanne, 1925
La Nuit (1909)
La Baigneuse drapée (1937)

Gaston Lachaise’s fertility goddess who can also whup your ass.

Gaston Lachaise, Standing Woman (1932)

A Dubuffet masquerader:

Jean Dubuffet, Le Bel costumé (1998)

The Sons of Cain by Paul Landowski:

Paul Landowski, Les Fils de Caïn (1906)

I braved the dust of the Tuileries to check out Statues Die Too, three totemic sculptures in limestone:

Stefan Rinck, Les Statues Meurent Aussi (2017)

The Vowel Tree momentarily fooled me. How will I view it next time?

Giuseppe Penone, Arbre des Voyelles (1999

Jardin des Plantes

Comte de Buffon, French naturalist, greets you at the entrance to the gardens:

Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (5e)

Buffon’s chair leg pins down an anguished lion rug:

One of the greenhouses of the Jardin des Plantes:

The flower beds of Jardin des Plantes are groomed by a small army of gardeners who regularly snip spent blooms. A company called Nova Flore Jardin produces new varieties, such as the dahlia below dubbed “French Cancan”:

Not many curves in this botanical garden, just runways of the latest floral fashions.

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.

Dénicheur d’Oursons (1884) by Emmanuel Frémiet

Outside the zoo, which occupies almost half of the botanical gardens, I observed a raven engaged in earnest conversation with two snowy owls, plotting the great escape.

The Jardin des Plantes is more than just charming new dahlia varieties.

The Gallery of Evolution
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(More on the architecture of the Gallery of Evolution in my upcoming post on Art Nouveau.)

The Gallery displays specimens from its impressive insect collection. 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 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 in 1778 a public park based on the English model of the “folly”: gardens decorated with structures that imitated architectural “curiosities” from other lands or 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 liberté, égalité, fraternité. He fed the poor, renounced his nobility, and joined the Revolutionary Jacobins. He changed his name to Philippe Égalité and opened the doors of his inherited Palais Royal to the public, 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 Revolutionary factions. Citoyen Égalité was guillotined in 1793.

Next: Jardin du Luxembourg

Camille Martin

Paris Wanderlust: Passages with Personality

Passages with Personality

Before I broadened my exploration of Paris’ passages, I had a mental image of a “typical” one, something like the elegant, streamlined Passage du Bourg l’Abbé:

It was, to my mind, a classic 19th-century passage with glass ceiling, swank shops, and polished wood paneling.

But what about a pre-French Revolution passage with a colourful Art Deco roof? Or a passage that broadens into a space topped with a rotunda? Or a passage with atriums that open to the sky? How about one featuring a monumental clock automaton? And what does a 21st-century passage look like?

Maybe the “classic” one isn’t so typical. Like the parks of Paris, each passage has its own history and personality.

Pre-French Revolution passage with Art Deco roof

Passage du Prado

This originally uncovered passage was created in 1785. Its Art Deco roof and colourful decorations were added in 1925.


The alternate realities of three passages

On the Right Bank lies a stretch of three passages in a row, each linked to some form of alternate reality.

Passage des Panoramas

Nothing remains of the 19th century “panoramas” that gave this passage its name in 1800. The panorama was a scene — natural or urban — painted onto a rotunda. The viewer would climb stairs to a platform that allowed a maximal experience of the place depicted.

An enterprising American shipbuilder constructed two towers along Boulevard Montmartre featuring such panoramas, and opened them to the paying public. In order to offer visitors a comfortable and sheltered access to the towers, he constructed the Passage des Panoramas.

11-13 Boulevard Montmartre (2e)

The towers with their painted rotundas were demolished in 1831. All that remains of the escape fantasies of Boulevard Montmartre is the name of the Passage des Panoramas. That, and the abiding human desire to experience a convincing elsewhere.

Passage Jouffroy

Two entrepreneurs — one of them a caricaturist named Grévin — created Passage Jouffroy.

Passage Jouffroy (1836) (9e)

The two eventually opened a wax museum with a façade in the passage. Musée Grévin, the Parisian version of Madame Tussaud’s in London, housed its own special brand of alternate reality.

Musée Grévin (founded 1882)

Passage Verdeau

Walking north, the streak of preserved passages continues with Passage Verdeau, a marketplace for collectors of antiques and books.

31 bis Rue du Faubourg Montmartre to 6 Rue de la Grange Batelière (3e)

Bibliophiles are lured by the warm wood and colourful book spines of La Librairie du Passage. The bookstore is the heart of the passage, a haven for interrogators of reality.

A Passage with a Rotunda

Passage Brady

Passage Brady widens to create breathing space in the narrow walkway, and geometrical interest in the rotunda that covers it. The narrow walkway on the other side no longer exists; it was truncated when Haussmann created Boulevard de Strasbourg.

Passage Brady (1828), 33 Boulevard de Strasbourg (10e)

Passage with open-air atriums

Passage connecting Rue Tiquetonne and Rue Montmartre; 48 Rue Montmartre (2e)

Quartier de l’Horloge

During the late 1970s, an updated version of the Parisian passage opened: Le Quartier de l’Horloge (The Clock District) and its two Passages de l’Horloge.


The developer commissioned a monumental clock automaton (in which sculpted figures become animated at certain times, like a cuckoo clock). Defender of Time features a man with a sword, who at the top of each hour would fend off one of three attacking animals: a crab, a dragon, or a bird — and at times, all three.

Jacques Monestier, Le Défenseur du Temps

Decades later, the urban experiment could not fend off certain monetary and commercial forces that prevented it from functioning like a well-oiled automaton. Shops and restaurants moved away, and the arcades of the passage closed off. The clock, too expensive to maintain, has ceased working. It’s not clear whether it can be reset.


Paris again re-invented the passage at Beaupassage, an open-air arcade of high-end shops, restaurants, and sculptural art. An entrance to Beaupassage:

La Traversée (The Crossing): a huge cardboard forest sculpture lining a covered walkway leading into Beaupassage:

Artist: Eva Jospin, La Traversée, Beaupassage (7e)

Sculptures in the large, open-air courtyard:

Sculptor: Stefan Rinck

A tropical entrance to Beaupassage:

Next: A Paris Mashup

Camille Martin