Spring is springing everywhere here in Paris and that includes a new crop of museum exhibitions as well. So Saturday afternoon I took advantage of a lovely afternoon and rode the bus over to the wonderful Musée Jacquemart-André on the Boulevard Haussmann to see their latest special exhibition "Dans l'intimité des frères - Caillebotte - Peintre et Photographe". Housed in the former mansion of Edouard André and his wife, Nélie Jacquemart, a pair of inveterate collectors who turned their magnificent home into a private museum and later bequeathed the house and its contents to the Institute de France, this is one of my favorite museums in Paris. The residence was built in the 1870's with no expense spared in design or decoration as a venue for entertaining and a showcase for the couple's fabulous art collection. Today visitors can view prime works by Fragonard, Botticelli, Canaletto and Rembrandt displayed in the original sumptuous surroundings.
In addition to the superb permanent collection the museum often mounts small but excellent temporary shows. The most recent expo is a double homage to the work of the Caillebotte brothers - the famous Impressionist painter Gustave and the lesser known but very competent photographer Martial. This is the first exhibition ever to present the brothers' works together, with paintings and photographs on facing walls so the visitor can really appreciate the similarities in interests and subjects. Both Gustave and Martial had an affinity for gardens, yachting and the poetry of day to day existence and both recorded the "modernization" of Paris during the era of Baron Haussmann. My favorite works depicted the view from the balcony of the family's apartment on the corner of the Boulevard Haussmann and Rue Gluck. Here we see Gustave's colorful Impressionist interpretations and Mariel's sharper, more avant garde black and white shots of the same scenes. "Caillebotte" is on view until July 11.
Next stop is the Palais de Tokyo on the Avenue du Président Wilson where Christies' has installed a preview of its upcoming auction of the contents of the Château de Gourdon. 902 lots ranging from suits of armor to Art Nouveau bedroom suites are all on the auction block but the main focus is a fabulous collection of Modernist furniture. Featuring the biggest names in decorative design including Jean Dunand, Eileen Gray, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann and others, the sale offers some marvelous examples of Post World War 2 décor. Like a suite of eggshell and lacquer wall panels for the smoking room of a Parisian apartment (estimate 2-3 million Euro), a 1929 "ski chaise au Maharadjah" (estimate 2-3 million Euro) or a prestigeous lacquer and chrome semi-circular "Tardieu" desk and chair (estimate 2-3 million Euro)! Clearly this is not furniture for your average dorm room but it is fun to see! The sale takes several days and runs through the end of March.
When a sudden rainstorm soaks the streets it is time to dash back and get ready for the evening. Perhaps it will dry up enough to allow for an aperitif at an outdoor café before dinner. Bon appetite!