FRENCH ART and how one French woman contributed to history….

THE MONUMENTS MEN

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Ghent Altarpiece

Did you know that during World War II, the Nazis executed the greatest art heist in history?  It was left to a special Allied military unit, the Monuments Men,  to get Europe’s priceless cultural treasures back.

An organization with established initiative beginning with President Franklin D. Roosevelt and with General Dwight D. Eisenhower repeatedly ordering his forces to assist the MFAA (also known as Monuments Men) as much as possible, it was the first time in history an army attempted to fight a war and at the same time reduce damage to cultural monuments and property.

ADOLF HITLERS ORDERS

 Before Adolf Hitler became the German dictator that he was he had a much different passion and that was ART.  But after Vienna’s Academy of Fine Arts rejected a teenage Hitler for his “unfitness for painting,” his singular dream of becoming an artist was crushed.

The Academy in Vienna

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Hitler’s interest in art never waned which became evident when he led the Nazis in a very deliberate systematic looting of famous works of art.  His goal was to not only rob millions of people of their lives and futures, but wanted to strip them of their past as well.

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Hitler’s forces plundered priceless paintings, sculptures, drawings, religious relics and cultural artifacts from all over Europe (France, Poland, Italy and so on).  His loyalists went into churches, private homes, universities etc and collected everything of value.  He was especially committed to collecting art from Jewish families.  He acquired musical instruments, entire libraries, Torahs, church bells and stained glass right out of the Strasbourg Cathedral.Image result for small images of strasbourg cathedral

France. Strassbourg Cathedral. "The largest clock you'll probably ever see is inside. It's amazing to watch it working."

However, with the foresight of a French woman named Rose Valland and the establishment of the Monuments Men, a group of approximately 345 men and women from fourteen nations comprised of museum directors, curators, art historians, archivists, architects, educators, and artists that served with one common goal: to save cultural treasures from the destructiveness of war, and theft by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

Rose Valland ( 1898 – 1980 )Image result for image of rose valland

 

The unassuming heroine of French culture during World War II, Rose Valland was born in Saint-Étienne-de-Saint-Geoirs, France on November 1, 1898.   She was extremely well educated in art with degrees from École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and advanced degrees in art history from the École du Louvre and the Sorbonne in Paris!

In 1941 she became curator of Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris.  In 1942 the Nazis over took the museum and made it their headquarters for ERR, the Nazi art looting organization created by Hitler.

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This organization stored paintings and other works of art stolen from private French collectors and dealers.  Jacques Jaujard, Director of the French National Museums including the Louvre, immediately instructed Valland to remain at her post in the museum to spy on the Nazi theft operation.  What she did in addition to that is the reason many pieces of art are back with their rightful owners today.

Her quiet demeanor kept her under the radar and unsuspected as she carefully and secretly kept meticulous notes on the destinations of train car shipments filled with looted art from all over France.

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What the Germans also did not know was that she spoke the German language allowing her to gather critical information from the conversations of drivers, guards, and packers, which she relayed to Jaujard and the French Résistance.

Paris was liberated by the American forces late August 1944 – this liberation placed Valland in an even more serious situation because of the enormous amount of information she had collected that was in her personal possession.

The information she collected would serve as a treasure map for Capt. James Rorimer, with the Monuments Men, who had orders to recover as much stolen art as possible.  Her information would serve them in finding multiple repositories of looted art in the Neuschwanstein Castle in the Bavarian Alps — All of which was stolen by the Nazis from private collectors and art dealers in and around France!!

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Thousands of pieces of art were also found in copper mines and salt mines.

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The notes of Rose Valland alone were instrumental in expediting the restitution process of returning objects to their rightful owners with well over 5 million pieces being returned to their rightful owners.

“Art belongs to humanity. Without this we are animals. 
We just fight, we live, we die. Art is what makes us human”.
– Mikhail Piotrovsky, Director, Hermitage Museum 

A MUST SEE MOVIE for enjoyment:

our poetic license [was] we wanted to let these guys have some flaws and have some fun. … Listen, the good news is, 80 percent of the story is still completely true and accurate, and almost all of the scenes happened. Sometimes they happened with other characters, sometimes it happened in smaller dimension. But that’s moviemaking. -George Clooney (Entertainment Weekly, August 12, 2013)

A modern day movie based on some events of the Monuments Men:  History Vs. Hollywood
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WE GIVE THIS FIVE STARS!!!
If you love art, have an appreciation for history and enjoy preservation – please, we invite you to visit our website:  http://www.crownandcolony.com and view our French paintings and architectural elements (click on Paintings and Decorative Accessories)  Purchases can be made through Crown and Colony  251-928-4808
**Any pictures depicting this historical remembrance were borrowed from internet sites for educational purposes only and we thank all who generously make these available for us to learn from**

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

AUBUSSON TAPESTRY

The Enchanting Town of AUBUSSON

Aubusson is a commune in the Creuse region in central France where since at least the 16th century, Aubusson has been famed for its manufacture of carpets and tapestries. A national school of decorative arts founded in 1869 still maintains high standards of hand looming and remains to this day the principal occupation of the town.

History of the Aubusson Tapestry

It is thought that tapestry production emerged in Aubusson about 600 years ago; many historians date it to 1457.  Today that heritage is celebrated in the Aubusson Tapestry Museum and the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie Aubusson, where you’ll discover an incredible collection of old and new tapestries.

Here the importance of understanding how the tapestry begins with raising of sheep and the spinning and dying of wool to the creation of images and their weaving into an extraordinary array of tapestries is shared and carried on by well trained weavers.

 Twelve weavers (lissiers in French) are admitted every two years to the Cité’s two-year program for budding weavers.  It typically takes well over 10 years to become a “master weaver”.

 In order to be considered an Aubusson, a tapestry needn’t be woven in the town itself, but anywhere within Creuse. The two main centers of creation, however, are Aubusson and Felletin.

Tapestries were only for the rich, royalty, aristocrats, Bishops and the like. Tapestries were hung on walls and warmed up the palaces and manor houses of the wealthy and added colour. The tapestries were status symbols and were uniquely designed to impress.  Aubusson workshops worked in collaboration with renowned painters, whose drawings were used as models for the creation of masterpieces.

The traditional Aubusson tapestries are known for their iconic Verdures or garden tapestries.  

This style, mainly based on plant decoration such as trees and foliage, remained highly popular over the centuries.    Aubusson tapestries represent hunting scenes

and scenes of unicorn,

wild boar, wolf and even lion!

The Design of the Tapestry

Miniature paintings or maquettes

were used which the weaver had to interpret and typically had in front of them as a guide.  However, by the 17th century, life sized paintings were placed directly under the warp (chaîne) so the weaver could recreate the painting more accurately.  Weavers in Aubusson don’t see their finished tapestry until it is removed from the loom because they work on the reverse side of the tapestry, which is also why the cartoon

(painting being recreated by the weaver)

is presented backwards underneath the warp. This cartoon of the man and lions is a beautiful example.

Below is a tapestry (circa 1790) found at Crown and Colony Antiques We invite you to come and visit our shop and view this exquisite wonder of wool and silk craftsmanship.  This particularly large tapestry took years to make.

Special closeups of the tapestry:  The face of the woman is petite point and you can see on the petal of the flower a repair that was beautifully done.

The back of this particular tapestry seems to be a heavy cotton, while linen or a blend of both were used as well.

Religious scenes were very popular prompting numerous tapestries to be woven that represented mythological scenes and scenes from the life of the saints, and the Old Testament.

Whether you recognize the beauty in an antique aubusson or newly made you can be assured of the flat weave that is trademark of the aubusson.

Even furniture has been covered in the flat weave of the aubusson.

And newly made pillows in the aubusson flat weave are beautiful.  These are from Crown and Colony Antiques.$208 Ea. 217-9008 Brown and Aqua aubusson wool pillows 20 x 20

$295 Ea. 217-9005 Blue, brown and cream aubusson down filled pillow 20x20

The French Revolution Changes the face of production!

The manufacture and its marvelous productions were ransacked and burned during the Revolution because objects of the rich were very frowned upon.

The weaving workshops fortunately reopened a few years later under the Napoleonic Empire, but with less production.  The creation of large wall tapestries was discontinued and gave way to the production of small rugs.  These more ‘ordinary’ creations revived the tapestry industry and saved the craft from ruin.  Unfortunately, the spirit of creation was dulled.

The business of weaving went from thousands of professional weavers to around 50.  Today, those small few work mostly in private ateliers.

Aubusson’s today

Some of the small group of weavers work in Aubusson to this day weaving what is considered a rich man’s product, costing around Euros 2000 – 3000 per m² to commission a tapestry.  This price is dictated by the fact that the making of a tapestry is a hard physical job to do, pushing with arms and legs for 12 hours a day.  And given the fact it can take at least ten years for a person to become a master weaver.

The tapestries depict scenes of their day, mysteries, legends and life in France through colour, style and the images. There are some tapestries on display that are even quite cheeky!  A tapestry that might depict a rural party enjoying a seesaw (baloncaire) was apparently quite risqué, because it was designed to allow viewers to look up the skirts of the ladies!

Under French law, tapestry editions must be limited to 6 copies, and usually also one for the artist and one for the workshop. You can tell where it was made as each tapestry is edged in a specific color relating to the town around Aubusson where it originated. Tapestries also have a bolduc (weavers mark) on a front corner or on the reverse, which would be a small piece of tissue or paper bearing the name of the artist, the title, dimensions, the name of the workshop and often the date.

Aubusson tapestries are the gold standard throughout the world.  If you have the privilege to view one or even more exciting “own” one you are among the privileged few.

Some pictures were borrowed for educational purposes only from www.thegoodlifefrance.com, oldplank.com, pinterest, 1st Dibs, francevisited.com and museum pictures from the museums in Aubusson France

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

 

 

Market Days in Provence

Market Days in Provence

 Visiting the L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Sunday Market

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue means the island on the river Sorgue. It is the crystal-clear Sorgue which gave birth to the town, the water wheels scattered about provide the clue. The wheels drove textile mills, and the textile business is the source of the wealth still evident in the architecture.  The economy of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is no longer driven by the river, but by antiques.

In the Luberon area in the Provence region of France lies the largest outdoor market, The L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Sunday Market.  It begins around 9 a.m. on Sundays only.

It is a food market, flea market and antique market all rolled into one.  It is so versatile one can purchase basic vegetables to fine art!  This market is located in the town that is nicknamed “Venice of Provence” because of its proximity to the Sorgue River.  It is also well known as being the second largest antique center in France — the first being Paris, of course.

The best way to experience any of these markets is to stay close by and spend a couple of days, taking your time to walk through and take it all in.    One of the nicest places to stay near Isle sur la Sorgue is the stunning hotel, Bastide de Gordes.   Spacious rooms, impeccable service and an excellent restaurant.   A luxurious address in the South, but certainly not the only option for this area.  With your own research you can find accommodations at varying price points to match any budget.

French Open Air Markets

Open air markets or le marche (le mar-shay) are always held in the mornings, some starting at 7 a.m. and open until noon or 1 p.m.  There are countless Open Air Markets in France, but these mentioned in this post are all in the Provence region of France.

These markets are alive with traditional crafts and is generated by the visitors who visit that are looking specifically for genuine locally produced items.

There are so many “good” laws in France and one in particular is that price tags must state the origin of all produce – so be on the look out for the word “du pays” which means local.

Pezenas Market

A special market favorite of the Fargasons is the market at Pezenas which runs all day on Saturday. It is colorful, picturesque and a good general market.  This is the one and only market to visit on a Saturday in the Languedoc Roussillon region.  According to Ann Fargason, “this market takes over the whole town and offers a wonderful array of artisanale food, clothing, flowers and general nic-nacs.  This is the place to be!”

Below you can see how picturesque the streets are in route to market.

Ann says, “It does get extremely popular in the summer, but is well worth it for the atmosphere.  It is in the heart of the former capital of Languedoc, but the market best sums up what Pezenas is all about.”

An arial view of the market in the town of Pezenas

Getting from Paris to Provence

High-speed TGV http://www.francetravelguide.com/tgv-taking-frances-high-speed-train trains run directly from Paris to Aix-en-Provence in as little as three hours. Almost all trains on this route are TGV Duplex services so you can choose between upper deck and lower deck seating. Opt for the top level for the best views.

Where is Pezenas, France?

Pezenas is located in the South of France. It’s about an hour’s drive from Montpellier, and 20 km (about 12 miles) northeast of the town of Beziers. The nearest train station is at Beziers.  You can see in this map how close you are to the Mediterranean Sea.

Where is Sourge, France?

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is located just 25 km from Avignon, and is just 70 km (approx 43 miles) from Marseille.

There is no direct train into the city center of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. However, those who want to come shop the markets here can easily get to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue without a car. There are a few different bus lines that connect L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue with nearby Avignon (which is also on a TGV line for those wishing to travel by high-speed train).

This post was just a tid bit of information on a couple of markets in France – We hope the few links provided will jump start your “market adventure”.  In order to find a market where you might be staying in France just do a little research beforehand or contact the concierge at your hotel or apartment building.  Experiencing the local customs truly does make France irresistible.

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

 

WINE ~ BURGUNDY, FRANCE

Ever dream of exploring wine country in France?     

Exploring France in a different way allows you to see France as a real local.  Biking just might be something to consider! Burgundy France is one of the best areas to visit, housing some of the best wine vineyards in the world — French wine in the Burgundy area is superior!

A potential scenario of wine selections

The adventure begins upon arrival via train in Beaune, France.  Nestled inside massive fourteenth-century ramparts, this medieval town is the wine capital of Burgundy —  BEAUNE!

WINE TIP:   the wines in Burgundy are made from one grape – Pinot Noir

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If you do choose to bike through wine country you might find yourself on a leisurely ride through the vineyards and villages of of Cote De Beaune.  Here you could just possibly have your first sip of wine, which more than likely be the sparkling Cremant De Bourgogne.

WINE TIP:   visits to BEAUNE  increases in November for the annual wine auction, run by Christies.  The finest of wines are dragged from the basements and sold to the general public.

Beaune France

From there wine tastings in Meursault with Pommard, a hearty, but elegant wine to enliven the palate — the sophisticated Volnay wine and a buttery Meursault.

Excellent wines of choice…

Crémant de Bourgogne is a perfect pre-dinner drink, and in no way takes away from the fact that it is also a perfect accompaniment to food.  With the white and roses only  from this area being sparkling,  meticulously applied traditional skills from 1830 are enforced to achieve high-quality vinification.

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Pommard wine, a rich and “wild” red wine, gives aromatic hints redolent of blackberry, bilberry, or gooseberry, cherry pit and ripe plum! It is a wine deep red in colour, powerfully aromatic, solid and trustworthy.  It collaborates well with furry or feathered game, braised or roasted.   As well beefsteak, lamb or hearty stewed poultry responds well with this wine.  It is also a natural partner for cheeses that have developed flavours such as:  Époisses, Langres and Soumaintrain, or Comté.

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Volnay wine is a delicate and feminine wine of Bourgogne.  Almost like biting in to a piece of fruit this wine has aromas of cherries, violets and perhaps gooseberries.  With time and aging it may give hints of different spices and cooked prunes.  This wine does well with glazed or roasted poultry dishes, which can receive the fruit and spice aromas of the wine.

 Meursault wine has a fresh taste of toasted almonds or hazelnuts with back flavors of mayflower, lime, elder and verbena — butter, honey and citrus fruits faintly present as well. It accompanies fish, veal and poultry very as well as grilled lobster, crawfish, or king prawns in sauce. Even blue cheeses and foie gras take to it immediately.

France is famous for its generous selection of wines – whites, sparklings, reds — sweet, dry, etc.  Whether you tour France on a bike through vineyards for complete immersion in the wine culture or if you just order a glass of wine in a Paris bistro, you will not be disappointed!

Our French culinary shop, Aubergines, plays host to many accessories of wine.  You might be in the market for a wine corker if you make your own wine, or if you like the rustic initial wine making process you might afford yourself one of our grape baskets or demi johns used for the fermentation of wine.

Adding any of these to your wine table or kitchen make for great conversation pieces.

WINE CORKER

GRAPE BASKET

Original use for the grape basket…

DEMIJOHN

FRENCH WINE GLASSES – are always in abundance at Aubergines!

Come visit our shops and see how much we have in stock from France that can make opening a simple bottle of wine fun and interesting!

Aubergine Antiques located at 315 De La Mare Ave. Fairhope, AL 36532 or call us at 251-928-0902

http://www.crownandcolony.com

CHEERS!   À Votre Santé!!

Au Revoir!  A La Prochaine!!

 

 

 

 

IMARI PORCELAIN

Imari Ware and its special connection with France

The Japanese porcelain industry was actually pioneered by Korean potters living in Japan– Many of who came to Japan during two hostile invasions of Korea.

Continue reading “IMARI PORCELAIN”