This post about the royal palace of Fontainebleau and that extended wing of the Louvre called the Musee des Arts Decoratifs has, I would think, an unexpected title. It expresses a strategy that I use when I am out and about: the larger the place, the more one should concentrate on the small stuff. I am looking for the real spirit of the place, the times and the people, and it can often be found in those small things.
We have been visiting the past and especially the seventeenth century. We drove out to Fontainebleau on the weekend, another field trip to the past, and a stellar opportunity to bone up on the history of French monarchy. Napoleon (there’s a joke here – Bone up, “Boney”, but I can’t think what it is) who had his pick of the French royal abodes, spent a lot of time there and called it, “The true home of kings.” Indeed French royals lived there continuously from the 12th c. to the end of the 19th.
In terms of materials, this hat and coat may be amongst the least precious objects at Fontainebleau. But they summon the man with a wrenching immediacy. As does his campaign bed. He spent far too much time on it.
Grand spaces abound at Fontainebleau.
Francois I (same period as England’s Henry VIII) built this massive ballroom. For some reason, he believed that he had to reinforce the grand gesture with a series of small ones.
Everywhere at Fontainebleau, small things draw the eye.
Outside, is a massive park with statuary.
On to more time travel and a first visit – to the Musee des Arts Decoratifs – housed in a wing of the Louvre. At first, it didn’t seem that different from the Louvre proper. Lots of Fine Art is there.
Fabulous sculpture, isn’t it. Takes the gallic shrug to a new level.
We often hear that the devil is in the details. But I would side with the great Vladimir Nabokov who wrote, “there is no delight without the detail” (thanks Tom).