Thursday, November 1, 2012
Ile Saint Louis, a small island in the Seine River, is the geographic and historical heart of Paris. To help in my exploration of Paris, I consulted a Paris Sketchbook, illustrated by Ronald Searle and written by his wife Kaye Webb. My Paris map had a series of stickers marking the spots where Searle had sketched. This quiet Parisian street, Ouai d'Anjou was my first stop. The green door, number 9, was once the entry to the home and studio of one of my favorite artists, Honore Daumier. A small plaque next to the entry commemorated the spot. His loose spontaneous sketches of politicians and Parisian life are stunning, satirical and still relevant today. At the Musee d'Orsay, I had seen some wonderful sculptures Daumier did of politicians busts. They were exaggerated and lively. Of all the art I saw in Paris, I believe those busts were my favorite. I sat very close to where Ronald must have sat when he did his sketch. He didn't sketch any cars which made his sketch rather timeless so I also ignored the automotive clutter. Ronald had added architectural details like extra chimneys to his sketch and I began to understand what he found appealing and lively in the scene. Over 60 years had passed, but I was learning from a master.
School children hurried home along the cobbled walkway. An elderly man was out for his afternoon stroll. While the rest of Paris rushed and hurried, this little island seemed serine, except for the tourists looking for Notre Dame. Life ebbed and flowed along with the river current, much as it had hundreds of years ago. Terry had wandered off to explore the rest of the island and to walk among all the shops. She got a little lost trying to find her way back to this spot. I was so lost in the sketch and the moment that I didn't notice the time fly by. We went to a bustling cafe and then continued to explore.