Newnham at the LITTLE palace
As regular readers of the blog will remember, thanks to some very generous donations, we take our Newnham final year students for an educational day trip to Paris before their exams (a day trip also has the very useful effect of wearing them out, and inducing a solidly good night's sleep). The usual plan is to go to the Louvre. But this year we just had to go to the Augustus exhibition at the Grand Palais. There they are, plus my colleague Paola, above.
This was my third visit, having seen it once in Rome and once in Paris. But, yes, you do always see new things. On this occasion that "new-ness" was helped by meeting by chance at the show my old friend Valérie Huet, so the students got the most expert explanation of the "Louvre Suovetaurilia" (sacrifice of a pig, ram and bull; above) that it was possible to have in the world (it was a big topic in Valérie's doctoral thesis).
The question was what should we do after the Augustus exhibition and a lunch (had to be some further bit of improving culture!).
That end of the Champs Elysées is not the end of Paris I know best, if at all. So after a bit of discussion, Paola ( a better Parisienne than me) and I decided to go for the Petit Palais just across the road from the Grand. I had been there before, but only I think to a temporary exhibition many years ago. I hadn't actually known that there was a permanent collection, which is free and which you can access by -- entirely legitimately -- jumping the queue for the temporary shows.
Anyway, it was well worth the stop. There are good things in the classical collection (including one of the best vases with women (?) wielding phalluses that I have ever seen), and (left) some really extraordinary Gallo-Roman bronzes, of emperors and local dignitaries.
But there was much much more than classical: some great late nineteenth-century French medieval revival, a lot of Courbets, and other things from the turn of the twentieth century. We were all particularly taken by the slightly repulsive, but a bit wondrous, portrait of a women with a monkey (on the right).
I am afraid (or pleased) to say that pretty much at that point we felt we were all too knackered for more art and went back to the Gare du Nord, had a slightly chilly drink outside, doing the Paris café thing.. then to the train home. (Luckily I do it quite often, so my card let us all go into the Euro-lounge and read the magazines, as you can see!). Wish them good luck for their exams please. And tell them to be bloody, bold and resolute, not "good girls". Sorry about the gendering, but there you go.