Friday, Oct 12
I took a taxi to Place des Terreaux, a huge public square where I could visit Les Beaux Artes (Museum of Fine Art), the Lyon City Hall and the Bartholdi Fountain. The museum takes up
most of one side of the square. When you walk in, there is a large courtyard with statues, lots of flowers and trees and places to sit. I call one of the statues “Happy Boy” although I don’t think he should be quite that happy considering where his dog is. A covered walk way goes around three of the sides. They reminded me of the art school building in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The museum features old paintings. I was also able to see Rodin’s The Kiss and The Thinker.
The Sisters of Jesus and Mary commissioned an Italian artist, Barbieri, to paint The Circumcision of Jesus, for their main alter. It was
finished on January 1, 1646.
Another side of the square is what the taxi driver told me was the Opera House but is actually the Lyon City Hall. Can you imagine that as your city’s government building? Amazing. It’s gold inlaid and one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. There are gods and goddesses carved at the roofline. I didn’t have time to go inside but I can guess its beauty.
The other two sides of the square are made up of a hotel, galleries, restaurants and shops. On one of those sides is a gigantic sculpture of a woman, naked from the waist up, driving a chariot pulled by four huge, grotesquely violent horses. The sculptor created them in such a way that water sprays out of the horses’ nostrils making it look like they’re snorting steam. The woman is looking down at a child on her right side while another child at her left side looks like he’s trying to reach up to her
but is on the verge of drowning. Hundreds of gallons of water pour down over the intricately designed fountain. This fountain/statue was not meant to
be pretty, or at least I hope not, because in truth, it is quite frightening.
To quote an article on Wikipedia: “The fountain depicts France as a female seated on a chariot controlling the four great rivers of France, represented by wildly rearing and plunging horses, highly individualized but symmetrically arranged, with bridles and reins of water weeds. It weighs 21 tons and is made of lead supported by a frame of iron and was presented at the Exposition Universelle in1889. It has been classified as a Monument Historique since 29 September 1995.”
The French sculptor, Frédéric Bartholdi, also designed the Statue of Liberty standing in New York harbor. The original name of this statue was “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
I visited a lot of museums in my 2-1/2 weeks in France. As a full-time artist, I happen to like museums and I had enough alone time that Emily didn’t have to come along to all of them. She and Tom went to the two museums in Paris: the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay. Just on this page you can see a painting from 1646, a fountain that was unveiled in 1889 and the City Hall dedicated in 1891. One more thing about Lyon – actually there is so much more about Lyon! – is that it was the home of Antoine de St Exupery who wrote The Little Prince.
Until next time
Susan L Stewart