Today I have the honour of joining Anita's Parisian Party at Castles, Crowns and Cottages although I am a little fashionably late in arriving as it officially started yesterday!
I love Paris. It must be in my blood. My mother was born in Paris and told me tales of her grand-parents' appartment overlooking the gardens of Versailles. I have inherited an uncanny fondness for the smell of the Parisian metro from my aunt who lives with my uncle opposite the Sorbonne and who still continues to catch a whiff of the fetid metro air with relish at the grand age of eighty three. The years spent in Paris were the happiest of my life and I believe that my decision to write a thesis on seventeenth-century Parisian gardens and theatre aesthetics was based on a need to return to the capital regularly.
Every day on my way to work I would walk through the lime tree lined avenues of the Palais Royal gardens. The sweet fragrance of those flower-laden trees was intoxicating in spring. Aren't those linear alleys with their regularly planted trees quintessentially French?
I recall comparing such views to the stage scenery I had seen time and time again at the opera.
|Seventeenth-century drawing, possibly by Jean Berain, for the Prologue to Aricie|
In eighteenth-century theatre design gardens were much favoured and often associated with architecture. The picture below, taken from the Palais Royal galéries, could very well be the backdrop to an opera or ballet.Look at the regularly positioned columns in the scenery design below:
|Le Palais d'Amour in Lully's Pysché performed in 1678|
French painters, such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Antoine Watteau, depicted garden scenes in which their characters danced, walked, and fell in love. The latter's Fêtes galantes is a beautiful example. One century later the poet Paul Verlaine wrote a series of poems named Fêtes galantes. He drew his inspiration from the painter's work, of course, but also the Parisian royal gardens such as Versailles, Marly, and Saint-Cloud. In several of these poems Verlaine makes use of the tree-lined garden avenues as a place for his characters to play their roles. The poem below, translated into English, is a perfect example of the theatrical aspect of Parisian public gardens:
As in the age of shepherd king and queen,
Painted and frail amid her nodding bows,
Under the sombre branches and between
The green and mossy garden-ways she goes,
With little mincing airs one keeps to pet
A darling and provoking perroquet.
Her long-trained robe is blue, the fan she holds
With fluent fingers girt with heavy rings,
So vaguely hints of vague erotic things
That her eye smiles, musing among it folds.
- Blonde too, a tiny nose, a rosy mouth,
Artful as that sly patch that makes more sly,
In her divine unconscious pride of youth,
The slightly simpering sparkle of the eye.
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
translated by Arthur Symons
|This picture is taken from Le Poème Harmonique's website. Take a peek as their Baroque operas and plays are truly exquisite; completely candlelit!|
I have drawn inspiration from garden avenues, rows upon rows of leafy trees, and the colours of Baroque opera. Who could not?The rows and alleys here are our neighbouring vineyards in Vouvray as we could not make it to Paris; sorry Anita! The colours are reminiscent of my favourite opera, Cadmus et Hermione, Jean-Baptise Lully's first opera to be performed in Paris in 1673 and much favoured by Louis XIV. The DVD of this work is A WORK OF ART!
The pattern I have knitted is Scalene. It's asymmetrical composition is a perfect definition of the word baroque which derives from the Portuguese word denoting an irregular pearl.
The yarn is Madelinetosh DK in Fragrance and Olivia.
The model is Héloïse, of course, who will be performing on stage tonight a ballet named Promenade à Paris.
Details are on Ravelry.
Thank you so much Anita for inviting me to your Parisian Party.