One of my readers asked me if I produce a painting especially for each blog post. My answer was “sometimes, but not always”. The painting here was made in 2010, before I started this blog. It was accepted at the 27th salon des artistes, of the 15th arrondissement of Paris. The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the arrondissement, so naturally the theme of the salon that year was it’s history.
I had several months to consider what to submit for this show. The 15th is one of the largest arrondissements in Paris and has an interesting history, which I began to research. My idea was to fit 150 years onto one large canvas, but how to do that? I was in the States over the summer and was inspired by the work of Thomas Hart Benton, the American regional painter. It’s amazing how he can pack so much history and action into a painting. So I decided to give it a try.
I roughly divided the four quarters of the canvas to the four “quartiers” of the 15th arrondissement. Quarter Saint-Lambert is to the south. Here you have an ancient Roman road which leads to the village of Vaugirard. There once existed a quarry and a vineyard, as well as an abatoire, or slaughterhouse.
In the east, in quartier Necker, is the Montparnasse tower, an office tower. Not most people’s favorite Parisian landmark, but definitely part of the 15th. Also Hôpital Necker, a children’s hospital, where my son Samuel had his tonsils removed, when he was three years old.
To the north is the river Seine, with a series of modern apartment buildings and office towers. This is quartier Grenelle.
Finally, to the west is quartier Javel. Here was invented Eau de Javel (laundry bleach). This was also the location of other industrial companies, including Citroën (my Citroën is driving down the Roman road). Today you’ll find a heliport and a television tower.
The building in the upper right of the painting is the mairie (town hall) of the 15th arrondissement, where the salon was held.
Oh, I also included a self-portrait…