Paris 1900

Paris 1900

In spite of the title, we are still in Nashville though by the time you read this, we will probably be well on our way home.


We began the day in what has become the usual way, catching the free green shuttle to The Gulch where we’d planned to return to Milk and Honey for breakfast. As we boarded the bus, the same driver as the last two days was sitting in the cab. “‘Morning Sir, Maam….where you going today?” By the time we’d had breakfast and returned to the bus stop to take the same route a little further on, it was he who arrived once again. “How was your breakfast?” he asked. Pretty good actually and plenty to see us through the day - we’d saved the Frist Art Museum for this morning and as the bus arrived at the stop, we said ‘bye and thanked him for the last time.

The Frist is in the former Post Office headquarters, by the Union Station which, just as in St Louis, is now an hotel.


Still bitterly cold, there was not quite so much of a breeze today and the sunshine was enough to add a degree or two.


The sky was a glorious shade of blue, too.


Inside the museum there’s a wonderful Art Deco hallway, a bit gloomy but with light on either side and plenty of reflections from the shiny surfaces. We were heading for the main exhibition, Paris 1900 and would then take it from there depending on what time we had left.


First impressions were good. As soon as we stepped inside we saw that the exhibition was of paintings, photographs, prints, fashion and decorative objects which were representative of the city at the turn of the century.


In one of the rooms a docent was chatting about a variety of different aspects on the items on show, including the artist depicted in the poster above: La Loie Fuller. I had not heard of her, but following the suggestion, found a video of her act


Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few things in the exhibit of craftsmanship that might have found their way home with me, save for the fact that they were firmly fixed inside the cabinets!


The next room focused on the Exposition of 1900 and included a film of the event created by the Lumiere Brothers, which we could have watched several times over. Wisely, perhaps, the gallery didn’t provide chairs, or else we might still be there.


Here were posters, paintings and photographs showing the Belle Epoque in all its glory. This large painting was hung in the prime position, well lit to show it off to best effect too. One face shone out and I felt sure that was the intention, so looked at the caption to find out more.


Sure enough, the answer was to be found there - though I feel her head doesn’t look quite right, does it? (Is it too big? Was it painted afterwards, do you think?)


She is most certainly posing!


We moved on to a series of theatre and nightclub-related objects including this sign from Le Chat Noir, which had been beautifully lit, I thought.


My favourite room of all was the one focused on La Parisienne though. Here was a beautiful collection of pretty things.


A beautifully embroidered bolero jacket


a cute little hat


and a well appointed workbox with all the needlework tools needed for a few small repairs and a little decorative embroidery. Beautiful.


I think we both felt sorry to find ourselves back where we started, having seen all of the exhibit there was to see. We moved on to the second floor and felt less inspired by the offer there: Life Love and Marriage Chests of Renaissance Italy.


Sure enough, there was not a great deal to capture our imagination here and we felt that possibly the floor was the most interesting thing on show.


During the time of the Post Office in the building, a strong, resilient flooring was needed to accommodate those who would be on their feet for hours. Cross sections of timber were used to create the floor up here and over the years, the grain and patterns have become more beautiful with wear.


Actually, though the floor was indeed very lovely, one exhibit did catch my eye: this pair of shoes created to enable a fine lady to walk through mud and puddles without getting the hem of her dress dirty. Are they an early design of platform shoes, do you think?


One last room for us to poke our noses in. When the creators of the Frist included a hands on activity room, they didn’t restrict it to children, or “families” but made their intent clear “all ages”. So here was an opportunity for adults to enjoy a variety of creative media - watercolours, life drawing (with a mannequin rather than a live model) animation and printing. Just as I was standing, wishing we had more time to explore this room, I came to my senses and realised that I have a studio at home filled with all of these materials with which I could play at any time of my choosing! A gentle reminder…


It was now getting close to the time we needed to get back to the hotel, to pack up and head off to the airport. We decided take a quick look next door, at the old station first though. I’ll share more about that when we are home…. British Airways is calling us now.

No station left behind

No station left behind

The Athens of the South

The Athens of the South