Paris: Day 4  – Bonnard

There is an incredible exhibit at the Musée D’Orsay of Pierre Bonnard.  

The exhibit nearly did me in.  There were pieces from all over the world, but photos were only possible of those from Paris.  I’ll have to share later, because those are on my camera rather than my phone.

By the way… not all museum audio guides are good, but do use the guide at the Musée D’Orsay.   It’s helpful.  I work museums systematically until I know them well, taking lots of notes and even sketching in my Moleskine books.

 A couple famous pieces by Millet.  I’ve always liked The Gleaners, with its contrast of abundance and poverty, the mounted horseman in the background.

The Angelus.  Millet seems not to have been observant but his grandmother would always stop to pray the Angelus three times a day. That piety shows through here.  


From the deck.


I am starting to like Cézanne more and more.

Both Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe in one view.  


Break time …. apéro…


Then a visit to the Church of St Thomas Aquinas near the Rue du Bac.

Again, let’s all play “What’s wrong with this picture?”  



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Please say a prayer for Gae Aulenti , who did the design work that allowed a train station to become an art museum.

  2. Is that an actual butcher block? Right in the middle of the floor in a church? Whatever for?

  3. ppb says:

    I once went to Mass in that church, S. Thomas d’Aquin! I remember being impressed with the dome and being curious about its provenance and architecture. The altar-whatever-it-is did not inspire such interest, however.

  4. iPadre says:

    The butcher block looks like the one in the Jesu in Rome.

  5. edm says:

    “Again, let’s all play ‘What’s wrong with this picture?'”
    Oh! Oh! Pick me! Pleasee, pick me! I know the answer!!! (hand raised high)

    Sad, but so frequently seen…

  6. clarinetist04 says:

    France and Belgium are the worst with those ugly altars.

  7. Chon says:

    Fr. Z, I’m wondering if you’ve gone to Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, to pay your respects to the patron saint of Paris? Though most of her relics were thrown into the Seine during the revolution, some were saved. Ste. Genevieve is awesome.

  8. Michael_Thoma says:

    silly me, I thought it was a sarcophagus until reading the comments!

  9. That 1970’s altar is ugly as sin.

  10. mburn16 says:

    Bizarre. It would appear the Church already had two altars – a high altar against the wall and this more central (rather catafalque-ish) altar in the center.

    Why the third?

  11. Ignoramus I says:

    A little help, if you please. The Millet painting “The Gleaners” reminded me of the telling of how Ruth was made known to Boaz, by gleaning after the reapers in the fields of Boaz. So beautifully it unfolds. The fruit of this union being of course , Obed- father of Jesse, the father of David, thence Our Blessed Lord. I wonder if perhaps in Millet’s painting that is Ruth among the gleaners, and Boaz with his men and their mounts. This, especially, as he also created “The Angelus”.

  12. Phil_NL says:

    I haven’t been to the Musee d’Orsay in nearly 20 years, but the one painting there that struck me as a youngster was “The excommunication of Robert the pious” Not just a Catholic theme, but somehow the painter managed to put in the eyes of both Robert and his wife a conviction that this was a very serious matter indeed, nicely providing the contrast between the faith of this king – for which he was commended – and the fact he still arrived at an sentence of excommunication.

    The site doesn’t really do it justice, buthere’s the link anyway:
    ( )

  13. Phil_NL says:

    PS: though in terms of historical accuracy, it’s drivel, and not just because there are eight centuries between event and painting. The excommunication was never confirmed by the pope; Robert repudiated his marriage (which was cosanguinous) before the excommunication took effect. Probably also because the marriage had failed to produce an heir…

  14. Gratias says:

    Thank you Père Z for taking us with in your travels. The Angelus by Millet is such a Catholic picture. I have never prayed the Angelus nor know how to. Would be a kind thing for you to teach your e-flock how to pray it.

  15. JonPatrick says:

    Gratias, check this out:

    Although during Eastertide, the custom is to pray the Regina Caeli in place of it:

  16. Mike says:

    Is that an altar or a (covered, and still, it would seem, out-of-place) baptismal font?

  17. “France and Belgium are the worst with those ugly altars.”

    Reflecting the fidelity (or lack thereof) of their people, priests, and bishops?

  18. Auggie says:

    Millet’s Angelus inspires one to pray the Angelus. Now that is an inspiring work of art!

  19. jbpolhamus says:

    The “Butcher’s Block” altar look. Gold, silver, or wood, it’s a disgrace.

  20. MAJ Tony says:

    Germany will give the French and Belgians a run for their money with their concrete altars that look like they sprung from the same oak St. Boniface cut down.

  21. remindme says:

    It might be an altar described in Exodus 27:1: “You shall make the altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits broad; the altar shall be square, and its height shall be three cubits.” :-)

  22. remindme says:

    But seriously, it IS ugly!

  23. KateD says:

    mburn16 – well it’s obvious…the altar against the wall, is the Holy of Holies/Priest’s Altar, the second altar is the Women’s Altar (obvious if you’ve ever been to a OF Mass), and the third altar is the Altar of the Gentiles.

  24. remindme,

    You left out the rest of the description of that altar Exodus 27:2-8:

    “. . . You shall make horns for it on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it, and you shall overlay it with bronze. You shall make pots for it to receive its ashes, and shovels and basins and forks and firepans; you shall make all its utensils of bronze. You shall also make for it a grating, a network of bronze; and on the net you shall make four bronze rings at its four corners. You shall set it under the ledge of the altar so that the net shall extend half-way down the altar. You shall make poles for the altar, poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with bronze; the poles shall be put through the rings, so that the poles shall be on the two sides of the altar when it is carried. You shall make it hollow, with boards. They shall be made just as you were shown on the mountain.”

    The altar in this picture was not made as a result of the direct instructions from God delivered to Moses.

    This isn’t even a cheap imitation.

  25. Ariseyedead says:

    Wow! I didn’t know that Cylons made altars, and now I even know what they look like!

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