Memories of France captured in paintings

Oct 8, 2010

Water Lilies, Claude Monet, 1914.

I miss France.  We spent a few weeks of our summer in '98 traveling all over the country. I still have so many vivid memories from the trip.  Yesterday, I was looking through my pictures of France when I had a revelation of sorts.  Could it be that France is such a memorable place because of famous works of art that I had been exposed to? Strolling through Giverny, for example, it wasn't hard for me to see where Monet got his inspiration.  The pond and Japanese bridge were just like how he had painted them.  (The photos on the right are the pictures I took on my trip.) 

Café Terrace At Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888.

Vincent Van Gogh's paintings came alive in Arles.  When we were passing a vast sunflower field outside of town, we had to pull over and take some pictures up close.  I soon found myself standing amid these enormous flowers, and it was as if time stood still.  I could imagine Van Gogh, with his easel and palette, painting such a glorious scene. 

Above is Van Gogh's famous painting, Café Terrace At Night.  We were there only during the day, but you can see that even the tree still looks the same 110 years later!

Lake at Annecy, Paul Cezanne, 1890 - 1892.

My favorite city on our trip was Annecy, in the French Alps region.  The mountain air is crisp, and the lake is so clear. In many ways, it reminds me of Oregon (minus the gigantic castles on the water!).

When I think of mountainous landscapes in France, I think of Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cezanne. I love the serene setting that Cezanne captured in his painting Lake at Annecy.  Perfect!

The Jetty at Cassis, Opus 198, Paul Signac, 1889.

The most memorable moment of our trip was in Cassis, a small town on the Mediterranean.  My husband and I had the most amazing dining experience at a family-run Greek restaurant at the point of the pier.  The food was outrageously good, the hospitality was unforgettable, and the view was breathless.  

I rediscovered Paul Signac's painting of The Jetty at Cassis just yesterday.  (I find it startlingly similar to the photo I took on the beach!)  Signac's pointillist style is so fitting for such a beautiful coastal scene.

The Pont Neuf, Paris, Pierre-Auguste Renior, 1872.

Walking through the streets of Paris was an amazing experience.  I took this photo of the city atop of Notre Dame.  It seems like the cityscape hasn't changed much since Renior's 1872 rendering- minus one major attraction.  The Eiffel Tower wasn't built until 1889.

The beautiful surroundings and rich cultural history of France has been an inspiration to artists for many centuries.  One day, I'll be back- maybe even for an extended stay.  Until then, I'll continue to relive my wonderful time in France through photographs and paintings.


Craig said...

Very nice, brings back memories. We've traveled some of the same roads, including Cassis. Did you get to see Cezanne's studio. It's wonderful.

Michelle Summers said...


Okay so this is what happened, I wondered onto your blog from a random Google search and before long I was hooked. I have been looking though your blog for the past 3 days and finally finished peering though them all..< Mostly looking but I did read too>. Anyways thank you for posting such amazing images and information, I was memorized. I am also a Portland artist person too so if you are at the crafty wonderland sale this winter come by and say hello. I make ceramics mostly and dabble in everything else. Have a good weekend,

Michelle Summers

HomeCollection. said...

Very interesting comparaison!

Cathy said...

Craig, we were able to visit a pottery studio in Cassis but missed Cezanne's place. Sigh. I would only expect it to be wonderful.

Michelle, I am so flattered and amazed that you were able to get through all the posts in such a short time! I took a peek at your blog, and I love what you're doing with ceramics and drawing. One more great reason to make my way down to Crafty Wonderland ;)

Marion, thanks for reading! I've enjoyed following your blog.

Craig said...

Here is one photo of the inside:

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