Art Museums in Paris are far more than just the Louvre and d'Orsay and I was delighted to discover more and more during my second visit to Paris in 2008.
Not far from d'Orsay, crossing the Seine through Pont Alexandre III, I arrived at a little gem, Petit Palais (Little Palace), which was showcasing Goya's cycle of "Disaster of War", monumental and deeply moving. However, I'll stick to my rule, and discuss in my blog only the permanent collections of the museum.
Under its ornate dome, the works on display were rather somber and gloomy, and that particular contrast increased the poignancy of those paintings. My favorite painting there actually was a group canvases named "La Bouchée de pain (The Mouthful of Bread)", a study for "Charity", by Ferdinand Emmanuel Pelez de Cordova, called Fernand Pelez. This study showed people, all male, in their prime or older ages, bogged down by toils and weariness, waited in line for a portion of charity bread. The pain of those unfortunate were illustrated by their slow gait and bent bodies, mostly in clear silhouette, against muted background, silent and stoic. The moving emotion was authentic and intense however understated. These canvases, though not small, felt intimate and one felt intruding on those people's privacy and dignity.
La Bouchée de pain (The Mouthful of Bread), études pour La Charité (study for Charity), 1892-1908, Ferdinand Emmanuel Pelez de Cordova, called Fernand Pelez
La Bouchée de pain (The Mouthful of Bread), études pour La Charité (study for Charity), (detail), 1892-1908, Ferdinand Emmanuel Pelez de Cordova, called Fernand Pelez
With a great contrast, my second favorite painting was a sweeping drama of the battle scene in Cannae, took place in 216 BC, in southeast Italy. The panorama of melee and destruction showed the horrifying waves of slaughtering hosts and the tangles of lifeless limbs like the stumps of fallen trees. The carefully planned composition showed an utter chaos, with a muted color palette, as if the destruction was too painful to utter or to be heard; and it demonstrated one of the sources of the pain people suffered from in the charity line above.
La Bataille de Cannes (The Battle of Cannae), 1863, François-Nicolas Chifflart