Paris, France —It is a bucolic country home in the middle of Paris across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower. Nestled into the hills of the Passy neighborhood is the 18th century house in which the great French writer Honoré de Balzac lived for seven years and where he wrote a number of his masterpieces. The writer, widely regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature, would during his seven year stay in the home from 1840 to 1847 correct his opus La Comédie humaine (The Human Comedy). Today the home and garden are open to the public as a museum, known as La Maison de Balzac, where portraits of the writer, his characters and contemporaries are on display along with period furnishings, documents and objects offering a glimpse into his writing process. His turquoise topped cane and coffee pot (he drank endless cups of black coffee when in a writing bout) are also on hand along with, most importantly, his writing table. Wine and food play prominent roles in his writings.
The museum, which is part of the City of Paris’s network of museums, regularly hosts temporary exhibitions in which it invites contemporary artists to dialogue with the written works of Balzac. The current show features the contemporary artist Pierre Buraglio. Entitled Pierre Buraglio, Withstanding the Balzac Test, it brings together some 40 works by the artist who is often referred to as the artist without a brush. He was given carte blanche for the show and the works were either previously done or made for the exhibition, like a series of proposed covers for La Comédie Humaine or « inhumane ». There is a series of ties created by Buraglio in a nod to Balzac’s fascination with fashion. The artist was also taken by Balzac’s ability to correct one single page 15 times and created a silk screen print in black and white evoking crossed out lines. He also did a series of drawings inspired by Rodin’s sculptures of Balzac.
But the museum in and of itself is worth a visit for its permanent collections, garden and pastoral setting. There is a Rose Bakery in the garden and the writings of Balzac are available to read while having a light meal or a coffee and there is an outdoor terrace, weather permitting. The house and garden overlook the Eiffel Tower, which wasn’t there when Balzac lived there. There is also a library and research center for anyone who wishes to do research.
©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette
Temporary exhibition until September 4th
47 rue Raynouard
75016 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 55 74 41 80
Categories: Gourmet Fair