We arrived at around 8.30pm into Paris and our two charming owners of the business we rent our apartment from, Stephane and Pierre were leaning on the wall opposite overlooking the Seine. They had already been up in the apartment, lit a scented candle and stocked the fridge with fruit juice and a bottle of wine.
Next morning as we left the building I walked across the road of the apartment in the direction of the Seine and turned back to have a good look at our building from the street and realised that we had failed to notice in our effusive greetings that our new Paris address was once the home of the famous satirist and political activist of the 19th century Honoré Daumier. I have always admired his work and had I been around in those days I would have gone out of my way to acquire some of his work. He was a lithographer, painter, sculptor and draftsman. He earned his main living as a cartoonist though he did have many exhibitions of his paintings.
His subjects were the hypocrisy of the middle class and injustice of the law courts. He was a messenger boy for a bailiff at around 13 so he gleaned an insight into the courts from a young age. He is also credited with introducing techniques of Impressionism into modern art. He was a radical at art school and dropped out because of the strict confines of the course.
He went to prison after lampooning King Louis-Philippe who was known to tolerate jokes at his own expense but Daumier went too far and the King knew that there Daumier was well read by everyone… even people who could not read would get the message in his images. He served 2 months in a state prison and the remaining 4 months in a mental hospital. This way the King could demonstrate that only a mad Daumier would oppose him.
His friends were wide-ranging but his close friends were sculptors, generally poor and left wingers.
Daumier lived in a studio in our building but it was probably not grand, our apartment is not grand either and I like to think we are living in his old one or at least looking at it from the courtyard we overlook. We have never been in a back apartment before in Paris. I like to see what is going on outside and it makes us determined – not to ever buy an apartment where we cannot see the street. Often the trade-off is that they are quieter but I like it when we stay in, the beauty of still being able view the comings and goings of Parisians.
The owner has thoughtfully placed a large blow up photo of the Seine taken from a balcony that overlooks the Seine in the apartment.