Jefferson’s Paris

The ambassador from an infant republic spent five enchanted years in the French capital at a time when monarchy was giving way to revolution. Walking the city streets today, you can still feel the extravagant spirit of the city and the era he knew.

Paris is every day enlarging and beautifying,” Thomas Jefferson noted with satisfaction during his residence there as minister to France. The city under construction was a delight to Jefferson, the art patron and amateur architect. He had arrived in 1784, determined to commission the finest living artists to glorify the birth of the American republic. Lafayette, Washington, John Paul Jones, and other heroes of the Revolution were to be immortalized by David, or perhaps by Madame Vigée-Lebrun.Read more »

The Liberation Of Paris

I am told that many people have difficulty in deciding the most exciting moment in their lives. Not I. For me it was August 25, 1944—the day of the liberation of Paris half a century ago. I was there as a war correspondent courtesy of the American 4th Infantry Division. Read more »

The Old Front Line

THREE-QUARTERS OF A CENTURY HAS NOT BEEN TIME ENOUGH TO EFFACE THE REMNANTS OF VIOLENCE ALONG A FOUR-HUNDRED-MILE FRONT

It is early fall in France, anf the forest is silent and peaceful. A man, dressed in camouflage fatigues and carrying a metal detector and a sawed-off pickax, disappears into the misty underbrush. Here and there holes in the ground are half-filled with deads leaves; strands of rusty barbed wire hang from corkscrew-shaped metal posts. The forest, about forty miles from Paris, is officially called the Bois de la Brigade Marine. The French government has given this land to the United States; Americans know it as Belleau Wood. It was here that men of a U.S.Read more »

A Black American In The Paris Salon

In an age when the best black artists were lucky to exhibit their work at state fairs, Henry Ossawa Tanner was accepted by the most selective jury in France

Dr. Philip Bellefleur had been headmaster of the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf for about three years when he found the painting in 1970. He and a housekeeper had opened the door to a large storage closet, one that hadn’t been opened in five years, perhaps more. Inside they saw scores of dusty boxes and a half-dozen paintings stacked against the wall. After a quick look Bellefleur concluded that maybe two of the six pictures were valuable—one because it was so large, nine by twelve feet, and the other because it gave him goose bumps. Read more »

An American Coup in Paris

Remember the excitement of the 1924 Olympics in Chariots of Fire? That was nothing compared with what the U.S. rugby team did to the French at those games.

It is springtime in post-World War I Paris, the final day of the rugby tournament at the VIII Olympiad, to be exact, and fifty thousand Frenchmen are filing into Colombes Stadium to watch the mighty French national rugby team win the first gold medal of the 1924 Olympics. Their opponents? A ragtag band of California college kids calling themselves the USA Olympic rugby team. Barely two hours later the novice American rugby team has pulled off what the United Press sports editor Henry L.Read more »

Bernhardt In America

In the years between the dedication of the Statue of Liberty and the First World War, the Divine Sarah was, for hundreds of thousands of Americans, the single most compelling embodiment of the French Republic

During Sarah Bernhardt’s 1912–13 American tour, the souvenir program for La Dame aux Camélias quoted Mark Twain: “There are five kinds of actresses: bad actresses, fair actresses, good actresses, great actresses, and Sarah Bernhardt.”

In her own country the prestigious Journal des Débats pronounced her a national institution, maintaining that “to criticize her is like criticizing the tomb of Napoleon.” It was Read more »

Saint-Gaudens

His works ranged from intimate cameos to heroic public monuments. America has produced no greater sculptor.

For the “mysterious aura” of his art, a critic has compared him to Thomas Eakins. In the “haunting grandeur” of his sculpture, he is the equal of Auguste Rodin. Both historian and idealist, an artist whose work encompasses realism and allegory, Augustus Saint-Gaudens satisfied popular taste while managing to grow steadily as an artist. An American pioneer in moving sculpture from single to multiple figures and from carved stone to cast bronze, he completed more than two hundred commissions over a thirty-year working life.Read more »

Saving The Statue

After standing in New York Harbor for nearly one hundred years, this thin-skinned but sturdy lady needs a lot of attention. She’s getting it- from a crack team of French and American architects and engineers.

AT A TABLE IN a cozy Chinese restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris, half a dozen men argue loudly about the Statue of Liberty. Several argue in French, several argue in English, and one argues in both languages while attempting simultaneous translation of everyone else’s remarks. The question at issue: Why wasn’t the statue built the way Gustave Eiffel designed it? Read more »

HEMINGWAY & FITZGERALD: THE COST OF BEING AMERICAN

The work of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald virtually defined what it meant to be American in the first half of this century

One of the last photographs of Hemingway shows him wandering a road in Idaho and kicking a can. It is an overcast day, and he is surrounded by snow-swept mountains. He looks morose, is evidently in his now usual state of exasperation, and he is all alone. The emptiness of Idaho is the only other presence in the picture. Read more »

Chopin Called Him “The King Of Pianists”

But was Louis Moreau Gottschalk America’s first musical genius or simply the purveyor of sentimental claptrap?

Even for a city that prided itself on being a preeminent center of European musical activity, the Parisian concert debut of Louis Moreau Gottschalk on April 2, 1845, was a singular occasion. Startlingly, the pianist was a youthful American, and, of course, it was well understood in Paris that Americans were devoid of cultural refinement.Read more »