THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)


J’Adore THATd’Or
19 January 2013
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

J’Adore THATd’Or

THATd'Or Invitation
I hope they sing J’Adore THATd’Or !!

You can’t really tell, but the photo in this RIP-ROARINGLY EXCITING INVITATION is of a gorgeous Piet Mondrian landscape (credited below) that has a white plume of steam (train) defining the horizon. It’s much better in person, so I guess you’re just going to have to sign up for the very first THATd’Or… Dope! was that a hint that it just might be included?

And apologies for all of the bold, caps and itals, but I’m clearly over the moon that the American Friends of the Musee d’Orsay (AFMO)’s AVANT Garde Young Patrons have invited me to cross the Seine. A very special thanks to Sarah Miller Benichou, Kristina Tencic and Mary Kay, of Out and About in Paris (who’s very suggestion it was to contact Sarah!).

More to come on this front, in the fortnight leading up to the Thursday 31 January THATd’Or!!

Photo credit: Piet Mondrian, Polder landscape with a train and a small windmill on the horizon, 1907 © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski, 2013 American Friends Musee d’Orsay, All rights reserved.
J’Adore THATd’Or Theme
01 January 2013
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

J’Adore THATd’Or Theme

It’s the final countdown to the AFMO’s AVANT Garde J’Adore THATd’Or … which means it’s time to unveil tomorrow night’s theme! You may have already guessed this mystery theme from the serene Mondrian painting on the invitation? My original goal had been to make the hunt exclusively about trains + motion. What could be more suitable than to tip one’s treasure-hunt hat to the history of this gorgeous building? As I’m sure you all know, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station, built in only 2 years and unveiled on 14 July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. Until 1939 the Gare d’Orsay covered the southwestern French lines (thereafter it served the suburbs as the length of the building (138 meters) was too short for the longer trains which appeared during the electrification of trains). During the war it was where prisoners’ mail was dispatched. And before Mitterand unveiled it as a museum in 1986, it was the temporary home to auctioneers (while Druout was being built) as well as being the set for Kafka’s The Trial, by Orson Welles (1962). It’s clearly had several lives, but the Musée d’Orsay celebrates its train station roots beautifully and seemlessly.

Gare d'Orsay
Gare d’Orsay, photo taken from © Musée d’Orsay

But alas, I wasn’t able to focus exclusively on Trains in art, as the museum keeps things fresh and rotates their collections every two weeks. This is a joy and gift to its visitors (to make sure their collection in storage doesn’t gather dust), but it also keeps treasure hunt makers on their toes!  So tomorrow night’s theme will be Motion + Movement. What subjects might this touch on? Well, a lot: wild waters, divine dancers, prancing putti and of course any locomotive you can think of.  As the museum’s collections pertain to art from 1848 – 1914 there is certainly a fascination with trains, yes, but also an appreciation for industry and workers, think of Zola’s human machine or mechanical man, say. And of course the twists and turns of agonizing lovers is never old when it comes to art, be it songs, poems or bronze reliefs by Rodin (oops, did that slip out?).

So before giving up too much of the hunt, I’ll leave you with just one more thought:

Musee d'Orsay
What’s more germane to THAT than time distorted and looming over a museum?

Musee d'Orsay Clock
Musée d’Orsay Clock

Ok, enough out of me. Tomorrow I’ll post a brief outline of the night’s events. In the meantime, have fun and look forward to our Night Hunt!

Tonight? THATd’Or
02 January 2013
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

Tonight? THATd’Or

Musée d’Orsay at night
Musée d’Orsay at night, taken from

Dear Night Hunters!

Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s AVANT Garde, and I are pleased as punch that tonight’s THATd’Or is finally here. Time will be tight tomorrow (the sound track of Mission Impossible may be beating to your movements for the night), so I’m posting a quick run-down of the evening:

·         We’ll meet promptly at 7.45 pm. Once everyone’s gathered we’ll use the museum’s private entrance (The AFMO’s special entrance… Become a member and you’ll become familiar with it!)
·         After everyone’s inside we’ll check our coats (please remember to wear comfortable shoes)
·         As soon as you’ve checked your coats we’ll reconvene here, in front of the Statue of Liberty* where we’ll be welcomed and I’ll hand out the hunts and review the rules one more time.

AFMO Statue of Liberty Prototype
The AFMO-cleaned Statue of Liberty prototype, by Auguste Bartholdi

·         We’ll need to synchonise our clocks and agree to the finishing point and time (probably 9.30 pm back at the coat check – so take mental note of where this is!)
·         Then divided up in our teams you’ll have 10 or 15 minutes to strategise as a team and then at the appointed time off you’ll set (ideally by 8.10 pm)
·         Kristina and I will be wandering about, drinking up the lovely treasure as well as keeping an eye open for any possible cheaters (so beware! No running, no separating, no external help (iPhones, guards, tourists-in-the-know)…

rue Verneuil
rue Verneuil, Gainsbourg’s house, taken from Wikipedia

– Once we’ve regrouped we’ll have a bit of fresh air, en route to Le Petit Jacob (passing Serge Gainsbourg’s house on rue Verneuil, along the way).

La Petit Jacob
Le Petit Jacob, the back’s reserved for our prize-giving ceremony

– Madame Claude Million will welcome us to her Le Petit Jacob where we’ll have a glass of Bio wine while we meet the competition, tally our scores and have the prize-giving ceremony! For those of you who need to make plans after the night’s event, Le Petit Jacob is at 40 rue Jacob, facing rue Benoit. Closest metros are St Germain des Prés (line 4) or Mabillon (line 10).

La Petit Jacob
Le Petit Jacob, 40 rue Jacob 75006 Paris

And of course, to get to the Musée d’Orsay take line 12 to Soférino. Apart from being south of the Seine and in an entirely different space, this hunt is obviously different from any THATLous on a basic level. That said, the answer to all the knowledge-based bonus questions can be found within the hunt – it’s just a matter of your team playing to its strengths (who’s good at navigating maps, who’s good at reading fine print, who’s visually-oriented to scan a room for your delicious treasure?).

Alrighty then, Happy Hunting

THATd’Or Round-up
06 February 2013
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

THATd’Or Round-up

Alexandre Falguiere's Winner of a Cockfight
Alexandre Falguière’s Winner of a Cockfight (1870), Musée d’Orsay

J’Adore THATd’Or. I do, j’Adore it to bits. Co-host Kristina Tencic, of the AFMO’s Avant Garde, and I thought it went off rather well, based exclusively on the bubbly attitude everyone had when we regrouped at Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty.

As you’ll see from the silly photos below some of the bonus questions requested our fine hunters to pose as various Edgar Degas dancers (awkward as they stretch), as well as the Falguière Winner of the Cockfight, with one leg raised, one arm in the air, victorious! But they had to ask someone else to take their picture, and some of the photos were even taken with the whole of the Musée d’Orsay Cafe Campana watching them balance.
Edgar Degas Ballerinas
Edgar Degas Ballerinas, Musée d’Orsay

The winners of the game, Team Orsay, got a whopping 1600 points (out of 2000), which perhaps reflects that all three of these Sexy Young Things were AFMO members. Pays to join, doesn’t it?

THATd'Or Prize
THATd’Or Prize went to Team Orsay!

Rather ridiculously, I don’t have a photo of the winning Team Orsay (which stands for Obviously Really Sexy And Young). That said, I look forward to seeing Team Orsay, consisting of Elizabeth Kozina, Melissa Heyhoe and Lauren Hasty, for the Easter Hunt, as this prize above (made in part with the help of Allison Blumenthal) was granted to each of them.

Additionally, our THATd’Orers (doesn’t really work so well as a name), were called on to think of a team name for themselves, which we then voted for when we got to Le Petit Jacob. I suspect most people wanted to vote for the THATd’Or Treasure Whores, (because who can top such a great name?), but an inherent desire to win this second prize (a wood train, as per the hunt’s theme, Motion and Movement) kept people to voting for themselves.

THATd'Or Treasure Whores
THATd’Or Treasure Whores Won the Team Name Contest

Here we have the THATd’Or Treasure Whores posing as the Cockfight Winner. Can you tell they are facing the entire Cafe Campana as they pose? From left to right, Kasia Dietz (of Kasia Dietz handmade bags), Suzanne Flenard (of Square Modern, Mid-Century designer cushions) and Anne Mullier (of Ritournelle Blog).

Allison Blumenthal
Allison Blumenthal + Jennifer team

Team Franglais d’Orsay were particularly graceful (and unabashed) in their Degas ballet poses Allison Blumenthal (whose photography and artwork you can see here) and Jennifer Lejeune were joined by Jennifer’s friend from Brazil (whose name I sadly didn’t catch).

Team with Statue of Liberty
Team 2 Men + a MeRegan did not win the name prize, but they did come in 2nd to the actual game prize. Their team name needs a bit of explaining, “2 Men” were the only male hunters, so their gender needed highlighting. Moreover the coincidence of having two ladies named Megan (Megan McGuire) and Regan (Regan Lynn), both of which are spelled this way, explains their name (which won out over 8 Thumbs, which I’m rather partial to, too).

Team Swingers
Team Swingers as Degas Dancers

Team Swingers are seen here posing as Degas dancers.  Camilla Kleniewski, Nathalie R., Stephanie B and Anka Sima came in just 25 points below the second team at an impressive 1450.

Nicky, Grace and Lilian
Nicky, Grace and Lilian

Team La Chasse d’Or had an elegant name (but sadly sex sells) and consisted of Nicky Berry (Growing Berries), Grace Alyssa (photographer behind Besotted Grace) and Lilian Lau (Lil + Destinations). I thank all three of them for their generous reviews of THATMuse and THATd’Or, respectively. All three are linked in parenthetically here.

Team Dali Lama
Team Dali Lama: Katie Knowles, Liz Mockapetris and Ahnnie (apologies for my spelling) were surreally peaceful as they trekked for their treasure.

Kristina Tencic and Daisy de Plume
AFMO’s Kristina Tencic and THAT’s Daisy de Plume

And then a quick snap of Team AFMO THATd’Or, which a wandering tourist took of us as we patrolled the gorgeous halls of the Musée d’Orsay (prowling for cheaters), and having fun chatting. It was an all-round great evening, hopefully to be repeated!

In the coming days more photos of the night’s event will be uploaded on the AFMO website as well as on our respective AFMO and THATMuse Facebook pages.
THE American Expat Painter
01 March 2013
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

THE American Expat Painter

Yes, I guess that title and caps-lock implies just how very much I like John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). He’s probably my favorite American painter*, expat or otherwise.

A Street in Venice, 1880
A Street in Venice, 1880, Clark Art Institute, Mass

I’m happy to say a second THATd’Or is imminently descending upon the coffered halls of the Musée d’Orsay! Kristina Tencic, the AFMO’s Communications Liaison, and I are co-hosting another treasure hunt. This time it’s private and for an exclusive group of expat Americans who’ve been in France for a long time. Who at the Musée d’Orsay could represent such a group better than John Singer Sargent?

The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit
The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, MFA, Boston

And so it is with this in mind that I shall let my fingers flutter and see our subject cross the channel and the pond (although to be fair, John Singer Sargent (JSS) didn’t make it to the States till he was 20 years old, when he established citizenship). Both his parents were American, his father was a Dr in Philadelphia; 2 years prior to John’s birth his older sister died. This caused his mother, Mary Singer, to breakdown, and as a result his parents set sail for Europe, never returning. JSS was born in Florence, though he was raised with seasonal visits across Europe. If you’re born and raised “abroad” are you an expat – or is it simply “abroad” for your parents? For that matter, if you grow up on the road are you an expat?

Wyndam Sisters
Wyndam Sisters, 1899, Met, NYC

Putting questions of Sargent’s identity aside, he was without a doubt a great painter whose portraits created an enduring image of society of the Edwardian age, often focusing on ladies in their brocaded satin gowns. Though he studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts and under the fashionable society portraitist Carolus-Duran, the heavy spell of JSS’s idol, Velazquez, is apparent in most of his works. The haunting interior of The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882, at Boston’s MFA) has distilled light and delicately adjusted forms which pays tribute to Velazquez’s Las Meninas. Northern masters to influence Sargent were Frans Hals, with his quick stroke and light touch, and of course Anthony Van Dyck with his rich textures and fabrics.

El Jaleo, Isabella Stewart Gardner
El Jaleo, 1882, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Boston

Sargent’s best known work, and certainly his own favorite was the portrait of Madame X, the famous Parisian beauty. A fellow American expat, Madame Pierre Gautreau was a Louisiana Belle married to a Parisian banker. Sargent did a gazillion studies of her, spending a good amount of time at her country house in Brittany trying to get his studies right. A nervous and, I get the idea, self-important woman, Madame Gautreau never sat for long, but Sargent was the only portraitist of many who’d been granted the permission to paint her – no doubt due in part to being a compatriot – and he was dead-bent on capturing her marvelously.

Madame X, 1884 The Met
Madame X, 1884, The Met, NYC

When he finally did capture her, Sargent entered Madame X‘s soignée portrait in the Salon of 1884 and much to his despair was totally panned. Critics dismissed it as near pornography, complaining of the revealing décolleté black dress, all that skin and her provocative pose. One of the straps of her dress in the first version was off her shoulder! Scandalous! Discouraged by his Parisian failure he fled to London, welcomed by his good friend Henry James. London became his permanent home, but Sargent had many a client in the States, including Robert Louis Stevenson, Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and perhaps most importantly Isabella Stewart Gardner (who was one of his most loyal and forceful patrons).

Lingering on a light summary of Sargent’s life has been fun, but what to say of THATd’Or? Why have you been reading this? You must want some reward, other than the pleasant visit of seeing his quick and talented stroke, no? Well here’s the give-away: a second prize will go to the team who writes the best limerick which includes elements of the story of John Singer Sargent’s Carmencita, which our hunters will be seeking out at the Musée d’Orsay on Thursday night.

Carmencita, 1890
Carmencita, 1890, Musée d’Orsay

* Although Rembrandt Peale (1778 – 1860) is pretty damned good as well!
J'adore THATd'Or
31 January 2017
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

J'adore THATd'Or

THATd'Or was commissioned by the AFMO. My original goal had been to make the hunt exclusively about trains + motion. What could be more suitable than to tip one’s treasure-hunt hat to the history of this gorgeous building? As I’m sure you all know, the Musée d’Orsay was originally a train station, built in only 2 years and unveiled on 14 July 1900 for the Exposition Universelle. Until 1939 the Gare d’Orsay covered the southwestern French lines (thereafter it served the suburbs as the length of the building (138 meters) was too short for the longer trains which appeared during the electrification of trains). During the war it was where prisoners’ mail was dispatched. And before Mitterand unveiled it as a museum in 1986, it was the temporary home to auctioneers (while Druout was being built) as well as being the set for Kafka’s The Trial, by Orson Welles (1962). It’s clearly had several lives, but the Musée d’Orsay celebrates its train station roots beautifully and seemlessly.

THATd'Or Sample Clue
  • Hunt Booking Info,
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

THATd'Or Sample Clue

Edouard Manet (Paris 1832 - 1883)
Oil on Canvas, H2.07M x W2.65M
Sex sells. And any PR maven knows that bad publicity is the best publicity. Manet surely calculated every inch of shock factor that this painting unleashed. Just the large canvas (reserved for important historical subjects), roughly painted background lacking any depth (is that woman floating or bathing back there?) and intentional, unrealistic light (where are the shadows? There aren’t any!) were all screams for attention, let alone the subject. Originally entitled Le Bain, Manet took the hotly-desired rejection from society a step further by making the objectionable subjects close to him: the two dandies – indifferent to the naked prostitute picnicking with them – are his brother & brother-in-law; the naked woman has the body of his wife and head of his favorite model. Parodying Raphaël, Giorgione and Titian (painters Manet, a Beaux-Arts graduate, coveted), Manet exhibited it in the 1863 Salon des Refusés, where both Proust and Odilon Redon spurned it. Well done! Manet got his much-sought attention from the Bois de Boulogne (the forest to the west of Paris, where it was commonly attributed), to London, where a smaller version of Luncheon on the Grass can be seen at the Courtauld Gallery. Now that you’ve found this, earn 20 THATMuse points if you toddle over to the Café Campana, found on your map near the enormous train clock, and pose as the trio on the grass (you can keep your clothes on) on the plateau above the café for everyone to watch. Is your dignity for sale?!?

THATd'Or Themes
  • Hunt Booking Info,
  • THATd’Or (Musée d'Orsay)

THATd'Or Themes

The following themes are available for our THATd'Or (Musée d'Orsay) hunts:

Covering Musée d’Orsay highlights, from Renoir + Manet to Van Gogh + Gauguin. The intention of the J’Adore THATd’Or theme is to make sure you have an overview – from incredible Arte Nouveau furniture to fanciful French sculpture – of the entire collection. Getting you from the world-famous to hidden nooks + crannies!

We’ve built customized hunts from D'Orsay Dames for Hen Parties to Modernity + Motion for an engineer company hosting a networking event. However, as the museum changes its collection regularly, no theme remains intact for long (thus our need to build each hunt per order)