THATMuse

Anyone who has studied Greek mythology will have come face-to-face with the centaurs at some point. If you’ve never heard of these half-human, half-horse creatures of Ancient Greek mythology, or would like to know more about them, read on…

Read More
Italian Flag

Avviso veloce: alcune delle informazioni in grassetto potrebbero essere risposte a domande bonus nella tua caccia Divertimento e Giochi, la cui Prima Verisione in Italiano, sarà Venerdì 3 Aprile alle 17.30.

I Greci rispettavano le regole del buon costume in modo molto diligente: le donne dovevano essere delle bravi madri, bimbi e ragazzi frequentavano la scuola, la palestra e si preparavano per diventare forti guerrieri, i più anziani consigliavano, con la loro saggezza, le nuove generazioni, e tutti pregavano gli dei durante le festività religiose. C’era un’occasione, però, in cui quasi tutto era concesso e in cui le regole del buon costume potevano essere dimenticate: il simposio. I nostri musei sono pieni di vasi che mostrano simposiasti che si divertono e giocano; il motivo della loro popularità  è  semplice: i Greci, come gli Egizi, i Cinesi, gli Anglo-Sassoni e le genti della Mesopotamia, spesso seppellivano i propri morti con dei giochi (o scene di giochi), per permettergli di divertirsi durante la loro vita ultraterrena.

Read More

Just a heads up: things in bold might be answers to bonus questions on your Fun & Games hunt!
The First ever Version in Italian will be on Friday April 3rd at 5.30 pm.  
You can also read this blog in Italian here!

From sculptures to pottery, from paintings to temples, mythology is a broad topic in ancient Greek art and architecture. The Parthenon architecture, one of the most famous ancient complexes of all times, is a striking example of how the ancient Greeks took inspiration from their classical mythology to make sense of the real world.  

Greek Art and Mythology: one of the earliest representations of the Trojan Horse, 750-650 BC 
Read More

Love Hunt: The Ain Sakhri Lovers

Today for our third Love Hunt blog we have a very special object. The oldest and most mysterious object on our Love Hunt: The Ain Sakhri Lovers. Possibly the oldest porn in the world! 
 

This statue is the oldest known representation in the world of two people making love. Discovered in the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem, it dates back around 11,000 years. At this time, humans were only just learning how to move from hunter-gathering to farming. The Natufian people of the Middle East who made this sculpture we’re some of the first to begin to domesticate sheep and goats, alongside their hunting dogs for catching deer.  

Read More

THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, running the 1st Tuesday of each month. In this series we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.

This time we’re going to look at Quattrocento.

Quattrocento means the 15th Century. Literally, “Quattro” means 4 in Italian and “Cento” means 100 –there’s your dose of new Italian words for the day! Its pronounced kwatro-chento, give it a go!  

This period marked the early Italian Renaissance in art, sculpture and architecture.  Before this, artists had tried to give their works a spiritual quality but in the Quattrocento, Renaissance artists focused on portraying these spiritual characters as real people. At times this new way of art caused problems as some people felt that the art lacked holiness. Here’s an example of art from this period (above), which you can find at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Look at how the Virgin Mary is portrayed in the first painting as compared to this painting from the 13th Century (below). What do you notice is different about the two paintings? Does the first one look more realistic?

Any questions about the Quattrocento? Please leave any comments or queries below.

The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples.Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.

THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, running the 1st Tuesday of each month. In this series we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.

This time we’re going to look at Sfumato!

This is a technique where the painter avoids using sharp lines. Instead, colours shade gradually into each other to give soft blurred outlines. Leonard da Vinci used this to great effect. Take a look at the Mona Lisa, one of the Louvre’s most famous pieces:

Take a look at her face in the image below. You can see how sharp lines were avoided and shading was used to make the image more believable.

The word itself comes from the Italian verb Sfumare which means to evaporate, like smoke!

Any questions about Sfumato? Feel free to leave any comments or queries below!

The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples.

Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our Travelling in Paris & London category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Here’s a 3-part series on parks by Daisy de Plume, expat mother of two boys growing up in both cities (and THATMuse founder). 

London: Coram’s Fields

Families picnicking in Coram fields

Cornering the Kid Market, Coram’s Fields is hands-down the best Bloomsbury park for kids. Perfectly placed for a post THATMuse treasure hunt at the British Museum. With a prohibitive sign announcing that all adults must be accompanied by a child, this 18th Century park is on the site of the former Foundling Hospital (to which Handel donated his organ, and Hogarth designed the orphans’ uniforms for). With only one entrance to the park, it’s a cornucopia of fun for the kiddies. HIDDEN KID TREASURE: The farm animals, of course! Goats, bunnies, parrots and chickens can all be found out of the way, within the western colonnade. There’s something for all ages, from a sandpit for tots, to a 2-storey tunnel slide. Storsh makes a bee-line for the challenging sling line or zip-wire, though he never gets very far. Heavier teens speed past on this “Death Slide”, but under-10s still have fun mounting the sling-seat for a go. For quick rain showers there’s a somewhat worn but elegant gazebo as well as a café within the open colonnade serving toasties, hot chocolate and treats. In warmer months, a sunken fountain offers a good splash for some frolicking. 8 am – 8 pm

Paris: Jardin des Plantes

colourful flowers in Jardin des plantes
Gorgeous Jardin des Plantes in Summer


Designed in 1635 by Louis XIII’s Doctor, the Jardin des Plants is Paris’s Botanical Gardens, located on the Left Bank. 23.5 hectares (69 acres), it also has an 18th century zoo with animals from the royal menagerie at Versailles, and four main Natural History galleries comprising the Grande Galerie de l’Evolution, Paleontology, Entomology and Mineralogy Museums. HIDDEN KID TREASURE: A special treat for Parisian tots is a labyrinth where they can climb in the hallowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents toddle up the spiraling dirt path. The conical maze is hidden behind the Art Deco Winter Garden (serre in French; the hot house is also worth dipping into). With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delightful treat for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your kids run free, as it’s easy for them to get lost in the maze! Or agree ahead of time that they’ll find you at the apex, sitting in the gazebo, so they know to climb up. (Can you tell my 6-year old has scared himself getting lost there aplenty?) METRO: Gare d’Austerlitz (lines 5, 10, RER C), Jussieu (lines 7, 10)

THATKid Tuesday is a monthly dose of Art History for kids, running the 1st Tuesday of each month. In this series we’ll be blogging about different terms from the THATKid glossary we’ve created to help kids understand some of the art history terms that pop up in our hunts.

This time we’re going to look at Friars!

Take Fra Angelico, for example. He was the artist who used continuous narrative to tell the story of St Dominic’s life in the pradella. The ‘Fra’ in his name is an Italian word. It and the French word Frère (brother) come from the Latin word for brother Frater. The English word Friar is derived from Frère.

The next time you’re in a museum try and see if you can spot the different orders that these Friars belonged to by looking at their clothes and cloaks or habits.

Dominicans, like in this painting, wear black over white. The Franciscans wear brown. The Capuchins wear grey and the Carmelites wear a white cloak over a brown habbit. The Augustinians, like the one on the far right, like to keep it simple in all black.

Left: A Franciscan Friar, by Rembrandt. Center: Fra Angelico, The Dominican Blessed, from the pradella of Fiesole Alterpiece.  Right: An Augustininan Friar, by Gerard David.

All of these pieces are in the National Gallery in London.

Any questions about friars in art? Please leave any comments or queries below!

The idea for THATKid Tuesday stemmed from the Kid Pack’s glossary. The Kid Pack has supplemental exercises for after your Louvre hunt, from a Michelangelo Connect-the-Dots and a Mona Lisa sticker-puzzle to a Botticelli Spot-the-Difference. Good for train rides or long French dinners, kids can also pick up on some terms like composition, perspective and the lot. As THATMuse has grown to include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert and Musée d’Orsay, THATKid Tuesday’s blog version has grown to include other examples.

Tune in the first Tuesday of the month if you’d like another art history dose of THATKid.

Part of the reason the Julio-Claudian family is tricky to follow is because of all of the interconnected (read: incest!) relationships. Roman Empress Valeria Messalina, known as just Messalina (12 – 48 AD), was the third wife to Emperor Claudius; a cripple with a stutter. 10 years his junior, she was cousin to her husband Claudius, as well as cousin to his predecessor, Emperor Caligula, as well as paternal cousin to Emperor Nero (to follow Claudius, and to be his step-son — as well as… you guessed it, cousin!). Lastly (to be listed, as the connections go on and on!) she was the great-grand-niece of First Emperor Augustus. All of them (Messalina, Claudius, Caligula and Nero) were descendants of Livia, 1st Empress of Rome. Incest aside, she was what one would consider a powerful woman – as well as being a lady of, let’s say ‘compromising morals’, and a conspiring lady at that (for which she would eventually be beheaded)

Marble statue of Messalina holding baby Brittanicus, Louvre
Messalina and Brittanicus at the Louvre, taken from Flickr, Dipity

Robert Graves depicts Emperor Claudius as adoring Messalina for her beauty and youth. Whether this is true or not, we don’t know, but she did bare him two children directly after they were married in 38 AD, Claudia Octavia (who would be the future empress when she married her stepbrother, Emperor Nero) and Brittanicus, who Messalina vied to be the emperor (but she wasn’t so clever as Livia getting her own son, Tiberius, to the throne).  But before Robert Graves, who was writing in the 1930s, we have Roman sources to turn to for the juicy stuff.

bust of Nero (equestrian statue fragment) at the Louvre,
Nero (equestrian statue fragment) at the Louvre, Taken from Louvre.fr

Both Tacitus and Suetonius portrayed Messalina as lustful, insulting, disgraceful, cruel, avaricious, etc. They attributed this to her inbreeding. Pliny the Elder tells of Messalina’s 24-hour sex competition with a prostitute in Book X of his Natural History. And guess who won? Messalina, having bedded 25 more partners than the whore Scylla (you may want to take note of this tidbit in case it appears as a bonus point in one of the hunts).

Juvenal was shockingly graphic in his critical description of her brothel, when he described her in Satire VI. He said the minute Claudius was snoring Messalina would put on a blonde wig and go to work at her brothel for the pleasure of it (for PG status I can’t requote Juvenal’s graphic bits), nor can I post the 1527 engraving that Augostino Carracci did for the famous Renaissance erotic book, I Modi (“The Ways”), which depicts various sexual positions. The engraving depicts her in her brothel, entitled Messalina Lisisca, after Juvenal’s poem.

After she convinced her lover, Roman Senator Gaius Silius, to leave his wife Messalina and Gaius plotted to assassinate Claudius and have Gaius adopt Brittanicus (Messalina’s son by Claudius and the presumed future emperor). Claudius caught word of this, and had them both executed for treason. Messalina was offered a knife to commit suicide honourably, but as she was too cowardly for that, she was beheaded on the spot (in the Gardens of Lucullus, which are now a part of the Villa Borghese in Rome, right above the Spanish Steps).

Fountain in front of spanish steps, lit at night, eading to villa borghese

With such a juicy story under her belt, there are many references to her in popular culture – from Charlotte Bronte (in Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester refers to his first wife as an Indian Messalina) to Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in Love in the Time of Cholera, a dog with many pups bears her name). In Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and the Margarita, Messalina is a guest at Satan’s ball.

Bust of Claudius at the Louvre
Cuckolded Claudius took necessary measures with his beloved wife; photo taken at the Louvre, from histoire-fr.com

Flexible morals aside, the lady was venally powerful. That is, until she lost her head! Messalina fits perfectly for a Kings + Leaders THATLou, or of course a Ladies at the Louvre THATLou… Perhaps even the Love Hunt might include her – in the carnal sense… Is this hint obvious enough???

The THATMuse blog has content pieces about the actual museums where you’re hunting, but we’ve also amassed plenty of recommendations of what to do in Paris and London apart from your museum time. Check out our “Travelling in Paris & London” category on the blog for pieces from kid-friendly parks, cafes and toyshops to romantic cocktail lounges near our museums.

Which European capital, Paris or London, is more kid-considerate when it comes to parks? In the Battle of Green Glory, it may take an American to decide. This post, which first appeared in the Telegraph, was written by expat Daisy de Plume, founder of THATMuse.

Carousels

Sorry, London, there’s no contest when Paris’s oldest carousel was designed by Charles Garnier, who also happened to build the city’s opera house. The Jardin du Luxembourg’s carousel has animals swing from the ceiling and a tricky ring game. London’s Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank, has a sweet little carousel to make you feel like you’re in Mary Poppins, but on the carousel score, Paris has no competition. Anywhere.

Paris: 1

Picknicking

Approximately 47 per cent of London is covered by green spaces, making it perfect for picnicking: with city spots like Russell Square which are ideal for a pit stop after whizzing about the British Museum, as well panoramic swathes of green such as Hampstead Heath.

While Paris parks are lovely, they are more to be observed, not interacted with. Usually there are only designated portions of grass in which Parisians are permitted to spread out. One of the best of these is the Marais’s Place des Vosges.

Of you are the sort who prefers a dry picnic, according to Weather2Travel, Paris has 170 days with some rainfall each year, while London has just 155, giving the British capital a clear advantage.

London: 1

Jumping

After a treasure hunt at the Louvre, the sunken trampolines in the adjacent Jardin des Tuileries are a great spot for kids to bounce off some energy. Costing €2.50 (£2.25) for five minutes, the trampolines are off the beaten track, so the queue is never long. Did you know that the Jardin des Tuileries had hidden trampolines? London’s trampoline “parks” are indoors, not central and relatively expensive. This cannot compete with flipping about in the 17th century park designed by Le Nôtre, chief gardener of Versailles

Paris: 1

Playgrounds

Kensington Gardens’ Diana Memorial Playground and the large playground at Jardin du Luxembourg are both fantastic: both have guards at the entry to keep tots from escaping, snack food stands, bathrooms, and are great fun for kids aged 2 – 12.  The Diana Memorial Playground is a joy for children aged two to eight or so.  The Jardin du Luxembourg playground costs €2.50 (£2.25) entry, so for free fun, London pips Paris to the post.

London: 1

Getting Lost

A special treat for Parisian enfants of all ages is the labyrinth in the Left Bank’s Jardin des Plantes, where kids can climb in the hollowed-out bushes and secretly make their way up to the next level while parents wander up the spiraling dirt path. France’s main botanical garden, you can visit galleries of natural history within the park

With terraced levels being crowned by a looking-point gazebo, the labyrinth looks a bit like a massive green ziggurat. It’s a delight for kids, but perhaps agree to a special whistle prior to letting your children out of sight, or if they’re older agree ahead of time that you’ll meet at the gazebo apex.

The conical maze is hidden behind the art deco Winter Garden; many Parisians don’t even know about it, associating the Jardin des Plantes with the 18th century zoo and botanical gardens.

Paris: 1

Wildlife

There is plenty of animal-spotting to do in both cities, from feeding the pelicans and mallards in St James’s Park, to doing a beeline to the beehives of the Rucher École beekeeping school in Jardin du Luxembourg.  Coram’s Fields, near the British Museum, tips the scales in London’s favour, with an adorable, if somewhat worn, petting farm with goats, bunnies and chickens.

London: 1

Treasure Hunting

Sculpture scouting is my son Storsh’s preferred game in Parisian parks; the Tuileries has 20 Maillol alone, and more than 200 sculptures and urns, while our family favourite, Jardin du Luxembourg, has 106 sculptures. Likewise, London’s Regent’s Park is filled with wonderful contemporary sculpture during the art fairFrieze.

Paris: 1

Zipwires

London’s Coram’s Fields has a great zipline, as does Holland Park, but the standing, swerving one in Jardin du Luxembourg is exciting, too.That said, nothing tops climbing a ladder the height of a tree to zipline across Canal St Martin during the seasonal Paris Plages, something many Parisian parents look on with great jealousy.

However, London triumphs with Battersea Park’s impressive Go Ape course. Ticketed slots cost £20/person but this aerial adventure park makes a great holiday treat. Kids (and parents) will turn into Tarzan as they swing, climb and zip from tree-top to tree-top. You must be a meter tall to play, although there is a playground for little siblings. Paris doesn’t have anything quite like it.

London: 1

We may have to call it a diplomatic draw – but choose your city based on which activity most appeals to you!

Jacquemart-André Museum

Welcome to the 1st of the Monthly Museum Musings (MMM), where we’ll linger on lesser known museums (when compared to the Louvre that leaves us pretty much open to any of the more than 150 museums across Paris). MMM will focus predominately on Paris (though at times we’ll stray to other cities’ fine collections) and will be defined by a brief overview of the collection at hand, as well as a quick “In the Neighbourhood?” element to provide suggestions for a stroll one could take before or after your Museum Musing. If you have suggestions of a museum you’d like covered or would like to contribute, we’d love to hear from you!

The Frick Collection in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, London’s Wallace Collection: All of these places were the mansions of wealthy families, now housing their art collections for the public. Paris’s version of this big-home, small-museum type is no less impressive, though perhaps slightly less known on an international scale: The Musée Jacquemart-André.

Jacquemart-Andre Museum

The couple, Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart, collected old masters such as Titian, Uccello, Van Dyck and Rubens. Though the quality isn’t quite on par with Frick’s peerless collection, some of the 15th and 16th century Italian paintings are divine. Paintings aside, the house is a piece of art unto itself with a gorgeous aerie, plant-filled interior courtyard with a Tiepolo fresco overlooking the double-spiraled staircase. Downstairs you see Edouard and Nélie’s separate bedrooms – the toilet of which has always fascinated me with its various embroidered furniture (didn’t it get wet with splashes? No matter). Made into a museum in 1913, you can also go for one of the best high teas in one of the prettiest salons in Paris. I work in the neighbourhood and go for a delish mango salad on special occasions when I can go a-missing for a few hours of pretending to be a lady-who-lunches.

A visit to the museum is certainly worthwhile, though the 8th Arrt ‘hood is dry with row after row of Hausmannian façades fencing in the tree-lined boulevards. They’re mostly international law firms and companies or posh residences, impenetrable to tourists and expats alike.

In the neighbourhood?

It’s less than 10 minutes by foot up to Parc Monceau for a stroll where the first parachutist landed in the 18th century. If you have kids Parc Monceau has a pony trail that my toddler’s fascinated by (and counting the minutes till he’s big enough to go for a ride). For now though, he’s content with the adorable Parisian 19th Century swings and picnic green rare to many a Parisian park.From there you could go to the pedestrianised market street, Rue de Levis in the 17th Arrt, for a drink and some fabulous people-watching.

Or if you want a more ‘famous” version of Paris it’s 10 minutes west to the l’Arc de Triomphe, where you feel like you’re at the center of it all. It’s true the expanse of all of the boulevards, the Champs-Elysées in particular, meeting at your feet is something to write (at least a postcard) home about!

Jacquemart Andre Museum


What’s on now?

From Zurbaran to Rothko is running from March 3rd to July 10th 2017. Alicia Koplowitz has amassed through Grupo Omega Capital Ω, a collection that reflects her own personal tastes, bringing together numerous masterpieces from some of the world’s greatest artists. The Old and Modern Masters feature heavily in her collection, fostering a dialogue of sorts across the centuries: antique sculptures and paintings by Zurbarán, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Guardi and Goya can be seen alongside paintings and drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Van Dongen, Modigliani, Schiele, de Staël, Freud, Rothko and Barceló, as well as sculptures by Giacometti, Bourgeois and Richier.

 

Logistics

Details: 158, boulevard Haussmann 75008 Paris

www.musee-jacquemart-andre.com

Metro: Miromesnil (lines 9, 13), St Philippe du Roule (line 9, closer)

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 10am – 6 pm, Monday till 8:30 pm

Prices: Adults cost 13.50 euros, students 10.50, kids under 7 are free (as of 2017)

Café Blanc

The café’s patio is great for dining on a nice day.

Address: 10, rue Croix des Petits Champs 75001
Phone: +33 1 42 33 55 85
Price Range: €

This is my standard haunt. We’re not only fond of the people, the upstairs room has a view of both a small Parisian lane as well as the grand Banque de France. The feel is of a “we are a standard French bistrot and don’t pretend to be anything else” with their tiled and mirrored walls and smooth Serge Gainsbourg tunes. Fine for drinks, and I’ve organized lunches there. It is not haute cuisine, just your basic souris d’agneau or pavé de saumon. This is by far my fave to tally scores over a drink and it’s just enough off the Louvre path so that you don’t have a hundred English speakers around you and prices doubled. Their room upstairs can comfortably suit 35 people, or a bit tighter I’ve also managed 40. Not only the space works well, the service are entirely flexible and accommodating, juggling everything with a smile. Google and Piaggio are former clients who were happy with the wrap up drinks here if you need a reference.

louvre to cafe blanc