OK, last week didn’t quite go as well as it could have. Between being completely unable to hear in my psychology classes, getting lost and have to walk an extra 3 km in heels, and being harassed by some guy on my way home, I was so happy when last week was finally over.
Over the weekend, my family took me to a special exhibition at the Musée Fabre. L’Imobilier Cabrières-Sabatier d’Espeyran was built in 1874 by Charles Despous de Paul, a member of the Montpellierian bourgeoisie. It was passed down through his family until one of his descendants, M. Sabatier d’Espeyran, donated the building to the museum in the 1950’s. The building is somewhat unique because despite being built in the 1800’s, M. Despous de Paul enjoyed the architecture of the late 1700’s that had since fallen out of fashion.
Pictures were not allowed in the exhibit and again, the tour was in French so we’ll see how good my memory/comprehension is yet again. As a whole, the home had a great influence from both the Orient and Louis XVI. Many of the porcelain pieces had Asian-inspired themes crafted by European artisans. For the most part, these pieces were not unique and according to the guide (and my subsequent translation); the craftsmen who produced them produced many copies of the same piece. For this reason, the curators of the museum are able to have a pretty good idea from which region the artifacts came. Most seemed to have come from within France (Montpellier, Marseille, Moustiers, Strasbourg; Sevres, Delft, and Meissen) but there are some pieces that are also thought to be Italian and a very few that are probably Chinese.
The influence of Louis XVI and Versailles was also prevalent throughout. On the parlor’s fireplace were busts of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The building’s decor tried to mimic the regal air of the monarchy. Like in Versailles, there are many secret/hidden passageways through which the servants were able to move in order to do their duties without disturbing the family.
One of the most interesting elements in the house, in my opinion, was the faux copper designs on the wallpaper in the dining room. When the building was built, the artist mixed copper with mercury and painted the solution onto the wallpaper. This method produced a very elegant and long lasting result. Since then, the technique of creating the copper solution has changed to omit the use of mercury and the museum redid the wallpaper with this method.
This weekend was just what I needed to recuperate from a difficult week. On Monday, I was ready to start all over again. Luckily, the second time seemed to be the charm.
Week two of classes was much easier. For one, the students in my lectures did not talk as much, or at least not as loudly as they did the previous week. Also, for one of my psychology lectures, I bought a book the professor wrote. He bases his lectures mostly off this book, so if I read it before class I can follow the lecture much more easily. Grammar, phonetics, civilization of southern France, and the world of work in France are all still pretty easy to follow. In phonetics, we use the International Phonetic Alphabet to represent the correct pronunciation of each word. Once I learn that, that class will be much easier. For now, it’s like decoding a message. Hopefully week three is even better!