Nomi Wagner Portrait Artist

Visiting Renoir … for Real!

by Nomi Wagner
La Promenade by Auguste Renoir

If you are like moi, you love Art History, and paintings are imprinted on your soul. Well, imagine walking into the sites where some of your all-time favorites were actually painted! It happened to me on our trip to Paris this past May, and I don’t think I’ll ever recover.

Gerry and I took a taxi up to Montmartre very early on a Saturday morning to get a head start on all the other tourists. We entered Sacré Coeur and were immediately swept back into the Middle Ages, hearing the Benedictine nuns, dressed in traditional white habits, singing like angels. No photos allowed, but it was a heavenly experience that we will never forget. 

The rest of the day was equally magical, eating omelets, crèpes and (ooh la la!) French bread, and walking up and down the hills of Montmartre. What amazed me was that everything I saw looked exactly like an Impressionist painting … the dappled light raking through the acacia trees was the finishing touch. I had seen it in so many of the paintings, but never realized what I was looking at and what gave the paintings their identifying character.

Visiting the Musée de Montmartre was an out-of-body experience for me! Not only was it where Renoir lived and worked in the early days of Impressionism, but the actual swing and garden backgrounds for some of his 1870 portraits are STILL THERE! (see my photo below). And to top it off, a black cat like the iconic Chat Noir kept walking into my photos. Just writing this post brings it all back and gives me thrills and chills. Do you suppose Renoir was there that day? Peut-être is my favorite French word. It means, “perhaps!”