Little flowers picked from our yard (except for the tulip) in the kitchen window. . .
We had a relatively warm sunny weekend, and now the primroses are starting to bloom, and the woods behind the house are full of wood anemones.
In the city, all the platz were full of people soaking up the sun. Most were still dressed in black winter coats, so it looked like flocks of large crows had settled down on the grass and concrete. The lines for ice cream were very long — Stuttgarters seem to want cones the minute the temperature rises above 55°F (12°C).
We’ve seen three large hares in the neighborhood in as many days (this is their peak mating season), after not seeing any for months. They are hard to miss, being the size of small dogs — largish small dogs. Occasionally when we come upon one, it stands its ground and we always move along first.
“The property of Madame Douine, Cap Martin, France,” January 1923, by Roger Dumas, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine (both photos).
If you watched The Paradise (2013) on either BBC America or Masterpiece and wondered what happened to Denise after the series ended . . . well, perhaps it was this.
The series was based on Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies’ Paradise) by Émile Zola. It is novel about a saleswoman in one of the grand Paris department stores — Denise — who eventually marries the store’s owner. Her story mirrored the real life of Cyprienne Dubernet, a saleswoman at Grand Magazins du Louvre who married the owner, Olympe Hériot, in 1887.*
In 1909, Cyprienne — now widowed and re-married to Roger Douine — decided to build a villa in Cap Martin on the French Riviera. Her architect designed a Neo-Byzantine house inspired by her travels to Naples, Smyrna, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Constantinople. She named it “Villa Cypris” in tribute to the Greek goddess of love and her own name. Italian painter Raffael Mainella designed the interiors and the garden, which included a stone bridge along the seafront, a cloister, a “Venetian Sanctuary,” a Mauritanian pergola, and sunken Dutch-style parterres with a canal/swimming pool.
You can see more pictures of the estate here, on its website (it seems to be for sale). There’s a video here.
The autochromes above are two of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”† The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here (search “Madame Douine” to see more of Villa Cypris).
*It seems doubtful that Cyprienne (born just plain Anne Marie) was the direct inspiration for Denise, as the novel was published in 1883. She and Olympe had at least one (maybe two) of their four children before their marriage. Their oldest son, Auguste, was an inspiration for the main character of Colette’s novel Cheri. Cyprienne died in 1945.
On Monday, we went downtown for lunch and a stop at Stuttgart’s Markthalle or indoor food market. I also stuck my head in the stylish home goods store that occupies its second floor and discovered that it was having a 50% off sale on Christmas ornaments. So I bought five of these little trees, which I had coveted earlier in December.
At the same store, I also picked up some forced daffodils (1.90 euros). I liked the bright yellow plastic pot that they were already planted in, so I just dropped them into a little glass vase with some shell chips.
Two of the buds opened up overnight. Very early thoughts of spring. . .