Thursday, March 17, 2011
A Museum about Hunting? You Bet.
My how things change. I still can't quite fathom taking a cruise or a bus tour of Europe with 5 cities in 10 days. But I've changed my mind about guides. A really good guide, one who is informed and has a talent for storytelling, can make a huge difference in your experience of places unknown.
All this is a lead up to saying that I was surprised to find that I very much enjoyed my visit to the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in the upper Marais. I'm not into hunting and I can't say I'm really into animals either, but thanks to a terrific guide, I learned quite a bit about the place of the hunt in French cultural history. Although the building dates back to the 18th century, the museum itself is fairly new and well designed. In addition to the cabinet of curiousities and all manner of stuffed heads, the collection includes works of art by many luminaries including Brueghel, Chardin, Corot, Cranach, and Rubens. But it was thanks to my guide that I learned about the works of Desportes who documented the favorite hunting dogs of Louis XIV. The dog depicted by Carle Vernet is much more than an image of a beloved pet; it's also a political commentary on the ruthless murder of the duc d'Enghien by Napoleon in 1804.
So go crazy and get a guide to help you experience the museum. And rest assured that there's not one picture of dogs playing poker.
Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature
62, rue des Archives, 75003 Paris
Open daily (except Monday and holidays) from 11 am to 6 pm