[Une Visite au Louvre] (1)

[Credit sequence]

Dominique Païni of the Louvre provoked this film in 1990.

Joachim Gasquet

A Visit to the Louvre

Julie Koltaï

Danièle Huillet

Jean-Marie Straub

William Lubtchansky

Irina Lubtchansky

Jean-Paul Toraille

[Credits continue]


00:38 TRAVELING LEFT across the Seine to the Louvre. Travelling swings back to the right on the porte cochère of the Louvre. Traffic heard on sound-track.

1:25 Black Screen.

I don’t like the primitives. I don’t know Giotto well. I would have liked to see him. (p. 175) [. . .] (2) I’m too old now to go running to Italy. [. . .] I almost never go into the little room of primitives. It’s not my kind of painting. [. . .]. What do you expect me to make of Cimabue’s clumsiness, the naiveté of Angelico and even Uccello’s perspective? . . . There’s no flesh on those ideas. (p. 176)

Image2-Samothrace1:59 Victory of Samothrace, low-angle shot from the left.

Wait. Just look at that . . . It’s an idea, it’s a whole nation, a heroic moment in the life of a nation, but the clothes follow the body, the wings are beating, the thighs are swelling. I don’t need the head to imagine the expression, because all the blood that pulses, circulates, sings in the legs, the thighs, the whole body, has poured into the brain and risen to the heart. It is in motion, the motion of the whole woman, of the whole statue, of Greece. When the head came off, the marble must have bled . . . (p. 176)

2:56 Black Screen.

While up there, among the primitives, you can chop off the heads of those little martyrs with the executioner’s sword. A little vermilion, some drops of blood . . . they fly straight off bloodlessly to heaven. You don’t paint souls. (p. 176)

Victory of Samothrace3:19 Victory of Samothrace. Low-angle shot from the right.

And here look at the victory’s wings – you don’t notice them, I no longer notice them. You don’t think about them any more, they seem so natural. The body doesn’t need them to fly off in triumph. It has its own impetus . . . But with the halos around Christ, the Virgin and the Saints, that’s all one notices. They take over. They annoy me. The fact is one doesn’t paint souls. One paints bodies; and when the bodies are well painted, damn it all! The soul, if there is one, of every part of the body blazes out and shines through! (p. 176)

4:04 Silence on sound-track as the image holds on the Victory of Samothrace.

Ingres LaSource

4:30 Jean-Dominique Ingres, The Source, 1855-56. (3)

Ingres is just the same . . . bloodless! He’s a draughtsman. The primitives were draughtsmen. They filled in the colours, they were illuminators on a large scale. Painting, what is properly called painting, only began with the Venetians. [ . . . ] Oh! it’s beautiful enough, Ingres, Raphael, that whole outfit. I can appreciate them as well as anyone else. I can take pleasure in line if I want to. But there are snags. Holbein, Clouet or Ingres have nothing but line. Well, it’s not enough. It’s very beautiful, but it’s not enough. Look at this Source . . . It’s pure, it’s delicate, it’s smooth, but [ . . . ] it doesn’t turn in space. The damp stone of the cardboard rock is not reflected in the marble of this moist – or what should be moist – flesh. Where is the surrounding penetration? And since she is the source, she should be emerging from the water, from the rock, from the leaves; instead she’s pasted on them. By setting out to paint the ideal virgin, he hasn’t painted a body at all [ . . .] because of the idea of a system. False system and false idea. (p. 178)

6:13 Black Screen.

David killed painting. They introduced the hackneyed formula. They wanted to paint the ideal foot, the ideal hand, the perfect face and body, the supreme being. They banished character. What marks out the great painter is the character he lends to everything he touches, impulse, movement, passion, for it’s possible to be both passionate and serene. They’re afraid of this, or rather they never dreamt of it. In reaction, perhaps, to all the passion, the tempests, the social brutality of their time. (p. 178)

David Marat

7:07 Jacques-Louis David, Death of Marat, 1793.

[ . . . ] I know nothing colder than his Marat! What a tame, mean hero! A man who had been his friend, who had just been assassinated, whom he should have glorified in the eyes of Paris, of all Frenchmen, for all posterity. Has he patched him up enough with his sheet, watered him down enough in his bath? He was thinking of what they would say about the painter and not what they would think of Marat. A bad painter. (p. 178)

7: 44 Silence on sound-track as image holds on the Death of Marat.

7:54 Black Screen.

And he had the corpse in front of his eyes. (p. 178) [ . . . ] Now, his caricatures, they are nasty. They suddenly made me see the grinding mechanics of his mind. (pp. 180-81) He may have been the last who knew his job, but what did he make of it, in God’s name? The trouser buttons in The Surrender of the Standard. (p. 183)

David Distribu

8:20 Jacques-Louis David, La Distribution des Aigles/The Surrender of the Standard, 1810. (4) Silence on sound-track.

8:28 Image holds on David’s The Surrender of the Standard.

What he should have given us was a psychological study in the manner of Titian, of all those grooms and camp-followers grouped around their crowned scoundrel. Lousy Jacobin, lousy classical painter . . . You know what Taine tells us in his Origines about the classical spirit! David is the most appalling example of it. So virtuous! . . .

8:55 Silence holds on The Surrender of the Standard.

9:38 Black Screen.

In his art he succeeded in castrating even lecherous Ingres, who adored the female principle all the same. (183-84)

Veronese Mariage

9:49 Paolo Veronese. Marriage at Cana, 1563.

But here we have painting. There’s painting for you. Detail, ensemble, volumes, values, composition, excitement, it’s all there . . . Believe me, it’s amazing! . . . What’s happening? . . . Shut your eyes, wait, don’t you think of anything. Now open them . . . What about that? . . . One sees only a great coloured undulation, isn’t that right? A rainbow effect, colours, a wealth of colours. That’s the first thing a picture should give us, a harmonious warmth, an abyss into which the eye plunges, something dimly forming. A state of grace induced by colour. You can feel all these shades of colour running in your blood, don’t you agree? You feel reinvigorated. You are born into the true world. You become yourself, you become part of painting . . . To love a painting you need first to have drunk it in like this, in long draughts. You must lose consciousness. Go down with the painter to the dark, tangled roots of things and rise up again from them with the colours, open up with them in the light. Learn how to see. To feel [ . . . ] My word, there was a happy man. And he brings happiness to everyone who understands him. [ . . . ] People and things pass into his consciousness through the sun, with nothing in him separating them from the light, without a sketch, without abstractions, everything in colour. In time they emerge, still the same but somehow clothed in a gentle glory. Happy as if they had inhaled a mysterious music. (p. 180)

Veronese Mariage CU dog

11:59 Close-up of the Musicians in Veronese’s Marriage at Cana.

Look how it radiates from this group in the middle, where the women and dogs are listening to it, and the men foster it with their strong hands. Contemplation, delight, health, all combining in fullest measure [. . .] that to me is Veronese; the fullness of idea in colour. He covered his canvases with a vast grisaille, yes, they all did it in that period, and that was the starting point of his conquest, like a piece of earth before the rise of day, the rise of the spirit . . . (p. 180)

 Veronese Mariage

12:40 Long Shot again of Marriage at Cana.

The underpainting! That’s what I was pointing out. He began with an immense grisaille . . . The bare, anatomical skeletal idea of his universe, the delicate framework he needed, and which he would then clothe with variations, with its colours and its glazes, while building up the shadows . . . A great pale world in rough draft, still in limbo . . . it seems to me I can see it, truly! between the material of the canvas and prismatic heat of the sun . . . Nowadays they build up the paint right away, they go into action crudely like a bricklayer, and they believe that makes them stronger, more honest . . . what rubbish. We’ve lost this knowledge of preparations, this freedom and vigour gained from the underpainting. To model – no, to modulate. We need to modulate. [ . . . ] Look what gets done today! Retouching, scraping down, rescraping, laying on thick paint. It’s like using mortar. Or take the most summary of painters [ . . . ] They brutally surround their people, their objects, with a harsh, schematic, stressed outline, and fill it in right up to the edges with colours. It’s as gaudy as a poster, painted like a stencil punched by machine. It has no life in it. (p. 182)

Veronese Mariage CU

14:27 Close-Up of the Banquet Table in Marriage at Cana.

Whereas, look at this dress, this woman, this creature, against this tablecloth; one doesn’t know where the shadow on its smile begins, or where the light is toying with the shadow, draining it, drinking it up. The colours all interpenetrate, the volumes all turn as they fit themselves together. There’s a flow . . . I don’t deny that at times in nature there are abrupt effects of shadow and light in contrasting bands, but that’s of little interest. Especially if it becomes a device. (p.180)

Veronese Mariage

15:17 Long-Shot again of Marriage at Cana.

The wonderful thing is to bathe a whole boundless composition, immense as this one, in the same soft, warm light and convey to the eye the lively impression that all those breasts are really, like you and me, breathing in the golden atmosphere that saturates them. I’m sure that basically it’s the underpainting, the hidden soul of the underpainting, which links everything together and gives this strength and lightness to the whole ensemble. You need a neutral beginning. After that, you see, he could paint to his heart’s content. Heavens! the taste, the perfect exquisite taste, the audacity of all those branches, those complementary fabrics, the interlacing arabesques, the extended gestures. Is there anything more needed? Seriously, is there? You can examine it minutely. The rest of the picture will always follow you, will always be there. You’ll feel it running through your head, whichever part you’re studying. You can’t subtract anything from the total . . . they weren’t painters of bits and pieces, as we are. (pp.182-83)

[. . . ] But [ . . . ] there’s something about the moderns that doesn’t pass muster. What? . . . Tell me, what? . . . Let’s go and see. We’ll see . . . Now turn left, there, start from this pillar, is it marble, dear God? And slowly let your eyes travel all around the table . . .Isn’t it beautiful? Isn’t it alive? . . . And at the same time it’s transfigured, triumphant, miraculous, in a different world and nevertheless completely real. The miracle is there, the water turned into wine, the world turned into painting. We swim in the reality of painting. To think that I wanted to burn all that in my time. To invent something new, out of a rage for originality . . . When you don’t know anything, you think it’s those who do that stand in your way . . . But it’s the other way around; if you join them, instead of obstructing you they take you by the hand and help you gently, by their side, to stammer out your little piece. (p. 183)

18:03 Silence on sound-track.

Jesusin Pharisees

18:10 Veronese, Jesus in the Pharisee’s House. (5)

That, for instance, is perhaps even more astounding . . . That range of silver . . . The whole prism melting into the white . . . And, you see, what I love about all these Veroneses is that there’s no need to expatiate on them. If you love painting, you love them. If you’re looking for something literary besides, if you get excited about anecdote, subject-matter [. . .]. A picture doesn’t represent anything, it doesn’t need to represent anything in the first place but the colours . . . As for me, I hate that, all those stories, that psychology, that symbolism. Goodness knows, it’s there in the painting, painters are not imbeciles, but you have to see it with your eyes, do you understand?, with your eyes. That’s all the painter wanted. His psychology is the way he makes two colours meet. That’s where his emotion is. That’s his personal history, his truth, his depth. For he’s a painter, you see, not a poet or a philosopher! (p. 185) [ . . . ]

[It is said that] vines all over Palestine blossomed on the night Our Saviour was born. [ . . . ] We painters would do better to paint the blossoming of those vines than the whirlwinds of angels proclaiming the Messiah with their trumpets. Let’s paint only what we have seen, or what we could see . . . (p. 186)

Like [. . . him ], look here . . . (p. 186)

Giorgione Champêtre

20:14 Giorgione. Le Concert Champêtre/Pastoral Concert, ca. 1509. (6)

20:17 Silence on sound-track in front of the Giorgione.

20:29 Let us embellish, ennoble our imaginations with a great sensual dream . . . But bathe them in nature. Let’s not eliminate nature. Too bad if we fail. You see, in his Déjeuner sur l’herbe, Manet ought to have added – I don’t know what – a touch of this nobility, whatever it is in this picture that conveys heaven to our every sense. Look at the golden flow of the tall woman, the other one’s back . . . They are alive, and they’re divine. The whole landscape in its brown glow is like a surpernatural eclogue, a moment of balance in the universe perceived in its eternity, in its more human joy. And one takes part in it, one notes every living detail. (p. 186)

Murillo Cuisine

21:38 Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Cuisine des Anges/The Ecstasy of St. Diego of Alcalà, 1646.

It’s like the one down there, come, [. . . ] What an extraordinary still-life! Murillo had to paint angels, but look, what young Greeks they are, how well their high-mettled feet are planted on the floor. They are truly worthy of peeling those beautiful vegetables, those carrots and cabbages, and of admiring their reflections in those cauldrons . . . The picture was commissioned, wasn’t it? . . . He let himself go, for once. He saw the scene . . . He saw radiant creatures enter this convent kitchen, celestial young porters, with the beauty of youth and dazzling health, among all these worn-out, tormented mystics. See how he contrasts the yellowish emaciated body, the hysterical ecstasy of the saint calmly praying, with the radiant assurance of these fine workmen. And the pile of vegetables! You canrun your eye from the turnips and plates to the wings without any break in the atmosphere. (pp. 186, 88)

Tintoretto Paradise

23:02 Tintoretto. Paradise, ca. 1564.

[ . . . ]Tintoretto [ . . . ] – there’s the real painter. As Beethoven is the musician, Plato the philosopher. I’ve ransacked as many books as I could to find his work. It’s gigantic. Everything is there, from still-life to god. It’s an immense span. Every form of existence, and with unbelievable pathos, passion and invention. If I had ever gone to Venice, it would have been for him. It seems that one can understand him only there . . . (p. 188)

Chaste and sensual, brutal and cerebral, driven by will as much as by inspiration, this Tintoretto, I believe, knew everything, barring sentimentality, about the causes of human joy and torment . . . Forgive me, I can’t talk about him without trembling . . . It’s his portraits, so extraordinary, that have made him familiar to me . . . The one Manet copied. (p. 188)

Gasquet: It’s like a Cézanne.

Ah! I wish it were so . . . You know, I feel as if I knew him. I see him, exhausted by work, worn out by colours, in that purple-hung room in his little palazzo, like me in my shambles of the Jas de Bouffan, (7) but he was always working, even in the middle of the day, by the light of the smoking lamp, with the sort of marionette theatre where he prepared his big compositions . . . Yes, that epic puppet show! When he left his easels, it seems, he would go there and drop exhausted, always in a sullen mood – he was a grumbler, devoured by sacrilegious desires . . . yes, yes . . . there was a frightful drama in his life . . . I can’t bring myself to talk about it . . . In a profuse sweat, he would get his daughter to help him to sleep, make her play the violin for him, hours at a time. Alone with her, among all those glowing reds . . . He sank into this enflamed world, where the smoke of our real world vanished . . . I see him . . . I see him . . . The light purged of all evil . . . And towards the end of his life this man, whose palette rivalled the rainbow, said that he no longer cared for anything but black and white . . . His daughter was dead . . .

Black and white! . . . Because colours had become wicked, tormenting, you see . . . I can understand that yearning . . . Have you experienced it? He searched for final peace . . . This paradise. I can tell you, in order to paint this whirlwind of joyous pink you need to have suffered a great deal . . . a great deal, I can guarantee you that. We’re face to face with opposite poles. There, that noble prince Veronese. Here, this overworked Tintoretto. This wretch wholoved everything, but in whom a fire, a fever, consumed every desire as soon as it began. Look at this heaven . . . his poor gods twist and turn. Their paradise is not a calm one. Their repose is a tempest. They keep up the excitement which has consumed them all their lives, as it consumed him. But now, having suffered so much from it, they find joy in it. I like that . . . (p. 190)

Tintoretto Paradise CU27:37 Close-Up of Tintoretto’s Paradise.

And look at this white foot,here on the left. The underpainting again . . . he prepared his flesh tints in white. Then a red glaze, whoosh!, look at the edge, he brought them to life.

Black and white, I want to paint only in black and white, he shouted at the end. What would he have done? How would he have dealt with his torment? With a man of his sort you can expect anything. In his youth he had had the nerve to proclaim: Titian’s colour with Michelangelo’s drawing. And he achieved it, with Titian at his side. (8) (p. 190)

28:24 Silence on the sound-track.

View of Seine

28:33 View of the Seine from the Louvre. Silence on the sound-track.

30: 05 [ . . .] Basically, the painter who could render that, quite simply, the Seine, Paris, a day in Paris, could be installed here with his head high . . . You have to be a good workman. To be nothing but a painter. (p. 191)

30: 20 J.-D. Ingres, The Triumph of Homer, 1827.

Orange-coloured to show Achilles’ rage and the flames of Troy, green for the travels of Ulysses and swirling ocean . . . but that’s not what I mean by a formula! . . .

Ingres Triumph of Homer

Yes, yes, a formula that’s a straitjacket. [ . . . ] Here there are only two: Delacroix and Courbet. The rest are scoundrels. [ . . . ] (p. 192)

30: 47 Silence on sound-track as image holds on The Triumph of Homer.

30:53 Eugène Delacroix, Women of Algiers, 1834.

30: 56 You can find us all in this Delacroix. When I talk to you about delight in colour for its own sake, well this is what I mean . . . These pale pinks, these furry cushions, this slipper, all this luminous colour – it seems to me that it enters the eye like a glass of wine running into your gullet and it makes you drunk straight away. You don’t know how it happens, but you feel much lighter. These shades are uplifting and purifying. If I had done something wrong, it seems to me that I would come and stand in front of this picture to put myself straight again . . . And it’s dense. One colour passes into the next, like silks. Everything is sewn together, worked on as a whole. And that’s why it’s so effective. It’s the first time since the great artists that anyone painted a volume. And there’s no denying that Delacroix has something, a fever, which is lacking in the old masters. I believe it’s the healthy fever of convalescence. With him, painting emerges from the stagnation, the sickness, of the Bolognese. He turns David upside down. His painting is iridescent. (pp. 192, 196)Delacroix Women Algiers

Also, he’s convinced that the sun exists and that you can soak your brushes in it, do your washing in it. He knows how to show distinctions. It’s no longer like Ingres back there and all those we see here . . . A silk is a fabric and a face is flesh [. . . ]. The same sun, the same emotion plays on them, but is different. He knows how to drape the flank of this black girl with a fabric that has a different aroma from the scented breeches of this Georgian slave girl; he knows it and shows it through these tints. He makes contrasts. Just look how all these dots of colour, for all their violence make a clear harmony. And he has a sense of the human being, of life in movement, of warmth. Everything moves, everything glistens. The light! . . . There is more warm light in this interior of his than in all of Corot’s landscapes and these battle scenes around us. Just look . . . His shadows are coloured. He gives his diminishing tones a pearly quality that makes everything flow together . . . (p. 196)

Delacroix Crusaders34:12 E. Delacroix. Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople, 1840.

His Entry of the Crusaders is a tragedy . . . you might as well say that it’s invisible. We don’t see it any more. I who am speaking to you, I have seen that picture die, fade away, disappear. It’s enough to make you weep. With each decade there’s less of it . . . One day nothing will be left. If you had seen the green sea, the green sky. Such intensity. And how much more dramatic the smoke was then, the burning ships, and how the whole group of riders stood out. When he exhibited it, one couldn’t help exclaiming that the horse, this horse, was pink. It was magnificent, glowing. But those damned Romantics, in their lofty way, used atrocious materials. The chemists swindled them. It’s like Géricault’s Shipwreck,

Géricault Raft35:15 Théodore Géricault, Raft of the Medusa, 1819.

a marvellous page with nothing left to see on it.

35: 25 Silence on sound-track.

Delacroix Crusaders

35:37 Delacroix’s Entry of the Crusaders again.

[ . . . ] We can still make out the corrosive melancholy of the faces, the sadness of these knights, but all of this, as we remember it, was in Delacroix’s colours; and now that they’ve lost their depth, his spirit is no longer there. Still, I did see those pale kings for myself. They no longer move in a blaze of light, in that Oriental atmosphere [ . . . ] (pp. 196-97)

That’s the point, that’s what proves better than anything else that Delacroix is a real painter, a devil of a great painter. It’s not the story of the Crusaders – we’re told that they were cannibals – or their apparent humanity; it’s the tragic quality of his colours which formed his picture and which expressed the corrupted spirit of these dejected conquerors. Originally the beautiful dying Greek girl, the abandoned silk-woman in her rich attire, the old man’s beard, the caparisoned horses and the melancholy standards, all took on their full meaning in a singing blend of colours. Now only an impression of its [sic] remains. [ . . . ] The Women of Algiers hasn’t changed.

Delacroix Women Algiers37:08 Delacroix’s The Women of Algiers, again.

The Entry was just as brilliant. [ . . . ] Maybe Delacroix stands for Romanticism. He stuffed himself with too much Shakespeare and Dante . . . His palette is still the most beautiful in France, and I tell you no one under the sky had more charm and pathos combined than he, or more vibration of colour. (p. 197) [ . . . ]

Gasquet: And Courbet?

37:46 Gustave Courbet, Spring Rut, The Battle of the Stags, 1861. (9)

Delacroix SpringA builder. A rough and ready plasterer. A colour grinder. He’s like a roman bricklayer. And yet he’s another true painter. There’s no one in this century that surpasses him. Even though he rolls up his sleeves, plugs up his ears, demolishes columns, (10) his workmanship is classical! Underneath his swaggering . . . He’s deep, serene, mellow. There are nudes of his, golden as a harvest, that I’m mad about. His palette smells of wheat . . . Yes, it’s true Proudhon turned his head with his realism, but actually that famous realism is like Delacroix’s Romanticism; he went for it head on, with great brush strokes only in a few canvases, his flashiest and surely his least beautiful. Besides, the realism was more in his subject-matter than in his treatment. His view was always compositional. His vision remained traditional. Like his palette-knife, he used it only out of doors. He was sophisticated and brought his work to a high finish. You know what Decamps said, that Courbet was cunning, that he was a rough painter, but put the finish on top. And what I say is that he puts the power and genius underneath. [ . . . ] However broadly he works, he’s subtle. (p. 198)

Gasquet: Courbet is the great painter of the people.

And of nature. His great contribution is the poetic introduction of nature – the smell of damp leaves, mossy forest cuttings – into nineteenth-century painting; the murmur of rain, woodland shadows, sunlight moving under trees. The sea. And snow, he painted snow like no one else! [ . . . ] That large white landscape, flat under the greyish twilight, without a break, all velvety [ . . . ] Tremendous, a wintry silence. (p. 198) [ . . . ]

And the sunset in The Stag at Marseilles, the bloody pack, the pool, the tree running with the beast, reflected in the beast’s eyes . . . All those Savoy lakes with lapping water, the mist that rises from the shores and envelops the mountains . . . the great Waves [ . . . ] extraordinary, one of the century’s inventions, much more exciting, more wind-blown, with a foamier green and a dirtier orange than the one here, with its wild surf, its tide coming from the depth of the past, its ragged sky and pale rawness. (pp. 198, 200)

Delacroix Burial41:01 G. Courbet, Burial at Ornans, 1849-50. (11)

We’re told he painted this after his mother’s death. He shut himself up for a year at Ornans. These are village people who posed for him, without really posing. He saw them in his mind’s eye . . . In a sort of loft . . . They came to see their likenesses . . . He mingled these caricatures with his grief . . . Flaubert . . . but that’s the story. Legend is stronger than history. His mother had not died. She sat for him, she’s in a corner . . . But that tells you how much feeling went into this masterpiece. By a feat of the imagination, it re-creates life. Yes, as Flaubert in his novels borrowed from Balzac, perhaps Courbet borrowed from Delacroix’s romantic intensity, from his expressive truthfulness . . . Do you remember in By Field and Shore, when old Flaubert was making that journey, the burial he describes and that old woman whose tears fell like rain . . . Every time I reread that, I think of Courbet . . . The same emotion [ . . . ]. (pp. 200-201)

Dear God, how beauLandscapetiful it is . . . (p. 201) [ . . . ] Look at this dog . . . Velasquez! Velasquez! Philip’s dog is less dog-like, even though it’s the dog of a king . . . You know the one I mean . . . And the choirboy, with his apple-red cheeks . . . Renoir might come somewhere near it . . . (p. 202) [ . . . ] Courbet’s the only one who knows how to put down a black without making a hole in the canvas . . . There’s no one but him . . . See here, in his rocks and his tree-trunks over there . . . With a single stroke he could show us one whole side of life, the dismal existence of one of these tramps, as you can see, and then back he comes, full of compassion, with the simplicity of a gentle giant who understands everything . . . His caricature is drenched in tears . . . (pp. 202-03). [ . . . ] Who is there that understands Courbet? . . . They’re imprisoning him in this cave . . . I protest . . . I’ll get the press, Vallès, (12) onto it . . . (p. 203) [ . . . ] [May] (13) this picture be moved to where it belongs [ . . . ] in the light . . . So that people can see it. We’ve got a masterpiece like this in France and we hide it . . . Let them set fire to the Louvre . . . right away . . . If they’re afraid of something beautiful [ . . . ] (p. 204)


I am Cézanne. (p. 204)

44:24 Landscape at Buti, Italy filmed. Panoramic shot, ending at 46:40. Birds and babbling brook heard on sound-track.


Kodak 527



  1. Transcription of dialogue, and description of the visual and sound tracks of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie-Straub’s film by Sally Shafto. Dialogue based on Joachim Gasquet’s text “Le Louvre” in his monograph, Cézanne, first published in 1921 (Paris: Editions Bernheim-Jeune). Reproduced here is Christopher Pemberton’s translation: Joachim Gasquet’s Cézanne: A Memoir with Conversations, translated by Christopher Pemberton, preface by John Rewald, introduction by Richard Schiff (London: Thames and Hudson, 1991).
  2. Ellipses occur frequently in the original Gasquet text. A bracketed ellipsis signals cuts made to the Gasquet text by Straub-Huillet.
  3. Today in the Musée d’Orsay.
  4. Today in the collection of the Château de Versailles.
  5. In the Gasquet text, this painting is referred to as Jésus chez le Pharisien. Since then, the painting has been re-titled: Christ Revives the Daughter of Jairus. According to scholar Richard Cocke, the Louvre painting is not by Veronese himself but is a copy of a Veronese original, a lost mural from the Avanzi Chapel in Verona. The original was considered to be Veronese’s first masterpiece. See Richard Cocke, Piety and Display in an Age of Religious Reform (Alsdershot; Ashgate, 2001), pp. 73-74. See too: W.R. Rearick, The Art of Paolo Veronese 1528-1588 (The National Gallery of Art, Washington and Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989).
  6. The Louvre now considers this painting to be an early work by Titian. See the Louvre website.
  7. The Jas de Bouffan manor originally belonged to Cézanne’s wealthy father. After his mother’s death Cézanne sold the estate.
  8. The translator has misconstrued this last sentence. In the French original, we read, “Et il y est arrivé. Titian l’avait flanqué à la porte,” which means “And he achieved it. Titian threw him out.”
  9. Today in the Musée D’Orsay.
  10. During the Paris Commune, Courbet was among a group of protesters who managed to pull down the column in the Place Vendôme. Note by C. Pemberton.
  11. Today in the Musée d’Orsay.
  12. Jules Vallès (1833-85), writer and journalist who took part in the Paris Commune of 1871 and was exiled to England. He returned to Paris and became a prominent left-wing journalist, denouncing injustice. He would have died 15 years before the visit to the Louvre described here. Note by C. Pemberton.
  13. Straub-Huillet have slightly modified Gasquet’s text from: “Gasquet, vous serez quelqu’un un jour . . . Promettez-moi, que vous ferez porter cette toile à sa place” (Gasquet, someday you will be somebody . . . Promise me that you’ll have this picture moved to its proper place) to [Qu’on le fasse] “porter cette toile à sa place.”

About The Author

A Research Associate at Williams College, Sally Shafto is a scholar of French and Francophone film. Her most recent publications include editing and translating the Writings of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet (New York: Sequence Press, 2016).

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