Will a few hearts bring back visitors to Musée de la Vie Romantique?

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Annette Messager, Sleeping heart, 2019, courtesy Marian Goodman gallery

Since Daniel Marchesseau and his team composed of Catherine de Bourgoing and Jérôme Godeau left Musée de la Vie Romantique, George Sand’s charming house in the 9 th arrondissement has lost its soul and the exhibition “Hearts, from Romanticism to contemporary art” is not going to restore it. Opened on Valentine day, it tries very hard to inject some passion in the beautiful Ary Scheffer studio with 40 contemporary works which have nothing in common. Pierre et Gilles, Annette Messager, Jim Dine, Niki de Saint Phalle, Jean Michel Othoniel are all very respectable artists but hanging their works in the middle of the 19 th century delightful museum does not make any sense.

Ary Scheffer’s studio with a few contemporary items on the bookshelves

The main house has been impeccably restored and holds lovely Redouté prints and remembrances of Chopin with George Sand. A superb painting by Ary Scheffer on gold background of Pauline Viardot as St Cécil, the moving statues of horsemen by Marie d’Orléans, the talented sculptress who died so young, the “Don Juan and Haydée” by Marcel Saunier are all romantic enough to not need the large pink heart costume by Agatha Ruiz de la Prada (whom I otherwise adore) in the middle of the drawing room.

Princesse Marie d’Orléans, Jumping cavalier or falcon hunt, 1835-1838

To represent the heart through different medias is fine but why not choose strong works? This should not deter you from visiting the ravishing garden and house on rue Chaptal,  if you have never been to this fairly discreet museum of La Nouvelle Athènes. Just don’t go searching for love… because Sophie Calle’s “Torero” would immediately chill you out.

Ary Scheffer, Pauline Viardot as St Cecil, ca 1851

On the topic of the heart shape, you can buy the late Marilyn Yalom‘s book: “The amorous heart: an unconventional history of love”, Basic books, 2018.

Niki de Saint Phalle, “My Heart” , 1965, private collection

Musée de la Vie romantique, 16 rue Chaptal, until July 12. There is a lovely tea room in a conservatory where you can have lunch in the garden.

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