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Work of the Week | 21 March 2022

CAG.269 Yvonne Mariotte, Street Scene in Paris VI, c.1930, oil on canvas. Purchased, Dr Thomas Bodkin, 1936 (Gibson Bequest Fund). © the artist’s estate.

'Paris is a lamp for lovers lit in the wood of the world.'

James Joyce

Street Scene in Paris VI (c.1930) by Yvonne Mariotte captures a moment in a city’s daily life. The composition is framed by a hotel on the left and a winding tree-lined street on the right, as a vegetable seller stops her cart in front of the building. Another figure has emerged from the hotel and may be the maître d'hôtel coming to inspect the produce on offer.

At the time of selling this work, Mariotte had an address at 4 rue Bernard-Palissy in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. This may account for the location identified by the painting’s title, which may otherwise resemble a different part of Paris.

This 1930s street scene is less urban than those favoured by James Joyce (1882-1941), who lived at no fewer than seventeen different Paris addresses between 1920 and 1939. The Irish writer had first visited the city in 1903 to study Medicine but soon changed direction. On his return visit to Paris in 1920, Joyce's intention was to stay just a few days. Those days, however, stretched into twenty years!

Living with his family – Nora Barnacle (1884-1951) and their children Giorgio and Lucia – it is in Paris that Joyce completed Ulysses (1922) and published it on his fortieth birthday.

Fun fact: In 1936, this painting was purchased from Dr Thomas Bodkin (1887-1961) following the conclusion of his term as Director of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Yvonne Mariotte (1909-2011) was born in Orléans, France. She studied at the Casa de Velázques, Madrid and travelled to Morocco in 1936, after which she received the Grand Prix National des Arts for her work. She later moved to the Paris suburb of Poissy. Her work can also be found in the collections of the Centre Pompidou and Musée du quai Branly.

Street Scene in Paris VI (c.1930) by Yvonne Mariotte is currently featured in ODYSSEYS.

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