Sunday, September 11, 2011

Representation of Charles de Gaulle in the
Canine art gallery in Paris's Hotel Napoleon

Like a magnet, this city and the Hotel Napoleon have attracted fame and celebrity. Numerous stars, writers, artists and even royalty; among them King Constantine of Greece, Errol Flynn who called the Napoleon “the place”, Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Salvadore Dali and Ernest Hemingway who as well as writing his now classic stories was also at one time the Toronto Star’s man in the Paris bureau, have all enjoyed the hotel’s hospitality.

We had our own brush with celebrity when riding the elevator to the breakfast room the following morning. We struck up a conversation with a charming American who thrust out his hand and introduced himself as Constantine Orbelian. He was, we discovered, the conductor of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, “the greatest chamber orchestra in the world” according to Dmitri Shostakovich. Much admired in Russia and worldwide, in 2004 Orbelian was awarded the title of “Honoured Artist of Russia” by President Putin.

On our way to breakfast I was drawn to a pseudo art gallery displaying a series of comical oil paintings. Depicting members of French society, some in full military dress…..all had canine faces. When I questioned the maitre’d about the paintings he agreed that “Some may not like them”. But then, unbowed and with a glimmer of sly humour, he leaned forward and whispered, “but we do”.

More to follow ...

Photo copyright Anne Gordon

Posted on Sunday, 11th September 2011


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