The history and importance of the city of Metz are well-documented. Its architectural riches too, in the work of Sébastien Leclerc and Auguste Migette among others. In modern times, Marc Chagall and Jean Cocteau have contributed to its cultural heritage. Modestly, l was delighted that in 2023 - between my 'Metz cathedral' and 'Moselle' projects - the Ville de Metz contacted me and acquired 7 of my works on paper ( drawings, watercolours and an etching ) for the municipal Archives ( see a previous post ).
A site of specific and strategic interest for me was the 'quartier des Isles', historic centre of Metz where the Moselle stretches at the foot of the cathedral ( Saint Etienne de Metz ) and around the Places de la Comédie and de la Préfecture where stand the Opéra-Théâtre and the Prefecture. To one side of the former, originally part of the Opéra House, is a regular stop-off point and exhbition venue for me...the Théâtris Bar, established by the personality all of Metz have come to know as 'Momo'. There l exhibited my first part of the 'cathédrale' series of paintings in 2015, then again in 2017, and for the period covering the 'Journées Européennes du Patrimoine' in 2023.
From there also, en terrasse, l had the perfect view of the cathédrale and the Temple Neuf ( the protestant temple) at the same time, the Opera House at my back and the Moselle river running its course northwards beneath the two bridges en face. A perfect location ! I cannot begin counting the number of 'pauses café' - and therefore of sketches in situ - that took place there over the years. For the blog, here are some of the more recent ones ...
And from either end of the 'île' - behind the historic Salle Fabert, and a little upstream of the Moselle to the Pontiffroy and the Pont Saint George, or from the gardens of theTemple Neuf and the quartier Saint Marcel out to the Plan d'Eau - other interesting views of the heart of the old city present themselves...
During my last exhibition at Théâtris, showcasing a selection of all this 'Projet 57' work, the dates included the annual 'heritage weekend' ( 16th and 17th september ) for the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine 2023. Extra publicity wa generated for this event, and as it was good weather l decided to spend part of the saturday and sunday simply drawing from the terasse, as is my custom. An example:
It was also the ocassion to tour the Opera House and draw from the front balcony overlooking the Place de la Comédie, which is normally not accessible. I later discovered a similar view drawn by Auguste Migette in 1837 :
Right : Auguste Migette, vue prise depuis le Théâtre ( 1837 )
The exhibition - Projet 57.5 ( a fifth running selection of fresh work in 2023 ) - was a success, and twice extended, and several original works were sold ( including to German visitors ) as well as lots of reproductions. Both a high-point and a hiatus on my Moselle journey, for which l am thankful. And a bonus chez Momo to have met toward the end of the show another great from the messin art world, Jacques Griesmer, who now also has a copy of my Cathedrals book.
Théatris Bar, Metz : Je recommande !
Difficult to stop drawing and grabbing coffees, but onwards... indirectly ; A few more sights of Metz next, literally from 'door to door' ! Then direction-Thionville, and the Moselle Industrielle...