Thursday, July 12, 2012

La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful)

(Photo courtesy of

Although I travel with an "eye for antiques and architecture," I'm also compelled to research the culture, history and politics of a country or town prior to a visit.  Knowing a country's history allows me to better understand the way its people live today. I've always thought you have to know the past to understand today and to envision tomorrow.

So while Arezzo, Italy will remain in my mind an Italian antique haven, you may have recognized the town's name for another reason. Arezzo is the Italian town where the movie La Vita è Bella was filmed. La Vita è Bella is Roberto Begnini's 1997 Academy Award winning Italian film that tells the story of a Jewish Italian, Guido Orefice, who uses his imagination to help his family keep their hope alive during their imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp. The first half of the film, which depicts 1939 Italy, is filmed in beautiful Arezzo.

As you walk through the city centre of Arezzo you'll see colorful signs featuring pictures from the film placed at the actual locations of filming for the movie.

The standing, framed sign shown in the photo above details the specific scenes filmed in the Piazza Grande, shown below. Minus the numerous colorful shields on the various buildings, you may recognize this location, specifically the large stone post, center-right in the photo below.

While walking up and down the narrow, winding side streets that radiate from Piazza Grande, I couldn't help but remember scenes from the movie where the whole family of three, Guido, Dora and son, Giosue are flying through the streets on their bicycle. This is the part of the movie I love to remember! They were so happy.

By the way, it just occurred to me that you may begin to think I took this trip to Italy to visit movie locations! Not only do I have photos from Arezzo where Life is Beautiful was filmed, but I also have photos from Cortona where Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed and Montepulciano, where several scenes from the Twilight series movie, New Moon were filmed. I'll share these soon as well! Take care.

Au revoir, Mitty

Thursday, July 5, 2012

French Demarteau Engravings "Hours of the Day" Le Matin, Le Midi, L'Apres Midi, Le soir

Any time I travel I make it a point to attend the weekly markets of the local villages. Early one morning at the Florence, Italy antique market, I spotted 4 beautiful French engravings in a booth, the frames twinkling in the sun. With a little luck, and my friend as translator, I bartered with the vendor on the price of the engravings and swept them up!
After much research on the engravings, I just added them to My Faux French Chateau store! (They should be up on the site in about  24 hours.)
These beautiful gold tone wood frames contained a collection of (4) late 18th/early 19th century color crayon manner engravings entitled  "Le Matin" (The Morning), "Le Midi" (Midday), "L’Apres Midi" (The Afternoon) and "Le Soir" (The Evening.)  These engraving are by Gilles Demarteau (engraver) and rendered after the artist J.B. Huet (painter). Purchased in Florence, Italy, these French engravings appear to have been framed in Italy and bear beautiful Italian backing paper.

The engravings have the following markings:

Bottom Left Corner:

J.B. Huet pinceit

Du Cabinet de Mr. Nera

Bottom Middle:

A Parusm chez. Demarteau, Graveur et Pensionnaire du Eoi, rue de la Pelleterie, a la Cloche.

Bottom Right Corner:

Demarteau Jeulprit

No. 546 (Le Matin), 547 (Le Midi), 548 (L’Apres Midi) and 549 (Le Soir) respectively

Each of the four engravings depicts a peaceful French pastoral scene with a shepherd or shepherdess with his/her flock of sheep during various times of the day. Each scene is set within a fictive stone frame. The pastoral scenes and the overall subject matter and feel of these engravings reminded me immediately of my favorite French toile fabrics.

 Le Matin (Morning)

Le Midi (Noon or Midday)


Le Midi detail

Le Midi is my favorite of the four engravings! It depicts a peaceful pastoral scene with a shepherdess at the center. She sits quietly, surrounded by her sheep, lost in a world of daydreams.

L'Apres Midi (Afternoon)

L'Apres Midi detail

Le Soir  (Evening)

Le Soir detail

I'm working on information about the creative process used by Demarteau to create these engravings. I'll share this information on "color crayon engraving" with you soon!

Take care.

Au revoir, Mitty