Thursday, December 24, 2009

PARIS. 1898

Who can explain how the mind wanders?

The Ecole.  Credit due Lindernaute

On this rainy Christmas Eve of 2009, somehow, I've been drawn to Paris. 1898. To the Quai Malaquais. To my right, the tip of Cite pierces the Seine. Ahead, the Louvre. To my left, the Tuileries. Behind me is the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

1898 was a remarkable year in Paris. For Chicago. But, it would have been impossible to know then. That Peirce Anderson, Ed Bennett and Henry Hering, three students at the Ecole, all in their twenties, would dominate their fields in Chicago for the next quarter of a Century. Anderson in Architecture. Bennett in Urban Planning. Hering in Sculpture. Hering, the youngest of the three, had already worked with Daniel Burnham at the Columbian Exposition. Anderson and Bennett had no higher hopes. Surely they listened with envy to his stories of Standford White. Charles Atwood. Augustus Saint Gaudens.

These would be memories shared by these three from Union Station, and the Field Museum to Wacker Drive and the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Vin rouge ordinaire. Gitaines. Breakfast Baguettes. Childe Hassam. Camille Pissaro's latest. Nouveau. And the Ecole itself. An undercurrent of shared experience that History doesn't describe. Christmas Eve at Notre Dame. And Chicago. Waiting.

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