After doing a load of laundry and replenishing my toiletries back in the USA, it was time to leave again — this time to on my own (mostly). With only the goal to start in Grenoble and end in Budapest, I drew a line that took me by as many artworks of Judith as I could find in my database.
Learning from my earlier experiences in England, I did my homework. I mean, I REALLY did my homework –- checking hours and locations, printing maps, plotting public transportation, emailing museums with inquiries about what was on display and about exact locations within their galleries, compiling a print-out of the images and their artists so I could simply point when language failed me. I could not afford to waste time or opportunity!
The fascinating outcome of this art-quest? Despite precise advance planning, I still made mistakes and there were still surprises – but more unplanned encounters than disappointing misses. And so the story begins in France … with a failure.
The first city on the trip was Grenoble – home to the Musée de Grenoble that supposedly owned a Judith by Ambrosius Benson and another by Pietro della Vecchia (aka Pietro Muttoni). Since I was going to be in Grenoble for a few days no-matter-what, I did not write to the museum in advance. Good thing I was there anyway, because NEITHER painting was on display in the museum. In fact, Ambrosius Benson’s Judith was <cringe> “in storage” but they had never heard of a Judith by Pietro Muttoni.
Wah. “In storage” has become two of the most cringe=worthy words to hear when museum-hopping.
In lieu of a Judith beheading Holofernes, here is me (my left foot, actually) in a plastic bubble hanging above the Isère river on the way to the Bastille …
The next day, finally success!! On a side trip to Chambery, the former seat of the Savoy dynasty, I found the Judith I expected. A terracotta statue of Judith by Francesco Ladatte — looking rather morose about her murderous deed.
I could not manage to look as sad as Judith because I was so happy to find her!
Along the way, I learned a little about the House of Savoy (and here I thought it was only a hotel in London). The name comes from the historical and cultural region there extends from the western Alps of France into northwestern Italy, and it dates from 1003 until 1946. The condensed version is: along the way, the House of Savoy acquired a lot of land and a lot of artwork. Very, very ornate artwork.
And just for good measure, I snapped a picture of Jael by Giordano that was also part of the exhibit. At least it was not a painting of Salome.
As an added bonus in Chambery, I visited the Elephant Fountain — which owing to good fortune, had just been returned from refurbishment TWO DAYS prior to my visit. If you can read French or have an excellent translator, here is a description of their return the Chambery. Vive les Elephants!