Arrived in Paris this morning, I go down the boulevard Arago from Denfert-Rochereau, as usual when I travel to the capital. I know this neighborhood well, which is where I grew up, Arago, Mouffetard, Port-Royal, Saint-Marcel, Gobelins.
I usually walk briskly, I pass in front of the sinister prison of La Santé sung by Yves Duteil, I trample the dead leaves deposited by the barely present autumn. I don't know why, but my eyes suddenly go to a kiosk that would not have attracted any particular attention a century ago, but which suddenly seemed incongruous to the landscape. This dark green sheet metal vessel anchored to the asphalt of the sidewalk is perhaps the last vespasienne in Paris. Intended to collect the more or less imperious urinations of passing gentlemen while preserving the essential of the glances, the vespasiennes were introduced in Pairs from 1877, gradually replacing the famous "Colonnes Rambuteau", of which 400 specimens had been installed in 1841.
I contemplated for a moment this now useless vestige (although...) of an era of galloping modernity, yet included in certain paintings by our realist friends like Édouard Febvre (1885-1967) or even by Alexandre Roubtzoff (1884-1949), painters who had fallen into oblivion. And I wondered how these ladies did, envious, no doubt, of such convenience offered to these gentlemen and who, for the same need, had to seek asylum in a tavern, failing to find a protective grove.
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...