The little town of Verrières must be one of the prettiest in the Franche-Comté. Its white houses with their steep, red tile roofs spread across a hillside, the folds of which are outlined by clumps of thrifty chestnut trees. The Doubs flows a couple of hundred feet below the town's fortifications, built long ago by the Spaniards and now fallen into ruins...
Scarcely inside the town, one is stunned by the racket of a roaring machine, frightful in its appearance. Twenty ponderous hamers, falling with a crash which makes the street shudder, are lifted for each new stroke by the power of the water wheel. Every one of these hammers makes, everyday, I don't know how many thousand nails. The workmen are pretty, fresh-faced girls; they slip little slivers of iron into place beneath the sledge hammers, which promptly transform them into nails. A primitive factory like this provides one of those sights that must surprise the traveler as he enters for the first time the mountains separating France from Switzerland.
Stendhal, Red and Black, 1830, quoted from Landscape Painting of the Nineteenth Century, Marco Valsecchi, New York, 1971, p. 101.
PLACE: Verrières, Franche-Comté
Springtime in Brittany is sweeter than in the neighbourhood of Paris and comes three weeks earlier. The five birds which herald its appearance, the swallow, the oriole, the cuckoo, the quail and the nightingale, arrive with breezes which lodge in the bays of the Armorican peninsula.
Francois René de Chateaubriand, Memoirs, 1848. Quoted from Landscape Painting of the Nineteenth Century, Marco Valsecchi, New York, 1971, p. 104.
On June 6, 1832, at about eleven in the forenoon, the Luxembourg, solitary and depopulated, was delicious. The quincunxes and flower-beds sent balm and dazzlement into the light, and the branches, wild in the brilliancy of midday, seemed trying to embrace each other. There was in the sycamores a twittering of linnets, the sparrows were triumphal, and the woodpeckers crept along the chestnuts, gently tapping the holes in the bark... This magnificence was free from stain, and the grand silence of happy nature filled the garden, - a heavenly silence, compatible with a thousand strains of music, the fondling tones from the nests, the buzzing of the swarms, and the palpitations of the wind.
Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, 1862. Quoted from Landscape Painting of the Nineteenth Century, Marco Valsecchi, New York, 1971, p. 106.
PLACE: Luxembourg Gardens, Paris.
Narrow beaten tracks, full of footprints, crossed one another in all directions over the trampled and hardened earth... Here might be recognized one of those rural spots to which the great suburbs go to lounge on Sundays, and which remain like turf trampled by a crowd after a display of fireworks ... The whole had the wretchedness and leanness of a trampled and choked vegetation, the sorry look of verdure on the outskirts of a city, where nature seemed to be issuing from the pavement. No song in the branches, no insect on the beaten soil; the noise of the carts bewildeded the birds; the organ suppressed the silence and quivering of the wood; the street passed humming through the landscape.
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Germinie Lacerteux, 1865, quoted from Landscape Painting of the l9th Century, Marco Valsecchi, New York, 1972, p. 107.
PLACE: Bois de Vincennes, Paris.
CIRCUMSTANCE: A Sunday walk
A vague, indeterminate smell of grease and sugar, mixed with the emanations from the water and the smell of tar, rose from the candle factories, the glue factories, the tanneries, the sugar refineries, which were scattered about on the quay amongst thin, dried-up grass. The noise of foundries and the screams of steam-whistles broke, at every moment, the silence of the river.
Edmond and Jules de Goncourt, Renee Mauperin, 1864. Quoted from Landscape Painting of the l9th Century, Marco Valsecchi, New York, 1971, p. 107.
PLACE: Paris, banks of the Seine