Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe - Édouard Manet, 1863
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
One of my favourite courses in high school was the art history. I loved learning how to ‘read’ paintings and sculpture, seeing things in a new way and studying artistic interpretations. Of course, in a rough and tumble household of six, I sometimes got razzed for my ‘uppity’ leanings and my mother would have to admonish a mocking sibling with ‘Leave her alone. She’s doing her homework.”
I remember studying at the kitchen table one evening after dinner, my workbooks and papers scattered around me, my copy of ‘The Impressionism Movement’ open to Édouard Manet’s 1863 painting called Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass in English) trying to figure out what was going on in the painting. It shows a nude woman having lunch with two fully clothed men in a rural setting, while another barely-dressed woman bathes in a stream. I was deep in thought…the play on light and dark, how it seemed like there were two separate paintings one canvass – one of two women and one of two men - how the bathing woman seems to float above the other figures.
Lost in deep thought, I didn’t hear my brother enter the room.
‘What’s really going on in this painting?’ I wondered aloud.
‘Well, it looks to me like those two chicks lost a game of spin-the-bottle’ my brother said glancing at the open book as he walked by the table on his way to the fridge.
‘Philistine!’ I shot back tartly, gathering up my books and pens and retreating to my room to study alone. Again.
Impressionism is considered the first modern movement in painting. It was born when a group of Paris-based artists in the 1860s broke away from traditional painting by focusing on capturing the sensory effect of a scene rather than the realism of it. Shapes and contours are suggested rather than depicted. It is characterized by thin, visible brush strokes, open composition and the depiction of the changing qualities of light.
When Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe was fist exhibited it caused quite a stir – a naked women sitting in a forest with two fully dressed men? Scandalous! But it was also new and exciting, which makes it the perfect muse for Sur L'herbe, one of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s new colognes. Colognes? From L’Artisan? Yep, colognes. Sur L'herbe, along with, Au Bord de L’eau, are the two fragrances in L’Artisan’s first ever cologne collection. Both were created by nose Fabrice Pellegrin. He’s known around here as the perfumer behind White Tubéreuse, Volutes EdP, Liquid Crystal, Essences Insensées Mimosa and Black Amber among others.
It opens fresh and lovely with a gentle note of bright bergamot and sweet, clean-smelling neroli. Fir absolu adds to the freshness with its slight aroma of citrus and its evergreen smell. The evergreen trails to the heart where I smell flowers – not one distinct flower – just carpets of them. This comes from paradisone. It definitely places me in the cool of a forest on a perfect summer’s day. The heart rests on white musk and ambergris. Over time Sur L'herbe dries down to a smooth, tender, musky skin scent with a green note hums in the background.
The experience of the fragrance is like looking at an out of focus photo, blurry and with no clear definitions, making Sur L'herbe is a true olfactory moment captured in time. To achieve this Impressionist effect the L’Artisan website says Pellegrain was prompted to ‘reinvent neroli or rather, the distillation of the orange blossom petal plant, by injecting a saturation of light. He has placed at the heart of the cologne, a solar accord, to which he has added white musk and amber ingredients with an overdose of oxygen which blurs all preconceptions.’
That explains why every time I wear Sur L'herbe it smells new and exciting. It’s gonna be a great summer – I can just smell it.
Sur L'herbe is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.
Image - Wikipedia