Ce qui arrêtait ces dames


Installation, painting, sculpture

Ce qui arrêtait ces dames

Past: January 11 → February 25, 2014

It was the stupendous sight of the great exhibition of household linen which had caused the ladies to stop. First of all, surrounding them, there was the entrance hall, with bright mirrors, and paved with mosaics, in which displays of inexpensive goods were drawing the voracious crowd. Then there were the galleries, dazzling in their whiteness like a polar vista, a snowy expanse ufolding with the endlessness of steppes draped with ermine, a mass of glaciers lit up beneath the sun.

It was the same whiteness as that displayed in the outside windows, but heightened and on a colossal scale, burning from one end of the enormous nave to the other with the white blaze of a conflagration at its height. There was nothing but white, all the white goods for every department, an orgy of white, a white star whose radiance was blinding at first, and made it impossible to distinguish any details in in the midst of this total whiteness. Soon the eye grew accustomed to it: to the left in the Monsigny Gallery there stretched out white promontories of linens and calicoes, white rocks of sheets, table-napkins, and handkerchiefs; while in the Michodière Gallery on the right, occupied by the haberdashery, hosiery, and woolens, white edifices were displayed made of pearl buttons, together with a huge construction of white socks, and a whole hall covered with a huge construction of white socks, and a whole covered with white swansdown and illuminated by a distant shaft of light.

But the light was especially bright in the central gallery, where the ribbons and fichus, gloves and silks were situated. The counters disappeared beneath the white of silks and ribbons, of gloves and fichus. Around the iron pillars were twined flounces of white muslin, knotted here and there with white scarves. The staircases were decked with white draperies, draperies of piqué alternating with dimity, running the whole length of the banisters and encircling the halls right up to the second floor; and the ascending whiteness appeared to take wings, merging together and disappearing like a fly of swans. The whiteness then fell back again from the domes in a rain of eiderdown, a sheet of huge snowflakes: white blankets and white coverlets were waving in the air, hung up like banners in a church; long streams of pillow-lace seemed suspended like swarms of white butterflies, humming there motionless; other types of lace were fluttering everywhere, floating like gossamer against a summer sky, filling the air with their white breath. And over the silk counter in the main hall there was the miracle, the altar of this cult of white — a tent made of white curtains hanging down from the glass roof.

Muslins, gauzes, and guipures flowed in light ripples, while richly embroidered tulles and lenghts of oriental silk and silver lamé served as a background to this gigantic decoration, which was evocative both of the tabernacle and of the bedroom. It looked like a great white bed, its virginal whiteness waiting, as in legends, for the white princess, for she who would one day come, all powerful, in her white bridal veil. “Oh ! It’s fantastic ! the ladies kept repeating. Amazing !”

Zola, Emile. 1883. Au bonheur des dames. Paris: Edition G. Charpentier et E. Fasquelle. Extrait, chapitre XIV
Jeanrochdard Gallery Gallery
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13, rue des arquebusiers

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 71 27 35


Saint-Sébastien – Froissart

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

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The artists

  • Samuel François
  • Olivier Kosta Théfaine
  • Jack Greer
  • Leif Ritchey
  • Piotr Lakomy
  • Wes Noble
  • John Roebas