• The Cello in Art (11) – Doisneau and Baquet/3

Aren’t words wonderful?  There I was, looking for a brief post, and my eyes lit upon this image.  It’s called Le Sabordage, another in the series of inspired photographs by Robert Doisneau in collaboration with the whacky cellist Maurice Baquet.

• Not knowing what sabordage meant, I had to scurry to my Harrap’s Shorter French and English Dictionary (1).
• On the way, I knocked over the family’s Old English coal bucket (2).
• And I discovered that it means the deliberate sinking of one’s own ship (3).

• The Cello in Art (9) – Doisneau and Baquet/2

This was the first of Robert Doisneau’s photographs of Baquet that I ever saw.  I bought it in a wonderful postcard shop in Tribeca, New York, some time in the 1980s.  It still makes me smile!

Baquet was a remarkably versatile man.  Here’s a 21” clip from a French newsreel of 1946.  Paris was in deep snow and Baquet – an Olympic skier – took advantage.  There are scenes of Paris streets and a view including Montmartre’s famous Moulin de la Galette (painted by many French artists and van Gogh).  The newsreel finishes with Baquet skiing the broad steps in front of Sacré-Coeur and straight down a much narrower flight.

I’ve just come across another historic clip, but one which is viewable only on a French site (ina.fr).  Click on the thumbnail image below.  It’s a recording from what seems to be a French TV variety show and was broadcast by RTF on 12 May 1958.  It’s a 6’ sketch called Le Quatuor, which comprises four cellists (not the standard quartet line-up), with the three on the left playing straight men to Baquet’s clowning.  Doisneau’s image above reappears halfway through Baquet’s routine.  It may seem a bit dated now, but his comedic imagination is sharply honed, as is his command of the cello.  He really could play!

• The Cello in Art (8) – Doisneau and Baquet/1

After posting yesterday’s exuberant image, I recalled the work of the great French photographer Robert Doisneau (1912-94), one of whose close friends was the cellist, actor, singer, comedian – and alpinist, Maurice Baquet (1911-2005).  Together they created a body of photographic images that are unrivalled for their whimsical take on life and performance.

To mark the centenary of their births this year and next, here’s one of my favourites, Les attentions courtesies (c.1942-48).  There’s something touchingly chivalrous, if irrelevant in Baquet’s action: he gets wet for the sake of his cello, which is perfectly dry anyway (that is, if it is inside).  It could be a still from a French film.

Can anyone identify the location?

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