The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #208


A reader writes:

Unlikely is one thing, impossible another. If someone gets a correct answer to this, there is devilry at work.

Another sees himself in the photo:

I think that’s me in the pink shirt.  Wish I could remember where I was.


Because no European would dress like that guy in the pink shirt, this must be America and not France (Versailles) or Austria (Schonbrunn). Thus, I go with the one European-style palace in America: The Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, North Carolina.

Another surges into first place:

I knew right off the bat where this was, since I’ve spent many hours racing around the topiary bushes here with Mario and Luigi. This is obviously the garden at Princess Peach’s Castle in the Mushroom Kingdom (Mario Kart Wii). I can even point out the window from which the photo was taken:


Another looks to cinema:

I’ve never actively participated before, but when I saw this picture I immediately was reminded of Kenneth Branagh’s film version of Much Ado About Nothing. I am probably wrong – but in case I’m not, my guess is Villa Vignamaggio in Tuscany, Italy.

Another gets the right country:

The window in need of repair, with the garden looking immaculate, brings back memories of Versailles, France, and the righteous anger rising inside at the excessive opulence, which no doubt contributed to the unrest and eventual revolution. Yes, I say Versailles! Now let me calm down and foster thoughts of Jean Valjean.

Another makes an important discovery:

pandaI’m pretty sure that this will be the most popular wrong answer this week. After a weekend learning about formal gardens, I couldn’t find the location in the picture, but while glancing at the screen, my wife noticed that a section of the gardens at Versailles looks like a panda from the air. So there’s that.

Another reader, although far too brief, nails the city:

Paris, France

Another gets the right location in Paris:


I’ll make this short and sweet because I’m leaving to take my wife in for spinal surgery:

The photo was taken from the far left window overlooking the gardens at the Musée Rodin in Paris. 79 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France. More specifically:


That’s also the right window, which most of our correct guessers picked this week. Below is an OpenHeatMap of all of the entries (zoom in by double-clicking an area of interest, or drag your cursor up and down the slide):

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Another reader goes into greater detail:

This is definitely France, given the particular kind of molding on the window frames, the fact they are French windows and not sash windows, and the way the roses are surrounded by trimmed box hedges. This could be any one of many 18th century manoirs/hotels particuliers/chateaux, but I would bet it’s the formal gardens in back of the Hotel Biron in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, aka the Musee Rodin.

Another walks us through the garden:

It contains characters from Dante’s Inferno, each depicted in a separate sculpture that Rodin brought together in his Gates of Hell.  In the contest picture, for example, sitting in the fountain is Rodin’s Ugolino before he devours his children:


I bet the family walking down the path in the contest photo will have a great time discussing that sculpture over dinner.  Also, one of the Shades which Rodin later combined with two others to create The Three Shades is off on the left of the fountain. Rodin placed a small version of The Three Shades at the top of his Gates of Hell above The Thinker.


I went to the Rodin museum in my stumbling early twenties and it absolutely transformed the way I thought and felt about art. Rodin had such a unique and powerful gift for capturing emotion and form, and to be surrounded by so much of his work was simply overwhelming in a way no previous museum or gallery had ever been for me. In particular there was something about the raw, eros-charged physicality of Rodin’s pieces that I practically had to restrain myself from reaching out and touching them:


His impressive private art collection is housed there as well, as is some of the work of his lover and muse Camille Claudel, which truly emphasizes the intimacy of the place. What an incredible, unforgettable experience. Everyone should go.

Along those lines, a few people mentioned the museum was on their bucket list, but none more movingly than this reader:

I immediately recognized the surroundings, as this is, along with Musée image208d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre, among my very favorite places in the world. Rodin’s most famous works are found in the elegant surroundings of the Hôtel Biron  where from inside this photo was taken  and the surrounding gardens.

On a personal note: You’ve detailed my health situation in the past, as I deal with an eventually terminal illness. My “bucket list” trip while I could still travel was to Paris with my wife last year, to visit these places one more time  and the first time with her.

This contest gives me something to fill my time and look forward to each week, and I would be lying to say that this week hasn’t been a little more special. The memories that seeing this window evokes have made this week’s contest a trip outside of my everyday reality. I’ve been hoping for a win, but this is (almost) just as good. Thanks.

On a very different note:

In the course of investigating this view on Google Streetview, I found what appears to be a lesser known Rodin work. Looks like Jared from Subway:


Another examines the image for more useful clues:

It’s not much past midday, judging from the shadows, a beautiful temperate day, the quality of light, the flowers, and the tourists’ choices of attire, yet very few tourists have chosen to spend this lovely day in this garden. Might that suggest that the garden has lots of competition for tourists’ attention just beyond the hedges?

Therefore we have a garden attached to a museum, probably a museum of statuary, which is probably in a great city. Since it isn’t the Galleria Borghese in Rome, because I’ve been to it, then it must be the Musée Rodin, 79 rue de Varenne, Paris. And the three statues visible in the frame are “Adam” to the left, “The Meditation” to the right, and between them, just above mister pinkshirt, is “Ugolino [kneeling over] and [about to chow down on] his children” in the center of a difficult-to-discern pool.

Tourists avoiding this garden may be a mile to the east perched at a table outside Café de Flore, nursing un p’tit rouge and trying to be existentialists. Or a mile and change to the west at the top of the Eiffel Tower, gazing east toward Les Invalides (and so, incidentally, over the hedge into this very jardin).


I only wish that was how I identified this window. But no. I Googled “sculpture garden hedges” and the 134th image looked remarkably similar to that tri-arch hedge in the background. It took seconds. After that it was just a matter of picking out the panes of the window (not the window itself, because that’s obvious). Ground floor, west wing, south side, second and third pair of panes up from the bottom, on the right half of the window when viewed from the garden.


A reader living in Paris:

I bet this one will get plenty of correct answers. Or, at least I hope so! The tiny bronze forms on the horizon are unmistakeable: Rodin. I recognized them at first sight.

Six months out of every year, I teach drawing from 16th – 18th c. sculpture at the Musee du Louvre, to art students from all over the world, in a private program that I founded myself. I’m American but have lived in France for the last 13 years, and in Paris for the last 4.5 years. My wife and I are both artists, and the gardens of the Musee Rodin are a favorite place to visit. The museum has been in renovations for years, and the last time I visited there was last winter. The first time I went was as a student, in 1994 as seen in this embarrassingly earnest pic:

They are currently hosting a fine exhibition on the influence of Rodin’s sculpture on the photography of Robert Mapplethorpe. I hope to go this weekend.


How I WISH I could be one of the Dishheads who goes scouting the location of the VFYW this week. This is not just a sculpture garden, it is the sculpture garden. (If you want to mess with all the NSFW-phobic folks, you can post this image, which the museum is using to promote the current Mappelthorpe/Rodin exhibit. It’s effing culture, people!)

Personal story? I first visited the Rodin Garden in 1998 after a term studying in England; my mother and I spent a week touring Paris and climbing all the stairs we could find in the city. Not too many stairs in the Musée Rodin, but I thought it was the most romantic place I’d ever been and dreamed of proposing to a girl there one day. Fast forward fifteen years and … my brother proposed to his girlfriend there. Younger brothers always steal your best ideas.


As an architect I’ve taken my kids – they would say dragged – to many of the worlds great kidsmuseums and buildings. Since I never got a chance to go anywhere when I was a kid, I hoped they would appreciate it and enjoy learning about Art & Architecture as I did during my studies.

More often than than not, though, they would just melt down. We visited the Musee Rodin over the holiday break in 2005. To express their displeasure with having to walk through another museum in Paris they decided to reenact the pained pose of Andrieus d’Andre Vetu, one of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais. Oh well, what’s a dad to do?

Another learns to never doubt the spouse when it comes to Paris:

I spent several hours yesterday sifting through approximately one jillion pictures of formal gardens. No luck, although I did learn some gardening jargon (have you ever wondered what a parterre or a pelouse is?).  Just when I was losing all hope, my wife walked over and said “Hey, isn’t that a Rodin?”  I took a closer look at the sculpture near the left side of the circular walkway, but it just looked like a little gray smudge.  I told her she was crazy, we could barely tell that it was a sculpture, let alone who the artist was. Oops.

Chini yawns:

Some of these VFYW searches would take forever to explain, but my thought process this week was pretty short: “Hmm, hedges, looks like it’s gonna be a garden hunt … hey, that statue looks like a Rodin … kinda like The Burghers at the Met, but in a garden … oh wait, it can’t be … <google searches> … oh darnit, it is. And I didn’t even get started on my latte … ”

Another reader owes Rodin a beer:

I’ve never visited here, nor do I have any particular interest in gardens or sculpture. BUT I did once have a framed print of Rodin’s The Kiss in my apartment when I was in college, and the air of worldly sophistication that it afforded me certainly helped with the ladies. Maybe. But it definitely helped tonight, when I realized that those fuzzy globs sort of looked Rodin-esque.

A former winner shows how it’s done:


Attempts to identify the window panes in the photograph assumed that they were above the decorative wrought iron window grill (because it is not in the photograph) and at the height of someone standing. The window hardware barely visible in the darkened left side of the contest photograph places the panes on the western casement of the double casement window (actually two double casement inswing windows as found throughout the museum). The visible hardware includes components of the vertical rod and locking device that hold the two casements shut and is therefore located where the two join when closed. The round component is probably the handle connected to the locking device and vertical rod. Attached is a collage comparing hardware found on other museum windows with that visible in the contest window.

Speaking of collages, here’s another Dish original:


This week’s tiebreaker goes to a reader on our list of previous contestants who have correctly guessed difficult contests but never won. A process walkthrough:

No buildings? No skyline? You’ve got to be kidding me. Google Earth isn’t going to be a help on this one. So what do we know? Looks like it could be the gardens at Versailles, couple of sculptures can be seen but its hard to make out what they are. Since there doesn’t seem to be a lot of other clues, what the heck, let’s just Google: “Sculpture Garden”. For some reason, when you do, you come up with an inordinate number of images for this Spoon with a Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden:


But the window really doesn’t look like it is in Minneapolis, so what else do I know? There really isn’t a lot there. I guess there are a bunch of hedges. So why not, I’m feeling lucky, let’s unleash the power of Google: “Sculpture Garden Hedge”. And Boom! Just like that. By the magic of the internet there it is. On the first page of image results … it’s the hedge with three arches from the from the back of the photo along with a caption specifying Gardens of Rodin! And so, the Musée Rodin in Paris.

With a three-word Google search, this week’s window goes from completely impossible to getting my weekend back in the span of just 10 minutes! My guess:


Congrats, and with a cherry on top! From the submitter of the window view, an artist:

It’s one of my favorite places in Paris, though nothing like it was in Rodin’s time, when it was more of a pastural paradise in the city. What an amazing place it must have been to have had a studio.

(Archive: Text|Gallery)