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Xpo: Marcel-Lenoir (1872-1931)

This was still in my drafts folder. It’s a post about when we visited the Musée Marcel-Lenoir in Montricoux (F) last July. I don’t think I posted another version of this. In case I did, sorry for that.

The painter with his wife. Picture borrowed from Wikipedia

Montricoux was the little village we stayed in for a week and this was one of the sights. According to our travel guide Marcel-Lenoir was one of the greatest painters of France but had been completely forgotten. He was a symbolist/art nouveau painter and poster designer. This is one of my favourite art periods so obviously this was something we just had to do.

His museum was located in the local castle which is mostly a 1700ish affair but incorporated an old medieval donjon.

The castle. Image borrowed from Wikipedia

When we got there it was a bit chaotic as there were preparations going on for a reggae festival in the park of the castle and the guy selling the tickets was busy supervising that as well. Unfortunately photography was not allowed so I had to steal most pictures from the net.

When you go through the main door you end up in a circular room with four creepy terracotta gods. There’s a little desk where you can buy the tickets. The man selling them to us said they were meant to be used as a bookmarks afterwards. Interesting idea.

Image from a tourist site on the net

As you can see the tickets have been carefully hand-cut by a very drunk person. After acquiring the tickets the man rushed us through some ground floor rooms towards the donjon which is the start of the visit.

The donjon from the outside. Image from the internet

The donjon was a high cold and very dusty room. High up there was an old wooden balcony on the verge of collapsing on top of our heads. The room was filled with medieval style furniture covered in dust and flaky plaster bits: a long cloister table with matching chairs and some wooden velvet covered benches.  Plenty of medievalish trinkets were on display: crockery, pots, candle sticks, embroidered cushions and other useless stuff. that is very good at collecting dust and cobwebs. I felt immediately at home in the castle, it was like travelling back in time to my childhood of rickety furniture, damp, vaulted cellars and the odd ghost.

There was some Marcel-Lenoir (ML hereafter) art on the walls: a framed drawing of angels dancing in a circle and some other stuff. Against the high chimney there was a 1920 style desposition of the cross by ML. Jesus was …. hm very interesting, a rather gender-fluid Gustave Moreauish decadent martyr with long curly hair and no beard. It was painted in bluegreen tones on a large canvas that had been nailed to the damp chimney where it seems to be slowly rotting away.

After this we looked at some rather bad paintings in a dark hallway and then we entered the main more classicist style dining room. The room had stucco mouldings on walls and ceiling. The stucco was white, the flaking walls were painted in some orangey salmon pink wich reminded me of a particularly vile salmon sauce I once got served at a party. I immediately felt nauseous. Luckily my attention was drawn away towards the tattered curtains which were sprinkled with generous amounts of dead flies. There was also a very fresh steaming turd on the floor, with the colour of burnt umber and slightly runny. While I was still Rolling On the Floor with Laughter, the ticket man came rushing in with a dustpan and brush, apologising profusely. It was never clear to us who was responsible for the excrement. Let’s hope it was just a dog.

There was more art in these rooms such as some rather nice art nouveau posters.

Image from Wikipedia

There were also a couple symbolist paintings. One of them was a Jesus head that looked like a Franz von Stuck rehashed for a black metal band from the seventies. It still gives me nightmares when I picture it in my head and I have seen some dark shit in my life.

There were two more rooms to visit, also stuccoed and salmoned. Holes had been drilled in the ceiling and walls in a rather haphazard way to allow for cables and cords to be pulled through. Framed pictures had been piled rather carelessly on tables and were dangling precariously from the edges. More dead flies added a certain fin-de-siècle decadence to the decor. I don’t think it was intentional.

In the large sitting room there were two sofas, both covered in white sheets. When I say white, I mean they were once white but now they were crumpled and covered in black mud. Not sure what happened there. Maybe some satanic orgy involving goats.

This was a most interesting visit.

I managed to photograph one painting by ML. It’s a fresco of the Annunciation. It’s not in the museum but in the church next door.  I would rather call it: ‘Gabriel is upset because he missed the last bus and Mary won’t let him stay the night.”

Highly recommended.

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Day 6: Puycelsi – Zooming in

Last post of the series. This time about the fortified village of Puycelsi. We approached it on a hot day around noon and the streets were not very crowded.

We left the car in a car park at the bottom of the hill and climbed the dusty road towards the village. Must have been fun doing this in full plate armour under the scorching sun.

Through the gate we stormed the village.

Not much chance of raping and pillaging so far.

Where are the hobbits? Where is the loot?

Narrow passageway

Ooh, kitty kitty but the kitty was not pleased.

In one of the houses a choir was rehearsing for the upcoming festival so part of our tour was accompanied by classical music. Bit like in those occult demon summoning horror movies.

Chapelle Saint Jacques, once belonging to the Templars. 

Horses resting near a bar. The knights got off for a pee and an ale, I guess.

This at first sight seemingly normal quiet village housed some oddities.

Obligatory church visit while holidaying:

Colourful interior of the St Corneille church

The angel above the altar urgently needs to see a chiropractor

This painting of the crucifixion in the church is by local artist Armand Thuiller (I deducted this from the signature).  Bit odd, though. John the Baptist can’t have been present at the crucifixion (already beheaded). Did some browsing earlier today to find out more about it and it seems this is a copy of a painting by Grünewald. 

Panoramic views of a presently idyllic countryside. No crusaders in sight. On the left you can see the St. Roch chapel. There is an altar inside, some statues and the tourist office with wifi. Strange place for a tourist office. 

Outside there was a box with books offered by the local bookshop (Le temps de lire, they don’t seem to have a website, but they do have a lot of books in the shop). Plenty of mystery/conspiracy J’ai Lu paperbacks.

Two de Sèdes added to the collection

Nice picturesque view of a small alley. But wait, what’s that behind the window on the upper floor?

Oh, never mind. It’s just a skeleton.

We continued on our tour.

Another pretty house, with a closed gate and sign that says ‘Do not enter’.

Zooming in on the door:

And all the while the choir kept on chanting…

*****

The end.

 

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Day 7: Albi

It’s too hot to paint, even for drawing almost. The past few days I’ve been working in my sketchbook, studies for the things I am working on or will start to work on next month. It’s too hot for Caravaggio as well, so that’s for next week. Today I went to pick up a Greek dude I bought in an auction but that’s also for another time. No WIP today, let’s first finish off the last two travel posts. I’ve switched day 6 and 7 around.

On Thursday we went to Albi, known for its ridiculously big brick cathedral. It’s too hot to write large amounts of text, so mostly images hereafter.

I gave up counting the bricks

I wonder how they painted that ceiling.

Looks a bit condescending, this angel

Nothing more uplifting on your wall than a giant apocalypse

Pool party medieval style

There’s people who cuddle cats and there are those other people

Rosy cheeked angel

Saint Cecilia, patron saint of the cathedral, with some relics

Not sure what this is and what happened down there

Monster, no longer in the closet

Lady in the portal with some graffiti on her feet. I was going to write a whole rant about how people have no respect for monument nowadays until I noticed the dates on the scribblings.

There is so much love for you in my heart. Wait, I’ll tear it out, so I can show you.

See you laters, alligators

And sorry, Jesus

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Day 5 (II): Penne – Masons & Mouse traps

After our visit to Cordes (see earlier post), we drove on to Penne, another small medieval village. The sight of the castle perched on the rock above the village is quite spectacular.

Again, the streets were narrow and steep so we left the car in the car park and climbed up towards the castle. Along the way we passed the St. Catherine church so we took a peek inside. Per usual, a very dark and medieval looking interior, almost a castle in itself.

The entrance to the church, photobombed by an unknown man.

The church interior

A dramatic head of Jesus and other religious paraphernalia, behind bars in one of the side chapels

Another head, this time above a door

Creative ash tray

Doll’s head in a mouse trap, quirky decoration on the door of a house, mostly interesting because I didn’t know there was a brand of mouse traps called Lucifer. 

Local hero Le terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible, some kind of activist and anarchist from what I gather (correct me if I’m wrong)

After paying the entrance fee (6 euros pp) we climbed even higher up towards the castle itself.

Info panel

As you can see, the castle is quite kaputt so it’s being restored

Taking a dump, medieval style

Hey, look who we got here: great great great great… uncle Charlemagne! (there is a saying all Europeans descend from Charlemagne – explains my carrot nose)

The medieval builders are part of the entertainment. They’re busy chiseling perfectly rectangular stones into less perfectly rectangular stones to repair walls.

Life before Fortnite

And with one last view of the castle, this post comes to an end:

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Day 5 (I): Cordes-sur-Ciel – Cats are not dolls

 

On day 5 of our stay in the Tarn et Garonne, we visited Cordes-sur-Ciel. Cordes is a fortified medieval village and was the most important must see of the area according to the travel guides we took along. The village lies high up on a hill and reminded me of St.Cirq-Lapopie but it was much much quieter down here.

Driving through the village is not allowed (and not possible anyway) so we left the car in a car park at the bottom of the hill and climbed up towards the skies.

Main street with all sorts of small artisan shops

Banners in the main street

Passageways underneath houses

Panoramic view from the terrace at the highest point of the village

A house. Zoom in on the balcony now.

Meal or murder? Fairly spooky inn sign.

Mannequins in a window, slightly creepy.

Picturesque street

A curious grotesque

If animals could read…

Shop in the main square, selling all kinds of lecterns and personalised medieval style books and manuscripts. Bit kitsch, ok, ok.

A bad case of pareidolia. I see a surprised face in this. Do you?

Decorative shutter clamp

Time to visit the church:

John the Baptist in a golden fleece. There were many gold painted statues in the churches we visited. They do like bling over here.

Modern painting of Jesus, signed M. Masquin. I have never seen so many Jesuses in one week, nb.

Stained glass window with Saint Sebastian

Then it was time to cuddle the cats:

This pretty cat was not very friendly. When a little girl tried to stroke it, the cat slapped her hand.

This cat was friendly and when I stroked it, it started purring.

But we were not alone. We were being watched by a hidden cat:

After my daily cat cuddles it was time to head on to our next destination, but that is for a new post.