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.


Update 17.09.18

The river Ourthe

[This is going to be in Dutch for a change, my head’s too fuzzy today].

Afgelopen weekend waren we op het traditionele schoonfamilieweekend in de Ardennen. Ik loop graag in bossen rond, om mijn  hoofd leeg te maken en om inspiratie op te doen, maar in een grote groep luidruchtige volwassenen en kinderen en op een pad dat ook voor een mountainbikerace werd gebruikt was dat wel wat minder vanzelfsprekend.

Met zulk een grote groep bestaat zo’n weekend vooral uit het wachten en rondhangen tussen het bereiden, opeten en opruimen van de maaltijden. Misschien was dat even met niks bijzonders bezig zijn niet zo slecht. Er was nu tijd om te ontspannen, wandelen en zwemmen, ook al omdat wifi en gsm-ontvangst in de Ardennen vaak onbestaande zijn.

We hebben ook de burchtruïne van La-Roche-en-Ardennes bezocht. Hier enkele foto’s:

The castle of La Roche, on a hill in the middle of the city


‘s Avonds terwijl er rondom mij spelletjes gespeeld werden en boeken gelezen had ik tijd om te tekenen. Ik had een hoop tekenspullen meegesleurd omdat ik wat met houtskool en pastel dacht te gaan experimenteren maar na één blik op het bleke Zweedse Ikea-interieur van onze gite heb ik me maar tot mijn vulpotlood en een paar Bourgondiërs beperkt. Ik heb veel langer aan de tekeningen gewerkt dan gewoonlijk maar gezien mijn (officieuze) schoonmoeder nogal wild met cava omgaat zien ze er beschonkener uit dan de bedoeling was oO.

De tekeningen staan onder Wip > Burgundia.

Crumbling tombstone in an old cemetery

Mijn metaqueeste heeft me al een aantal haast slapeloze nachten gekost maar ze vordert zo goed dat ik doorga. Ik baan me als Theseus een weg door een fantastisch labyrinth van wraak, moord, incest, ontucht en devotie, moeilijke vaders, bezorgde moeders en laffe verraders, woede en vergiffenis, krankzinnigheid, bijgeloof, afpersing, uitpersing, trots, spilzucht, duistere symboliek, verborgen sleutels, reizende relikwieën, gestolen schilderijen, verloren schatten, losgelden, verminkingen, en lelijke kapsels. Vooral heel veel lelijke kapsels.



The Sword in the Stone – Part II: Horned and dangerous

Updated on 08/09/18

Last week I leafed through a couple illustrated versions of Orlando Furioso, not as great as the Doré one, though but still ok.  (See earlier post). I wanted to refresh my memory regarding the protagonists and conducted some cursory research.

Orlando or Roland was one of Uncle Charlemagne’s paladins (we’re speaking about 800ish). He travelled to the south of France, not to drink beers at the beach, but to beat up Saracens and some locals, which is a little frowned upon nowadays and rightly so.

Spoiler alert: he died.

“Roland’s own death was very near” – I found this 1900ish looking picture somewhere in the dark abyss of the net

Orlando or Roland also appears in Dante’s Divina Commedia (Canto XXXI of Hell or thereabouts).

In Ariosto’s very fictional tale Orlando goes completely mad after the woman he loves runs off with the Saracen Medoro (I summarise the story based on the Wikipedia page, not sure if this is correct. I had to read quite a few knight’s tales in the past but Orlando Furioso was not one of them. It’s now on my bucket list.)

Angelica and Medoro by G. Doré. Can’t blame Angelica. Medoro has really nice legs.

There are a few other knights in the tale such as Ruggiero, who rescues the chained heroine from a dragon and more trope fantasy stuff. There is also a badass female knight Bramante:

Better not mess with Bramante

Raging Roland, or – if you want – Ripped Roland

Back to the original Roland. No legendary hero is complete without some magical equipment. For Roland this was, besides his horn and his horse, an unbreakable sword called Durendal. I found two different versions of how and where he got it: either through Charlemagne or from the necromancer Maugis, who happens to be the inspiration for the name of this site.

According to legends or the internet (interchangeable), the sword Durendal ended up at Rocamadour (F), a French pilgrimage site. Three years ago we were a bit early for our holiday rental place  so we passed the few extra hours by visiting  the nearby town of Rocamadour. I took a couple pictures there and I dug them up as I wanted to see if I had accidentally photographed the sword. At the time I had no idea Durendal was supposed to be in that place so I didn’t specifically look for it. I scanned the pictures with some guidance from Wiki and guess what?

HAHAHA, found it! Unfortunately, it’s not the original sword but a fake. Who would have thought?

Anyway, the story is not finished.

Durendal was the sharpest sword in existence and unbreakable thanks to some magical accoutrements. The hilt of Durendal is said to have contained four relics (for other uses of relics, see  earlier Holy Blood post): a tooth of St. Peter, hair of St Denis, a piece of the dress of the mother of Jesus and last but not least, blood of Basil of Caesarea.

Theoretically, one could use the above recipe in order to create another magical sword. So I investigated where relics of all those people could theoretically be found today. St. Peter’s grave is in the basilica of the same name in Rome.  The tomb of Mary is in Jerusalem. Saint Denis was buried in Paris (close to where we stayed in Paris in May apparently. If I had known…). Basil’s head is in Greece, but there are other relics of him around, including a couple of his vertebrae, one of which allegedly -is kept in the same basilica as the Blood relic. Which is in Bruges.

Tip of the day: In case you want to create your own magical sword, at least you know now that the Italian job will be the easiest.

Good luck with that…

Orlando Furioso – A quick and messy affair in my sketch book







Na het teleurstellende Sanguine trokken we naar het MAS. Daar was er naast de vaste collectie ook een expo over Michaelina, een schilderes uit de baroktijd. Ik heb niet erg veel foto’s gemaakt.

Hier een paar “sfeerbeelden”:

Schilderij van Michaelina Wautier. Het licht in dit relatieve kleine schilderij was verbazingwekkend.

Een raar schaap op een van de schilderijen, ook door Michaelina

Johannes de Doper door Michaelina

Verder nog wat beeldjes uit diverse landen, uit de vaste collectie:

Ivoren figuurtjes

Beeldje uit de precolumbiaanse afdeling

Idem. Mens met twee honden


Ook mooi: de foto’s met barokke inslag op de wanden van de roltrappen en gangen.

En toen was het tijd om naar huis te gaan.


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.