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Maison Picassiette


On the other end of the spectrum from Chartres Cathedral, just near the cemetary, is a most amazing place called Maison Picassiette. It is the work of Raymond Isidore, born in Chartres on 8th September 1900. When he was 29, Isidore, a cemetary sweeper, built a little house for himself, his wife and her two sons. When it was finished the next year, he started decorating it with wall paintings that he then started to cover with bits of glass and porcelain picked up during his work and walks in the nearby countryside. For the next thirty-four years, until his death in 1964, he devoted all his spare time to decorating first the inside, then the outside of his house.

When there was nothing left to decorate, he started on the paths and walls of the garden, later buying a small property next door to make a larger garden. He is nicknamed Picassiette because most of the mosaic pièces come from broken china and porcelain he found in the local dump. Picassiette is a play on words, from Picasso, the artist, assiette meaning plate and pique-assiette meaning scrounger (picking food from other people’s plates). Definitely worth a detour!

En contraste total avec la cathédrale de Chartres, tout près d’un cimetière, se trouve la fascinante Maison Picassiette. C’est l’œuvre de Raymond Isidore, né à Chartres le 8 septembre 1900. A l’âge de 29 ans, ce balayeur de cimetière, a construit une maison pour lui, sa femme et ses deux fils. Lorsqu’elle fut terminée l’année suivante, il a commencé à la décorer avec des fresques murales. Ensuite ils les a recouvertes de morceaux de verre et de porcelaine ramassés pendant son travail et lors de promenades dans la campagne autour. Au cours des trente-quatre années suivantes jusqu’à sa mort en 1964, il s’est consacré totalement à la décoration de sa maison, à l’intérieur d’abord et ensuite à l’extérieur.

Lorsqu’il n’y avait plus de surfaces à décorer il a commencé à recouvrir les allées et murs du jardin, achetant ensuite un petit terrain à côté pour faire un jardin plus grand. On l’a surnommé Picassiette en référence à Picasso et à la provenance de ses matériaux c’est-à-dire les bouts d’assiette récupérés à la décharge voisine. A ne pas manquer !



7 replies on “Maison Picassiette”

A man obsessed , but how absolutely brilliant. I wonder if he stayed married? I love his nickname and would love to be able to spend time in the tulip garden. So beautiful.

I’m so glad you saw this place and blogged about it. I hadn’t heard about it when we made a day trip to Chartres (more than a decade ago now!) and we’ve never returned, so consequently I’ve never seen it (but it’s been on my list for years).

@Willaim – Very eye-catching indeed!
@Helen – He went crazy in the end, it seems. Not sure about his wife …
@Susan – Unfortunately we got there just before closing. I intend to write a post on Aussie in France giving more detail.
@Lesley – No, I couldn’t live with it either!

Just love it!
Yes well worth another special visit to the cathedral in Chartres when next I visit the region.

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