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The treasures of the Gajac museum

The town of Villeneuve sur Lot has an exceptional museum which I have already mentioned in an article devoted to the exhibition "La Rivière au fil de l'art".

Backed by an old mill overlooking the Lot, the Gajac museum is a contemporary building designed by architects Jean-Claude Boussac and Antoine Plazanet in the early 2000s.

It houses a remarkable collection of artists born in the 19th century, including Villeneuvois André Crochepierre (1860-1937), his almost twin Maurice Réalier-Dumas (1860-1928), who bequeathed a large part of his paintings to the city, or another child of the country, Gabriel Antoine Barlangue (1874-1956).

A centerpiece of the collection is a painting by Eva Gonzales (1847-1883), pupil and model of Édouard Manet: "L'enfant de troupe (or the bugler)".

Let's meet some of these treasures that Marlyse Courrech, curator of the museum, was kind enough to show us on a private visit on May 18...

Raoul Dufy. La plage de Sainte-Adresse 1906. © Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr
Maurice Réalier-Dumas. Le Néophyte. Musée de Gajac

Born in Paris, Maurice Réalier-Dumas spent part of his childhood in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, where his father was sub-prefect. In 1879, he entered the School of Fine Arts in the capital, and received the teaching of Jean-Léon Gérôme. Painter, poster artist, he decorated at the request of Georges Leygues the nave of the Sainte Catherine church in Villeneuve-sur-Lot with a fresco "the theory of the saints" completed in 1920.

Eugène Delacroix. Cheval attaché à un piquet. 1825. © Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr
Maurice Réalier-Dumas. Jeunes filles au bord de la rivière. Musée de Gajac

Although he frequented the Impressionists, especially in Chatou where he settled permanently around 1890, Maurice Réalier-Dumas kept his distance from the group, even if he masterfully imprinted on them these vibrant touches that confuse light and color.

André Crochepierre. Portrait du grand-père Albre. Musée de Gajac
André Crochepierre. Portrait du grand-père Albre. Musée de Gajac

Born in Villeneuve-sur-Lot in 1860, André Crochepierre obtained his baccalaureate as a free candidate at the age of 16. This young boy, whose father died prematurely, was passionate about drawing and painting. His precocious talent made him notice and introduce him to artistic Paris where he became a pupil of William Bouguereau in 1882. If he followed the academic teaching of the latter, he superimposed a personal style in the treatment of contrasts and the choice layouts of his portraits and his compositions.

André Crochepierre. Rêverie. 1909. Musée de Gajac
André Crochepierre. Rêverie. 1909. Musée de Gajac
André Crochepierre. Autoportrait au foulard rouge. 1931. Musée de Gajac
André Crochepierre. Autoportrait au foulard rouge. 1931. Musée de Gajac

André Crochepierre married Amélie Detraux in 1894, who was to be the painter's wife, model and inspiration, devoted to the development of his career. If the couple spent six months of the year in Auteuil, near Paris, to prepare for the Salon there, they quickly returned the rest of the time to Villeneuve-sur-Lot where the artist worked in his studio.

Gabriel Antoine Barlangue. Deux enfants dans un jardin. Musée de Gajac
Gabriel Antoine Barlangue. Deux enfants dans un jardin. Musée de Gajac

Born in Villeneuve-sur-Lot in 1874, laureate of the School of Fine Arts in Toulouse, Gabriel Antoine Barlangue moved to Paris in 1893. There he joined the National School of Fine Arts where he trained not only in painting, but also engraving. He received several prizes which crowned his participation in the Salon of the Society of French Artists, for which he was awarded the gold medal in 1926.

Gabriel Antoine Barlangue. Village en hiver. À gauche, la gravure, à droite, la plaque de cuivre originale utilisée pour le tirage. Musée de Gajac.

We will not leave this exceptional museum without lingering in front of the painting by Eva Gonzalez "L'enfant de troupe", which, although it is clearly inspired by Edouard Manet's fifer, shows a rare intensity in the treatment colors and look.

Eva Gonzalez. L'enfant de troupe (ou le clairon). 1870. Musée de Gajac
Eva Gonzalez. L'enfant de troupe (ou le clairon). 1870. Musée de Gajac
Édouard Manet. Le fifre. 1866. © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
Édouard Manet. Le fifre. 1866. © Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

This evocation of a few works kept at the Gajac museum cannot represent all the diversity. The latter has, for example, a unique collection of engravings by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) as well as contemporary paintings such as this view of the port of Algiers by Maria Menton (1915-2003)

Maria Menton. Vue du Port d'Alger. Musée de Gajac
Maria Menton. Vue du Port d'Alger. Musée de Gajac

2 rue des Jardins

47300 Villeneuve-sur-Lot

Tél : 05 53 40 48 00


In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...




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