Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cultural stop

It’s only half an hour’s drive from Loches to Noauns-les-Fontaines, a village that has two interesting, yet completely different things to offer. We wanted to see both!

The first one wasn’t hard to find. It’s the famous Pieta by Jean Fouquet. The painting is on display in the village church. Jean Fouquet, who’s also the creator of the famous painting of the bare-breasted Agnès Sorel as the Virgin Mary, is unanimously considered as one of the most important French painters of the 15th century.

He was born in Tours – the capital of the Touraine - around 1420. He studied art in his home town, Paris and Italy. Later he became portrait painter to the courts of Charles VII – of whom Agnès Sorel was the official mistress – and Louis XI (who was probably responsible for Agnès’ murder). Jean Fouquet's style was based on that of the Flemish primitive painters, the brothers Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. His work is very colourful and not without some humour, except for the Pieta perhaps. He died around 1480.

Village church of Nouans-les-Fontaines.
The oldest parts date from the 13th century

Nouans-les-Fontaines is only a small village in the southern Touraine countryside. It has less than a 1000 inhabitants. The church is located near the village’s main crossroads. Next to it is the ‘Maison de Jean Fouquet’, a museum dedicated to the life and work of the painter. We didn’t visit the house, due to lack of time. So I don’t know whether he actually lived there at some point in his life.

We did visit the church though. The Pieta is an impressive work of art. You can walk right up to it and study it from up close. You can't touch it though, as it protected by a large glass case. While we were visiting, four men with ladders, rags and buckets were busy behind the painting. When we approached the altar, one of the men curiously glanced around the corner of the case. “You’ve come to see the Pieta?”, he enquired. We nodded. “You’re in luck”, he said, “as we have just cleaned it.” And he added: “I’m the mayor, enchanté.”

Although there was no sign indicating that it was forbidden to take photographs, we thought it wiser not to do so. Moreover, the glass case would have reflected the flashlight, spoiling the photo. I did take a picture of the vaulted and beautifully decorated ceiling though.

Artfully decorated vaulted ceiling.

Before leaving the church we asked the mayor whether he could direct us to our second destination: ‘La Ferme des Hauts Bourdiers’. After our cultural stop, it was time for a back-to-basics visit …

Update !

Thanks to one of my faithful readers, I can yet show you
a photo of the 'Piéta de Nouans'.

This photo was taken on location last year. Thank you chm!



chm said...

I'm glad you were able to make it to Nouans-les-Fontaines and have a look at this fabulous painting. As I said, "not to be missed."

ladybird said...

chm, We followed your advise ... and we don't regret it. Thanks again!