After the Lusignans, the famous families of
the Bourbons, the Armagnacs, and then again the Bourbons succeeded as
"Comtes de la Marche" and owners of Crozant. In 1356,
during the Hundred Year's War, the fortress was attacked by Le Prince Noir, Edouard
d'Angleterre, but was victoriously defended by its
captain-governor, Guy Foucaud St Germain
The construction was
not modified again after its reconditioning, in the XVth century,
by King Charles VII, following
the damage caused by the war against the English. It was at this
time that the entrance with the drawbridge was built above the ditch
which closed the spur.
Afterwards, the religious wars of
the end of the XVIth century, the surrender by the owners and an
earthquake, lead to the destruction of the fortress. When King Louis XIII sold the castle in 1640 to Henri Foucaud St Germain
Beaupré, the sale contract specified
that was in ruins.
a few vestiges of the castle remain, except the ruins of the
square keep which became a stately residence in the
XVth century, the chapel and three towers dating from the
XIIIth century: those of Isabelle d'
Angoulème, "Le Renard" and "Colin".
a long time, the site of the old fortress recently
became the property of the commune with the assistance of the Creuse's
Conseil Général (county council), so at present significant
efforts are being made to maintain and develop this important
of the ruins (moderate charge for admission) are currently possible,
all details from the Mairie Tel.: 05 55 89 80 12
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the cradle of Armand
Guillaumin and the impressionists
is also the heart of a territory which extends over about fifty
kilometers through the valley, from Anzème
upstream (3 Lakes'country) to Gargilesse
(Country of George Sand). This territory bordered by the Creuse and Indre, Limousin
and Berry has
, since the end of the XIXth century,
been a source of fertile inspiration for all the modern landscape designers
who have come there: painters fresh from the school of 1830 wishing
to experience the pleasures of open air painting, impressionists
in the footsteps of Claude Monet
and Armand Guillaumin,
then later, a variety of styles, artists in search of symbolism, fauvism
Beyond the techniques, schools and fashions,
the characteristic of this painting lies in the authenticity of
the process of these artists who found in this distant, wild and
sometimes ungrateful area, the landscapes
and the light to translate the object of their
quest: impression, emotion.
Moreover, that close link between the special landscapes of the
Creuse valley and their artistic quest has kept alive for such a long time and even today for the few successors of
"l'école de Crozant",
this passion for a painting style characterized by:
the heart and soul of a country.
some summarized dates :
: George Sand discovers Crozant for the first time. Later, she becomes
starting from Nohant
where she resides, then especially from 1857
when she settles in Gargilesse.
She is the writer who, whilst introducing the Creuse valley
to famous artists (Chopin, Dumas
junior, Maurice Rollinat...) fanned the flames of
the site to the intellectual elite of her time.
-1830 : painters are shrouded
in the "open-air painting movement" and flee their workshops
to be close to nature. In her book "
Walks around a village ", George Sand who very
her new life in Gargilesse, strongly contributes to the notoriety
of the place and attracts in her pastoral surge, a multitude of
painters who come to try for themselves to collect " their Creuse
". Some of them were remarkable: Charles
Donzel, Ernest Hareux, Gaston Vuillier, Allan Osterlind.
- 1864 : the term
"Ecole de Crozant "
appears for the first time.
1883 : the poet Maurice
Rollinat flees Paris and takes refuge in Fresselines. He will take
and continue the promotional work started by George Sand, like her,
to his friends including musicians, writers, journalists, but especially a
new generation of open-air painters , those who for 20 year turned
their backs on "L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts":
- 1889 : Maurice Rollinat
invites Claude Monet
to the Creuse. He goes there for one week in spring, but finds deplorable
weather conditions, persists, remains 3 months and ends up painting 23 canvases on the 2 Creuse sites,
trying his first "series"
- 1892 : Armand Guillaumin arrives in Crozant.
50 years old, the painter, friend of Picasso, Cézanne and
Gaugin, he is at the height of his art and establishes the impressionist
movement whose pictorial audacities are relayed by Leon
Détroy, Paul Madeline, Eugene Alluaud, Albert Joseph, Henri
The beginning of
the XXth century then sees
the glory hours of l'école de Crozant, leading in its wake
other young painters sensitive to other forms of painting: Emile Othon Friesz who tests himself
in Fauvisme, Francis Picabia,
in search of abstraction, who will later turn towards Surrealism.
- 1926 : the filling
of the Eguzon dam
radically changes the sites of the valley and brings an end to the
painters frequentation of Crozant. The huge reservoir which is constructed
at the confluence
of the 2 Creuse no longer interests them. Some linger to paint La Petite Creuse, la Sédelle or la
Gargilesse, but the principal reason for their passion has disappeared!
- 1991 : publication
of the first edition of the book by Christophe Rameix "L'Ecole
de Crozant - les peintres de la Creuse et de Gargilesse -1850 -1950".
It is truly thanks to this book that the public discovered an important
aspect of the history of the 2 Creuse valley (or rediscovered
for the few specialists in painting interested by this regional
movement). We highly recommend it (re-publication in 2002) and we
thank the author for his contribution.
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Crozant, meeting with the Sédelle gorges
Evoking the rivers of our area, we spoke of
La Grande and la Petite Creuse. We also invite you to discover la
small river (with wild trout, for amateurs!) which threads through
splendid gorges, just
before joining Crozant. To walk along its banks gives immense
pleasure of freedom: no houses, from time to time a bridge, and
not far, a mill. That's all. With the song of
the spring water which runs over the stones!
than a long speech, here is a pretty
excursion of 1h45mn which will give you an idea of
it. It is not the wildest circuit we know, but it is perfectly
accessible from Crozant and it will allow you to visit both together.