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Ernest Walbourn at La Faouët 1923

This is the third post about Ernest Walbourn’s painting trip to Brittany in 1923 and our attempts  to follow in his footsteps in 2005. The  previous posts can be seen here and here.

We drove on to La Faouët and were amazed to come across a huge timber-framed market hall very like the one in several of the pictures which Penny’s father Peter Walbourn had labelled Rochefort-en-Terre.







It’s another lovely old town, slightly scruffy and also associated with artists of the twenties and thirties.  Many had painted similar scenes to ours, mostly of peasants at market. We scoured the town for matching views. Penny had already worked out that parts of what seemed to be the same building appeared in two of the photos tucked into the 12 year old Peter’s sketch book. These showed market stalls and traders apparently in the street; we quickly realised that these were taken from the far end of the market hall, and apart from the rather busy road not much had changed.

By mid-morning the market was teeming with people, just as it had been when Ernest painted the stalls in 1923.


We subsequently discovered that the market is only held twice a month, so we were very lucky to walk straight into a modern equivalent of the scenes in the paintings.

We also located the site of Ernest’s charming side view of the hall, which was now graced with a pissoir in the foreground.









We couldn’t make all the Rochefort pictures fit La Faouët. We spent ages failing to find a Breton house with a well in front of it and went to bed exhausted but still very pleased with ourselves.

The next day we visited the Musée du Faouët, to find many pictures of the town painted by French, British and American artists of the 20s and 30s. One of them, Le Jour des Pauvres , painted in 1920 by Germaine David-Nillet showed the same view of the market square also with knots of people standing around apparently waiting for something. The museum assistant told us that in the late summer there used to be a day set aside for almsgiving: both David-Nillet and Ernest Walbourn had captured the same scene on the same day three years apart.

Picture credits: Le Jour des Pauvres by Germaine David-Nillet: Henri Moreau (Wikimedia Commons)

all others John & Penny Potter

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