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Ernest Walbourn in Rochefort-en-Terre

This is the fifth post about Ernest Walbourn’s painting trip to Brittany in 1923 and our attempts  to follow in his footsteps in 2005. 

We’d found almost all of the Walbourn oil sketches that we’d brought with us. We had more photocopies of some of the pencil sketches in 12 year old Peter’s little notebook but none of them seemed to correspond to any of the remaining Ernests. Reflecting on our experiences over the previous two days Penny convinced herself that two or more of the Ernests must be in Rochefort, which Peter had attributed to the Le Faouët paintings and which we had visited but just hadn’t been able to make fit. The next day, our last before setting off for my gig in Avignon, we made the long drive back from Lannion for a closer examination of Rochefort’s market. To our great joy we did indeed find what seemed to be the view: a market square, a grand house and a road sloping away into the distance. We took several pictures before realising that what didn’t quite fit without a lot of excuses (trying to account for missing chimneys, wrong gables and the like). But suddenly everything slotted perfectly into place if we pointed our camera at right-angles: there were all the same ingredients but no compromise was needed – it was clearly the Ernest view, the market long gone.


A few streets away the same thing happened with the house with the well. We found what seemed to be the house but the well seemed to have moved.


Again we changed our own perspective and magically the view appeared, almost identical to the painting, but with municipal plant pots for tourists rather than the 1920s local colour.


There was no sign of Peter’s knight on horseback or his and Ernest’s sketches of tightly packed half timbered houses. We’d only brought photocopies of Peter’s book  rather than risk losing it, which was a pity because if the drawings were all in the same place they would presumably be consecutive entries in the sketchbook.

Nevertheless, we’d been very lucky and resolved to come back again having done some more research, and perhaps even find the bend in the river at Lannion.

When we arrived home we found that all of the unidentified sketches by Peter were indeed together in the book. Penny also managed to make out the name on the statue’s plinth.


Peter’s pencil is barely visible, but multiple web searches eventually  revealed him to be  Bertrand Du Guesclin, the 14th century  Eagle of Brittany (or the Black Dog of Brocéliande, depending on your point of view) still standing in a square in Dinan. Google also has a modern photograph that must have been taken from the same spot that Peter had used. Dinan has (or had) lots of  half-timbered houses, and we resolved that the next year we would go to Dinan, a trip that we still haven’t got around to.


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