Sunday, September 20, 2015

Amazing Albi

We stopped in Albi mainly because I wanted to see the Toulouse Lautrec Museum and it was a real treat. Many, many salons filled with his paintings, showing his progression as an artist, even some of his notebooks in school with artistic doodles and some early paintings of horses that really didn't look much like horses, Surprisingly, this wonderful exhibit was even free!

The exhibit was housed in the former Palais de Berbiers. Apparently Youlouse-Lautrec's mother offered these works to the Louvre. When they declined, his home town of Albi lucked out.

I was pretty focused on the art at this stop. Wayne said we might as well take a look at the church as well. So we went over my protests that we'd already seen so many churches. Well, thank goodness he pushed, as Saint Cecile is totally amazing.  It was built to project the power and authority of the church after the Albigensian (or Cathar) dissensions in the 13thC. And it's very different from other churches we'd seen.  Firstly it's brick - "the largest brick building in the world", said the audioguide. With the largest organ in France. 

Third, it has a perfectly preserved roood screen. There used to be many of these rood screens dividing the parishioners from the clergy. When that went out of fashion, many churches destroyed their rood screens. Saint Cecile essentially built a second church behind the rood screen, which is why we got to enjoy this:

Lastly, instead of the usual stone, this church is painted on plaster throughout, and has retained its colours well enough that it hasn't had to be restored.  Look at the vibrancy of these colours on one of the wall niches and on the vaulted ceiling.

Thanks to Wayne for the nudge to visit this remarkable church. 

Albi was so interesting because of all the brick, since we've seen hardly any brick in France. On the way out of town, we saw this lovely brick arch

 and this brick aquaduct

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