March 29, 2009

Raymond Guitet, le Jardin Zoologique/The zoological garden



The inscription on this money box reads N'OUBLIE PAS LE CRÉATEUR (do not forget the creator). This box was on the fence of the garden, so visitors could pay a donation after visiting the site.

Life and works

Raymond Guitet (1876-1956) who lived in Sauveterre de Guyenne, a community in the south-west of France, was a market-gardener (jardinier) by profession, trading in vegetables, fruit, eggs and poultry. And he also was active in the local government acting as a deputy mayor during some periods before 1940.

Around 1950 he began making sculptures which he displayed in his garden, working in the same tradition as Gabriel Albert, Fernand Chatelain, Rene Escaffre and others. It is somewhat curious to note that some authors describe him as a humble edition of the Palais Ideal, since facteur Cheval's concept was quite different.

The garden has been referred to as zoological, and indeed Raymond Guitet has created a number of sculpted animals. But he also made sculptures of personalities, famous ones like Jeanne d' Arc and general le Clerc, and allegoric ones like the three wise men (hear, see, keep silent...)

Jeanne d´Arc

The site is in decay

After Raymond Guitet had passed away, the garden was no longer cared for. Apparently no one in the community felt inclined to help maintain the site, so the garden steadily declined.

The photo below (by Bruno Montpied) shows how in may 2008 the site looked like.



Many sculptures have been stolen and most of those still present (like Jeanne d´Arc, above) are in decay.

Bruno Montpied, author of the weblog le Poignard Subtil, in his post of May 31 2008 has reported about his visit to the garden, describing it's grandeur and décadence.

It´s tragic, such a decay.

situation in 2017
picture thanks to Sophie Lepetit

Being that as it is, let´s keep in mind the text on the money-box and let's remember Raymond Guitet as the creator of a wonderful art environment.

Raymond Guitet
Le jardin zoölogique
Sauveterre de Guyenne, dept Gironde France
site in decay

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