February 09, 2012

Auguste Corsin, La villa des rochers/The villa of rocks

this and the last picture (2011) courtesy of Jacques Corbel

Until recently not much has been published about Auguste Corsin's "Villa of rocks" in Étampes, France. Most items of his sculptured garden have gone lost and it seems he himself has come into oblivion. 

I am happy to report, however, that end 2011 a change has occurred.

A documentary review published on the website "Corpus Étampois"

This webpage has a lot of pictures and includes an extensive documentation. Some data, however, still are missing, so this publication is also a call in order to supplement these.

picture postcard of the front garden (around 1915?) 
as published on the Corpus Étampes website

Life and work

Auguste Corsin (1861-1929) was an employee (machiniste, a job of standing) of the French railways, who served in particular on the Paris-Orleans line. He was born in Montluçon and came to live in Étampes, south of Paris, in 1892.

In the early years of the 20th century, somewhere betweeen 1901 and 1904, he built a house along the Boulevard St Michel (nowadays nr. 50), where he went to live with his family.

For many years Auguste Corsin has been working hard to decorate the garden facing the street. 

The pictures in this post give an impression of the decorations on the columns, that are part of the fence along the streeet. The sculptures and other items that decorated the garden itself, for the most part have gone lost meanwhile. 
But there should have been sculptures of various birds, bears, lions, and monkeys climbing a palm tree. 

Images of the creations have been saved, because the garden appears briefly in a film that was shown in the french pavillion of the International Exposition 1939 in New York (Violon d'Ingres, 1938, 30 min, by Jacques-Bernard Brunius, available on DVD). Stills from this film are on the Corpus Étampois website. Take a look (text in french, but a lot of images).

In the thirties Auguste Corsin's creations enjoyed the interest of surrealist artists from Paris, like these artists also were interested in facteur Cheval's Palais Idéal. 

Nowadays Auguste Corsin may be in oblivion, his work lives on at the Étampes website.

Auguste Corsin
La villa des rochers
Boulevard Saint Michel
Étampes, FR
garden mostly gone lost

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