February 09, 2024

Marcel Lambert, Jardin décoré / Decorated garden

 entrance of the site
this  image and the next one as on Google Streetview (2021)

Jargeau is a municipality with about 4,600 inhabitants (2021) located along the Loire River, twenty kilometers east of Orléans. Around 1900, an art environment was created here, parts of which still exist, as can be seen  from the street.

Life and works

The house on the site, built in 1845, was purchased from a relative in 1895 by Marcel Lambert (1853-1921). It cannot be said with certainty what profession he had, but the assumption has been made that he was an amateur archaeologist, who may also have processed his finds in the region in the garden of the house.

The entrance to the garden in which the house was located (image above) was on the Rue de l'Echo. 

Lambert bought additional strips of land and so the garden. as a kind of urban estate, extended to the next parallel street, the Rue d'Orléans, where there was a artistically executed fence to enclose it (image below).
decorative fencing at the rear of the site

When Lambert died in his late sixties in 1921, he had transformed the resulting extensive space around his house into an art environment richly filled with creations. In addition to the towers already mentioned, he created numerous sculptures, many of which had a classical appearance. But he also made other types of creations, such as a cave.

To get an impression of the nature of the decorations applied by Lambert, one mainly has to rely on the postcards that were made during Lambert's lifetime. After Lambert died, the house was occupied by heirs, who generally did not open the garden to the public, a situation that apart from some rare exceptions. continues to this day.

In fact, on the internet only a publication from the regional Tourist Office is available that somewhat extensive provides information about the various elements that adorned the garden (see documentation).

this image and the next one are old postcards
Elements of the decorated garden

As mentioned, the towers, visible from the street, are still present today. There is a small iron tower to see, with a knight figure on the battlements, the only remaining one of a group of three. On the other side is a somewhat larger stone tower.

A part of the garden has been dedicated to Greek mythology. This section was formed by sculptures of the Three Fates, with on the left Clotho, goddess of birth, who unrolls the thread of life, in the middle Lachesis, who holds the thread as god of adulthood and on the right Atropos, the god of death, cutting the thread of life. 

At the bottom of this arrangement was a bas-relief depicting scenes from human life and an inscription in Greek saying Time passes and does not return.

Another referral to Greek mythology was a wall of the house, decorated with images of gods of Olympus such as Vulcan, Ceres, Bacchus and Jupiter cut from metal plates.

There were many sculptures in the garden, such as a child with a duck, two sheep standing on a piece of grass and a duo depicting Jean laughing and Jean crying. There were also two sculptures that seemed to stand guard and could also function as gargoyles, actually spewing rainwater.

There was also a fake cave in the garden. The story is that Marcel Lambert convinced visitors that from that cave there were underground passages, dating from the Middle Ages and leading to the Loire.

Thus a brief description of the rich collection of creations present in the art environment when Marcel Lambert died in 1921. What the garden looks like more than a hundred years later, is difficult to determine via the internet.

* Article (2020) Le jardin artistique Jargeau by the Office de Tourisme Intercommunal Val de Loire & Foret d’Orléans
* Article (October 2011) by Jean-Michel Chesné on his weblog
* The site was reviewed in the book by Bruno Montpied, Le Gazouillis des Éléphants, Paris (Ed. du Sandre), 2017 

Marcel Lambert

Decorated garden

Rue de l'Echo

Jargeau, dept Loiret, region Centre-Val de Loire, France

no visits, towers can be seen from the street

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