Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chateau d'Angers

On the weekend we went to Angers to have a look at the fortress there. It was huge and stripey!! It had been even bigger but they cut the tops off the 17 towers and their pepperpot roofs at the end of the 16th centuryas a precaution against a possible attack by the Protestants. This allowed them to introduce cannons into their artillery.It was started in the 9th century to counter the threat from the Normans, the Count of Anjou set it up on a rocky promontory overlooking the river. The Plantagenet's reigned here for 3 centuries. At its height in the 14th & 15th century there was a dazzling court life here of enlightened Royals and art lovers. In the midst of that time Louis 1 Duke of Anjou commissioned a huge tapestry that took 7 years to complete: about 100 metres x 4-5 metres of it are left, originally it was more than half as long again. Here is St John watching the fall of Babylon from his safe little sentry box. In 1782 the Church tried to sell the tapestries but there were no offers. During the Revolution it was thrown out of the Chateau and people cut pieces off for horse blankets and draught stoppers. In 1843 the Bishop of Angers bought up all the pieces he could find for 300 francs (mostly off a rubbish dump).
It depicts St John's version of the Bible and it's apocalyptic visions of scary beasts, fire & brimstone. It's the oldest surviving tapestry of this size. The room it's hung in was built for it around 1952-1954. It was dark & cool in there and the tapestry bent around an L-shaped room. It was like twilight in there and more than a little spooky. Image afer image jumped out at you of wierd & horrible creatures. I'm sure the inspiration for Maurice Sendak's "Where the wild things are", came from here. I wondered why you would want such horrific images on your loungeroom walls.
As a bit of light relief I attach a picture here of the beautiful 'Ivy'. She was staying here with friends Marianne & Chris last week. Ivy fell in love with Cheekee monkey & we fell in love with Ivy. We miss you Ivy. xxxxxxx

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