Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Le Palais Briaud

Le Palais Briaud is an Italianate mansion overlooking the village of Varades, just north of Saint-Florent-le-Vieil on the River Loire. It was built sometime in the 1850s or thereabouts by a French railroad magnate who made his fortune building railways both in France and in Italy (hence the architecture). We found the palace in Alec Sawdays special places to stay; it is a bit run down, and some outbuildings are entirely in ruins. But the main house is still very fine, with many original features and furnishings. 
The painting is of a small corner of the first floor landing, which stretches from front to back of the house with the bedrooms off; there are at least two small sitting rooms, this being the open one. I thought it made a useful still life - I like to "find" them instead of setting them up. There is still work to be done on the doors in the background; the way the light fades from left to right is partly deliberate, but the camera has exaggerated the effect the the right side is not so pallid in reality. The two small paintings in the top right corner are unidentifiable in my reference photos, but I painted a pair of vintage locomotives, in the spirit of the original owner. The support is Clairefontaine's pastelmat, 27 x 19 ins.

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