|Jean Cocteau, artist, poet, screenwriter, director.|
This is a photo of one on display at the house. The
others, of buildings and gardens, are by JT Marlin.
The driving itself was a pleasure, on less busy roads with greenery lush from the summer's growth and recent rains.
Jean Cocteau's Maison du Bailli was his "refuge" from 1947 until he died in 1963.
|The huge Milly covered market marked|
its 500th anniversary in 1979.
Cocteau's house is on the edge of Milly, which is four times as large as Cély, where we are staying, or Barbizon, both of which have about 1,200 residents.
|Cocteau's house from the garden, which he designed. The|
orchard keeps the apple trees at bush level, pruning and
training them on wires like grape vines.
We came to Milly on Thursday, the day of the weekly market. It was a bigger affair than we have seen anywhere in the region during the past week. The covered market is is more than 500 years old.
What is the fascination of going to the homes of artists and writers? The president of the Maison Jean Cocteau says:
Opening to the public a house where an artist, poet and writer lived and worked is to allow the public to discover his secrets, to truly sense his creative realm, and share his intimate world.
|The candles on pitchforks are for St. Blaise. The Christ in|
thorns is truly evocative of the Passion.
|Parts of the Château de la Bonde |
date to the 12th century.
My French teacher at Portsmouth Priory (now Abbey) school was keen on Cocteau and we read some of his writing in the class.
Cocteau and his companion Jean Marais are often considered the first modern gay couple, but in the 1950s when I was at Portsmouth that topic was not openly discussed, at least not with me.
What could be discussed was Cocteau's creative genius, his art, his poetry, his films. It all makes sense at his house, where he fled to from the constant interruption he was subjected to in Paris.
|Sphinx in garden today.|
|Cocteau with sphinx.|
The sphinx is surely in one of his films.
The Cocteau house, compared with the Millet house and museum in Barbizon, has an impressive collection of original art.
Several short film clips are shown - for example one in which a young Cocteau is encouraged by a talking statue to try to jump through a mirror - and he succeeds (the mirror morphs into a swimming pool).
|The Roman soldiers are seen pretending not to see what is|
happening - they are yawning, snoring or looking the other
|Cocteau signed his chapel mural with|
The chapel, where lepers and others came to pray to Saint Blaise, the healer, is surrounded by a botanical garden. Cocteau has painted medicinal herbs around the two longer walls of the chapel. The chapel painting reminded me of some of the images in the Matisse Chapel, but Cocteau is much more evocative of the crucifixion.
Maison Jean Cocteau (Somogy Art Publishers).