Castres and Francisco Goya

Mar 25, 2014

Martin Fuggle


France was shut as usual yesterday. In fact it's shut every Sunday, Monday and between midday and 2.00 pm every other day. At least in Mazamet and many other towns in France. The major cities don't have these restrictions but they are most inconvenient when they are applied. For those of us who are on holiday having trouble getting out of bed early in the morning, completing one's ablution and eating some breakfast before taking a short drive to the day's place of interest, it is usually close to midday when we are finally ready. The place we want to see is invariably shut so the only thing to do is fill up the two hours with lunch before waddling out to visit whatever place of interest we set out to see in the first place.

So it was with the Musee Goya. We drove into Castres, had lunch and then walked to the gardens on the edge of the river before visiting the museum. The gardens were designed by the same person who designed the gardens at Versailles. French gardens are most interesting and on the basis of the small number of gardens that we have seen they are characterised by geometric designs with exquisitely trimmed shrubs. So it was with the gardens outside of Sarlat and the same with the gardens in Castres. The geometric designs are often replicated on either side of a gravel pathway leading the eye to the next section of the garden.

The Goya museum is in a part of the ancient bishop's palace of Castres which was designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, one of the architects from Versailles. The museum is on the first level of the building which faces the gardens. There are five or six rooms of art and one section of the museum is devoted to a collection of small arms donated by a collector just a few years ago. The art collection consisted in the main of Spanish artists including Francisco Goya whose self portrait is shown on the right.

One of the most prominent paintings was The Last Judgement by Francisco Pacheco which was at the end of the first room on the left.

There were paintings by Velasquez, Picasso and a number of other prominent Spanish artists. The "Bust of man writing" by Pablo Picasso is on loan from the Picasso Museum and can be seen on the left.

We were about to leave when we found that there was an interesting collection of small armaments and resistance artifacts. Altogether there were about 400 pieces, mainly 18th and 19th century pistols. The main exhibits from the 20th century were World War II articles of interest from the French resistance including many pieces of German wartime materials. It capped off a most interesting visit.

About the Author

Martin Fuggle has long been interested in travel, photography and website development as a way of recording travel experiences and other miscellany.

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I am on the committee of Harlequin Rugby Union club but no longer play rugby union. However I thoroughly enjoy royal tennis at the Royal Melbourne Tennis Club in Richmond.

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