Madelaine Francois’ Favorite Chair
Giclee Print on Mounted Canvas
Edition of 300 S/N
Image: 11″ x 15″
While rambling around the countryside in Normandy a couple of years ago, intentionally and pleasantly lost, Sam and I saw a sign on a stone courtyard wall advertising “Antiquities and Brocante.” We knew, of course what “antiquities” were and we had learned a few days earlier that “brocante” referred to second hand goods, sometimes called ”junk.” We drove through the gate into what seemed like a courtyard from the 18th Century. There stood a three story stone manor house, which we soon learned had been built in the late 1700’s and on each side were massive stone barns, chock full of old furniture, light fixtures, iron gates, ornate old doors: a picker’s dream. (Except for the copious pigeon droppings!) Between the house and the barn on the left was a small outbuilding that was the main antique shop. It was small and dusty, but also packed with great stuff.
Sam immediately spotted a couple of antique button hooks for her ever- growing collection and I focused on a nice old corkscrew for my collection. The proprietor, Madelaine Francois appeared, looking more like a stable hand in worn rubber boots and an old rain jacket than the “Lady of the Manor,” which we had expected. With my limited but adequate French and her more than adequate English, we communicated like old friends. We bought a couple of button hooks and a corkscrew, and she graciously showed Sam her garden and, I have to admit, at my request, invited us into her house, which we really wanted to see. It was a typical French country house like so many that we had seen in books and magazines; black and white marble tile floors, ornate stairs and railings, a gorgeous armoire next to the stairs and well worn but elegant furniture.
I knew that a painting would result from this wonderful adventure. And while the Eiffel Tower, the Orsay Museum and Giverny were wonderful, the visit with Madelaine Francois was probably the highlight of our trip. When we left, she gave Sam a kiss on each cheek and said she hoped that we would come back and she would show me some great places to paint. This painting takes us back.