The Boëry family, descendants of the Daribeau de Lacassagne line, donated a rare work to the Agen museum.
The exceptional presentation of the painting “The Perspective of the city of Agen seen from the Faubourg du Passage” dated 1648 and bequest of the de Boëry family will be made on Saturday June 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts in Agen, recipient of this historical masterpiece, considered to be the oldest painting representing the city in times troubled by the wars of religion and territories. Agen also experienced a terrible epidemic of the Black Death in 1628.
The restoration of this painting was partly financed by the Drac Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and carried out by Eric Ouley for the pictorial part and Sophie Nicolas for the frame. This work was exhibited twice: in 1863 during an exhibition of paintings, works of art and antiques from the city of Agen and in 1879 during the exhibition of Fine Arts in the competition. agricultural region in Agen. A first reproduction engraved by the printing office of the city of Agen will appear in 1880, taken up in the 2000s by the Martin-Delbert bookstore.
According to Father Thibaud de La Serre, parish priest of Sainte-Catherine de Villeneuve and a descendant of a branch of the Daribeaus who wrote the note for the analysis of the work, it is an original watercolor with gouache. , pasted on paper and framed in the 18th century. Its gilded wooden frame includes an upper Louis XV style cartouche indicating the title and below, a large cartouche mentioning the description of 38 place numbers. The reverse of the painting features an 18th century calligraphy. The author of this painting is unknown, but the quality of the colors, the precision of the drawing, the general harmony of the composition and the physiognomy of Agen make one think of a painter who had a certain mastery, says Thibaud de La Serre.
“We can see the main churches, the collegiate church of Saint-Caprais and the cathedral of Saint-Etienne. Only three houses of large Agen families appear in the description: the Montesquieu private mansion, the Montpezat hotel and the Barbier de la Serre hotel” , underlines Béatrice de Castelnau who donated this painting to the museum.
The arrival of the Duke of Epernon
To historically recontext the time of this painting, it is the accession of King Louis XIV and the pompous and expensive entry of the Duke of Épernon into Agen on April 17, 1644. The town became the residence of the country’s nobility. Agen prospers, becomes more beautiful. This lull lasted until the war against the Parliament of Bordeaux. Friendship turned into hatred. The king then gave the province of Guienne to the Prince of Condé Louis de Bourbon, welcomed by popular jubilation. A short-lived joy for the city occupied by the garrisons, divided and ablaze. On May 24, 1648, the Reverend Father Innocent Calatagerone, general of the Capuchins, arrived in town by the Garonne for a procession. In 1649, the consuls of Agen re-established the company of the twelve soldiers of the watch.
This perspective evokes an apparent tranquility, but the medieval town is surrounded by fortifications with an opening on the river indicating economic and political activity.
The history and development of this family property
“This painting has always been in our family, hung in the living room of the Lacassagne residence, our property in Pont-du-Casse with the Illustrious tower located above the castle and its sculpted characters, testifies Béatrice de Castelnau – born de Boëry. Michel Serres often joked that our castle looked like Captain Haddock’s in Tintin. I submitted this painting in 2018 before confinement, the curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Agen came to see it and he found it interesting. It was not in very good condition. I had no news, it had been stored in the museum’s reserves, and then one day, my grandson Thibault de Cacqueray left. concerned and Adrien Enfedaque, the curator, told him that the work had been restored, as had its frame”.
Philippe-Xavier Daribeau art lover
Descendant of Philippe-Xavier Daribeau de Lacassagne from a line of consul of Agen from 1713, Béatrice is the eldest daughter of Guy de Boëry. She does not know the provenance of the painting, but she indicates that her ancestor Philippe-Xavier Daribeau de Lacassagne was a great art collector. “He was an enlightened mind, from the Enlightenment, keen on art, on astronomy. There are other more contemporary pictorial works by Agen from regionalist painters. This painting was dormant in our house and needed to be restored, what we were not able to undertake, so we wanted to bequeath it to the museum. For the record, when my mother died in 2007, I went to the presbytery of Agen and I noticed on the wall an engraving of this painting. The priest explained to me that it came from Martin-Delbert’s”. Abbé Thibaud de La Serre, who studied at the Louvre, was ideal for looking into the history of this perspective of the city, especially since his family home is listed on the web.
Two hypotheses on his paternity
The abbot, in his research, advances two hypotheses on the paternity of the painting after observing the work and having immersed himself in the analysis of the archives of the city of the 17th and 18th centuries. The gouache watercolor was made by an artist led by the Prince of Condé, Governor of Guienne who settled in Agen in 1650 and was offered or left to a family of Agen notables in gratitude for their welcome, such as that of the Ducros (from Lacassagne). Second option, the painting was made by a local artist with the aim of showing openness to the world and the end of military and civil unrest after a difficult and turbulent period. The colors are indeed soft and the whole exudes peace. It may have passed through the hands of one of the many historians of the time, Canon Labenazie for example, and ended up in the Daribeau de Lacassagne family by inheritance or by collector’s interest.
The remarkable painting will be unveiled on June 18 in the presence of Béatrice de Castelnau, her daughter Charlotte de L’Estoile, professor of history at the Sorbonne, and her grandson Thibault de Cacqueray, auditor at the Court of Auditors.