In the Steps of Citizen Kane & the Marciac Cloister
French Heritage Society, Paris Chapter
TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 2017,
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Marciac, a small village in the Gers, world famous for its jazz festival, is an especially remarkable example of the heritage of the region. In the past, the stones of this beautiful bastide were the object of much covetousness. Thus the cloister of the Augustinians of Marciac was sold in 1906 to an antique dealer. The cloister was first thought to be in Paris or even to have been rebuilt in a New York museum. Alas, these leads remained fruitless.
Until the day the municipality of Marciac, which had become the owner of the last vestiges of the monastery, called on the art historian Céline Brugeat. A specialist of the Go
thic cloisters of southwestern France reassembled in the United States, she conducted investigations on both sides of the Atlantic.
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French Stones in America
At its core, The Cloisters combines fragments of four monasteries – Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa on the border of France and Spain, and in France Saint- Guilhem-le-Désert region and Trie-en-Bigorre near Toulouse, and what was thought to be Bonnefont-en-Comminges but was recently identifed by Céline Brugeat as the cloister from the Franciscan monastery at Tarbes, also in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. As work on the structure progressed more frag- ments were added from France to create a space described by the architecture historian Nancy Wu as housing “some of the greatest art objects from the Middle Ages while also miraculously preserving its air of contemplation, its other worldliness, and somehow its very silence.”
"Recently, the municipality engaged art historian Céline Brugeat to undertake yet another inves- tigation. The assignment was Brugeat’s area of expertise: her doctoral thesis at the University of Toulouse had been on French cloisters from the south west transplanted to the United States. In May, Brugeat reported to the municipality that she had traced the missing limestone fragments to William Randolph Hearst’s so-called castle near San Simeon, California."