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Raymond Isidore’s La Maison Picassiette

Raymond Isidore’s La Maison Picassiette
Chartres, France

Raymond Isidore (1900-1964) worked as a molder when he was young, but after his health forced him to stop he found work as a sweeper at a local cemetery. In 1929 he purchased a plot of land and began construction on a one-story house for his family. While on a walk in 1938 Isidore came across pieces of broken pottery and was inspired to begin making mosaics out of these materials. Over the next thirty years he covered the entirety of his house with mosaics. Isidore drew inspiration from Christian symbols and characters as well as his own dreams. He also built several smaller structures, including a chapel, throne, and a wall to enclose the site.

The site became known as La Maison Picassiette or The House of a Million Pieces. Isidore’s work, along with his frequent foraging through garbage to find his materials, earned him the nickname Picassiette. This is a twist on pique-assiette (scavenger in French), as well as a reference to Picasso combined with the word assiette (plate). The site was actually visited by Picasso in 1954. Isidore is seen as one of the pioneers of the trencadís style of mosaics, which is also referred to as pique-assiette.

Isidore’s house has been declared an Official Monument of Historic Importance. It is now part of the Chartres Museum of Fine Arts and is open to the public on a regular basis.

Raymond Isidore’s name is on the windowsill in the middle gallery, and Maison Picassiette is included on the mosaic above the west gallery wall.

Resources:
Biography and photos
Video The History of La Maison Picassiette in Chartres, France by Pamglobe (6 minutes, 2019)
Book Monsieur Picassiette : Raymond Isidore et sa cathédrale by Edgardo Franzosini (1995)

Top & Button Photo Credit: Michael P. Chang via Artsy