Hôtel Dieu and Fine Arts Musuem of Mantes-la-Jolie !!

In a not far distant land there is a Royal town of France seldom seen by visitors , a pity indeed . In my beloved old home of Yvelines dept 78 in the Ïle de France region there lies one once a king Henri IV call the most beautiful. I am talking about Mantes-la-Jolie (or Mantes the Beautiful) and its old town center.  Here you will find marvels that I have written/told you before in my posts,and today I like to take you to one special place. This is a museum of Fine Arts but is more than that if you know the history and architecture of it. It is also the former Hôtel-Dieu of Mantes.  Let me update this post to tell you a bit more on it.


The city of Mantes-la-Jolie is located on the left bank of the Seine river , 57 km from Paris , 47 km from Versailles, and 85 km from Rouen. The museum of fine arts or musée Hôtel-Dieu is just a few steps from the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame, (see post) the Hotel-Dieu Museum is at the place de l’etape on the main street in town. Here it will allows you to discover the medieval past of the city as well as the works of the artist Maximilien Luce.


The Hôtel-Dieu was built in the 14C during the reign of king Charles V and heavily redeveloped during the 16-17C; it was an institution managed by the church. After various occupations, the building was acquired by the city of Mantes-la-Jolie in 1962. It has a beautiful 18C façade characterized by its Corinthian pilasters, its large rosette adorned with a winged angel’s head and its ornamentation. The Hôtel-Dieu Chapel became a Museum in 1996 and was name Museum of France or Musée de France in 2002.

The Hotel-Dieu Museum retains the largest collection dedicated to the artist Maximilien Luce in France. This post-Impressionist painter settled in the region, in Rolleboise, in 1917. He particularly illustrated the themes of the landscape in the Seine Valley, the activities on and off the banks of the Seine river, the industrial development as well as the working conditions of the time. Only museum of fine arts of the territory, it is on the road of impressionist painters, a few kilometers from Giverny, Pontoise and Paris and allows you to discover a great Neo-Impressionist painter.

After renovations, the Musée de L’Hôtel-Dieu in Mantes-la-Jolie reopened its doors last February 16, 2019 with a new scenography centered on the work of the Neo-Impressionist painter Maximilien Luce.  The collections presented on a permanent basis currently form two sets. Particularly from the depositories of the Notre Dame Collegiate Church and the Sainte-Anne of Gassicourt Church, a set of pieces dating from the medieval period, including sculpted elements, medieval lapidary works testify to the high quality of regional artistic production. The paintings and works on paper by the impressionist painter Maximilian Luce, composed of more than 150 works, from drawing to painting, through lithography and etching , illustrating the themes of the landscape in the Seine Valley, the nascent fluvial tourism, the industrial development and the condition of the man at work.



The museum’s new reserves, located in the heart of the Val Fourre District, are home to other treasures, from the collections from the three collectors ‘ museums, historical and documentary (Deschamps Collection), Scientific (Mesnil Museum) and Beaux-Arts (Duhamel Museum), having helped to forge, at the beginning of the 20C, the city’s heritage profile. Occasional presentations of these eclectic collections (sculptures, furniture, earthenware, art objects…), as well as a policy of pedagogical animation in the space of the reserves will allow to rediscover them.


And who was Maximilien Luce? Well a bit on him shall we..

Maximilien Luce, was born on March 13, 1858 and died on February 6, 1941 in Paris, a French painter. A libertarian activist, he produced many politically engaged illustrations. He is also an engraver, portraitist and poster artist. His first known painting dates from 1876. From 1885, and for fifteen years, he enrolled in the Neo-Impressionist movement: he uses the technique of divisionism (or pointillism), developed by Georges Seurat.

In September 1883, he was released from his obligatory military duties. As the invention of zincography significantly reduced the opportunities for wood engraving, Luce became a full-time painter. From 1884 to 1886, Luce made several stays in Lagny-sur-Marne, in the company of Émile-Gustave Cavallo-Péduzzi and Léo Gausson, whom he had known at the atelier of Eugène Froment. The two painters kept him informed of Seurat’s research. It was in Lagny-sur-Marne, in 1885, that Luce began to produce in a divisional manner. In the spring of 1887, the works of the neo-impressionists were first assembled at the independants exhibition. Luce exhibited seven divisionist paintings.

Luce was also a libertarian activist, his first political drawing appears in the modern life magazine. On 24 June,1894 the President of the French Republic Sadi Carnot was assassinated by the Italian anarchist Caserio. Suspected of complicity, especially because of his collaboration with father Peinard, Luce was arrested on 6 July. He’s incarcerated at Mazas prison. But it is too late to include it in the trial of the thirty, which takes place from 6 to 12 August. He was released on 17 August, for lack of serious evidence against him. In 1898 and 1899, during the Dreyfus affair, he supported Zola, then Colonel Picquart. He signed a petition, he produces dreyfusards drawings. At the beginning of the 20C, he definitively renounces the coloured dots that have earned the divisionists the nickname of pointillistes: his touches’stretches and softens, it comes to a more traditional billing, but which keeps the harmony and brightness of his first period.

From 1902 to 1912, he paints the big projects that remodel the face of Paris. He dedicates a dozen paintings to the bloody week which marked his childhood: Une rue de Paris en mai 1871 (1903-1905), Le 18 mars, place Pigalle (1906), Vive la Commune (vers 1910), Les Derniers Défenseurs de la Commune, le 28 mai 1871 (1915), L’Exécution de Varlin (1910-1917), La République et la Mort (no date) . In 1915 and 1916, he sought to show the social significance of the conflict (WWI) by painting the activity of the Parisian stations and the rear of the fighting. Far from the heroisation of patriotic propaganda, he testifies of the grey, ponderant and devoid of the shattered reality of war. In 1917, he discovered Rolleboise, on the banks of the Seine river. He bought a house in 1920 and shared it between this house and Paris where he leaves, the same year, the 16th arrondissement to settle 16 rue de Seine.

During the 1930’s , he was part of the Honorary Committee of the International League of Peace fighters, the most radical of pacifist organizations, whose motto was: “no to all wars!” In November 1934, he succeeded Paul Signac as President of the society of independent artists. At the end of the year, Luce resigned from the Presidency of the independent artists to protest against Vichy’s policy of discrimination against Jewish artists. He died in Paris on 7 February 1941. He was buried alongside his wife at the Rolleboise cemetery.

The town can be walk as the main things are just couple minutes away on foot! Easily a full day visiting all Collegiale church and museum as well as the tour Maclou. (see posts).


The city of Mantes la Jolie on the museum: http://www.manteslajolie.fr/MUSEE%20DE%20LHOTELDIEU

The Yvelines dept 78 tourist board on the museum: https://www.sortir-yvelines.fr/Art-et-culture/Art-et-culture-dans-les-Yvelines/musee-yvelines/musee-hotel-dieu-mantes-la-jolie

There you go again folks ,some marvels of my belle France in what can be describe as an off the beaten path monument that must be more than that and be visited. Hope you enjoy the Musée de l’Hôtel Dieu of Mantes la Jolie.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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