Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ideal Palace (France)

Ferdinand Cheval was a French postman who spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") in Hauterives. The Palace is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture. 

Origins

Ferdinand Cheval lived in Châteauneuf-de-Galaure, in the Drôme département of France. He had left school at the age of 13 to become a baker's apprentice, but eventually became a postman.

Palais idéal

Cheval began the building in April 1879. He claimed that he had tripped on a stone and was inspired by its shape. He returned to the same spot the next day and started collecting stones. For the next thirty-three years, Cheval picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build the Palais idéal. He spent the first twenty years building the outer walls. At first, he carried the stones in his pockets, then switched to a basket. Eventually, he used a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp. The Palais is a mix of different styles with inspirations from Christianity to Hinduism. Cheval bound the stones together with lime, mortar and cement.

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