In memory of Michel Curdles
40 Masterpieces from the Park’s Churches.
Introduction to the Project.
I was like a child in a toyshop who’d been told by a generous relative to choose what he wanted. I did just that and now these 40 masterpieces are waiting for you.
The challenge was to make their discovery accessible to all regardless of their knowledge of art, cultural background or age. A leaflet was specially prepared to give people the desire to discover this other world. The text is not available on this site
How to be inspired by the works of art of the Champagne school?
I had the idea to make them speak, as if they were welcoming us.
Pierre Leroy from the Collège de France, to whom I entrusted this task in the name of the Regional Nature Park, told me: "You’re completely mad but we’ll have a try ". We would meet for long discussions in front of each of the chosen works. They were mostly unknown to the public. We have exchanged ideas, factual information and fertile comparisons for at least 15 years. This long dialogue has had only one subject. What was the specificity of Southern Champagne in the C16th? It does not seem to have followed the remainder of the kingdom and the marvellous works of art created here reflect this. Pierre Leroy is a historian of culture and religion; I’m an economic historian. Pierre, a very good writer, was the author of most of the texts. He managed to produce a more than admirable synthesis in a short space.
Michel That had the important task of photographing each work as well as preparing Pierre Leroy’s texts for publication.
My madness was contagious and was caught by people working for the services of the Region and the State. Marie-Catherine Massé, from the Office Culturel de Champagne-Ardenne (Région Chamapgne-Ardenne) was the first to support the project. She was very quickly joined by Frederic Murienne Regional Conservation Officer for the Monuments Historique in Champagne-Ardenne (DRAC) and Michel Caille, Inspector for the Monuments Historiques in Champagne-Ardenne (DRAC), who sadly didn’t live to see the project he was involved in completed.
The State and the Region financed this trail and with the help of the Conseil Général of the Aube, enabled the restoration of these works to begin.
Our visits to the churches had a holiday atmosphere. We would seek out good places to eat where we could discuss our latest finds. Genevieve Breq-Bautier came to join our band and the Louvre kindly aided us.
We wanted the public to have all the necessary information when they entered our country churches. Panels were needed to provide general details and to give a minimum of architectural detail.
Our churches had to speak to their visitors. The services of the Park were specially reinforced for the task of surveying these religious buildings.
Jean-Marc Marande drew new plans if the originals were missing in the records of the Department of Architecture. He worked in all kinds of weather and made many very interesting new discoveries.
The President of the Park, Etienne Copel, was also another of the project’s supporters. One day in the H.Q. he called out to me,"Michon what are you doing? I’ve invited my friends to go cycling and it’s raining! I want you to take them in the churches. I haven’t any documentation so sort it out! ". He was the first to understand the interest and the pleasure of this kind of visit.
When you visit the churches here you’ll find that there’s a descriptive panel in front of each church. Push open the door and you will discover a masterpiece. Information about them is included here. Feast your eyes and enrich your mind with our immortal treasures!
The Fôret d’Orient Regional Nature Park