Sunday, July 22, 2007

The modest little house of Jacques Coeur in Bourges

Jacques Coeur was a 15th century merchant/financier with big social ambitions.
And a taste for fancy architecture.
I can't fault him his love of Gothic frills. It was quite an experience to tour the house, and wonder what it must have looked like with all the furniture and tapestry and plate, back in the day.
But the modesty of the man!
You'd think that the facade of the house would be quite grand enough for him (this is only a fraction of the street view):

But no, he had to have his portrait carved on the facade, looking out a "window' at the street below.
The scallop shell beneath him on the window frame is a pun on his name, Jacques (James, in English: the shrine of St. James in Spain-- Santiago de Compostella-- has as its pilgrim badge a scallop shell.)

In addition to scallop shells, M. Coeur also liked hearts (for obvious reasons.)
This is his religious little in-house chapel, with a lovely big niche for his chair just to the side of the altar... and hearts and his motto painted over and over again, all over the walls.

Alas, his love of display led to his downfall.
The king saw his house and wanted it, and found an excuse to bring him down.
I missed the details (I was looking at the architecture, not listening carefully to the French tour guide) but I want to look them up some time.
It's a Really Interesting place to visit, if you ever visit Bourges.

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