• Stephanie Brown

63. Tour de Marie Henry


The Beach at Kerfany. Postcard, about 1900.


We are taking the Marie Henry tour of Finistère; it’s challenging because we have to devise it based on our own research. There are streets and roundabouts and town squares named for Gauguin and all his circle (well, all except the elusive Louis Roy), but nary an alley named for the innkeeper at Le Pouldu. If you didn’t know, you wouldn’t know. When Gauguin and de Haan left the buvette in the fall of 1890, they left their paintings in her care. We don’t know why, exactly: maybe they didn’t have another place to store them. Maybe Marie agreed to keep them in place of outstanding rent. Maybe they thought they would come back sooner than they did. There’s a longer story here that will have to wait for another day. What matters for now is that she became the guardian and the keeper not only of the work that Gauguin and de Haan had created in that fevered year, but of the works other artists had given them as well.


Marie Henry kept those works for decades, across multiple moves. She left Le Pouldu in 1893. Her companion then, and for nearly the rest of their lives, was Henri Mothéré, a comfortably off man from an educated family. Together, they built a house that overlooked a cove a few miles up the coast from Le Pouldu, in an area known as Kerfany-les-Pins. They lived there until 1924. . with Marie Henry's collection of over 100 works—paintings, carvings, engravings. She and Mothéré entertained everyone from Marie Curie to the dressmaker Paul Poiret to artist friends like Paul Sérusier and Charles Filiger from the Le Pouldu days. André Jolly, a local self-taught painter, came for lunch and wrote to a frien=.”


Yesterday, we found the house. Here's the evidence.


The beach at Kerfany, with mature pine trees.


A sign suggesting that we take this path.



The fig tree and approach to the house.


The house. Shutters closed--no one's home.









The terrace.












The view from the terrace.


Pas mal, as they say.

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