Raymond Isidore, La Maison de Picassiette
17-23 Rue du Repos, Chartres, Centre, 28000, France
La Maison de Picassiette was honored with national Historical Monument status and remains open to the public as a museum.
About the Artist/Site
Raymond Isidore was born into a family of modest means in the city of Chartres, France. As a young man he had a job as a molder, but because of health problems, he became a sweeper at the local cemetery. In 1929 he purchased a small plot of land outside the city center, and there built a small single-storey house for his family.
One day in 1938, when he was out taking a walk, Isidore found some pieces of crockery that drew his attention. He took them home—and began a mosaic project that would continue for almost thirty years.
For the first seven years Isidore decorated the interior of his house, covering every surface in broken crockery and glass, including the walls, floors, ceilings, and all of the furniture. In 1945, he began work on the exterior, building a chapel, a throne, and an enclosure wall—all of which he also decorated. His designs include representations of Christian symbols and characters, animals, a view of Jerusalem, and illustrations of various cathedrals, including the famed cathedral of Chartres, located across the hill from his property. In interviews, Isidore explained he saw in dreams the patterns, persons, and buildings he would later depict in mosaic.
Isidore gathered the materials he needed for his mosaics from garbage dumps. Townspeople began to call him “Picassiette,” likely a twist on pique-assiette (scavenger) and also a witty reference to Picasso and assiette (plate).
The 1950s brought increased interest in Isidore’s work. Picasso himself visited in 1954. Writers and photographers came to interview him and to photograph La Maison. In these conversations Isidore would say that notwithstanding his lowly position as a graveyard sweeper, he knew he had done something extraordinary.
After Isidore’s death, his wife continued to live in the decorated house until 1979. In 1981 the city of Chartres took ownership. Two years later, La Maison de Picassiette was honored with national Historical Monument status and remains open to the public as a museum.
~Henk van Es
Map & Site Information
17-23 Rue du Repos
Chartres, Centre, 28000 fr
Latitude/Longitude: 48.4419542 / 1.5060585
Pithiviers, Centre-Val de Loire