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  • Writer's pictureWayne Sleeth

Projet 57 ( La Moselle ) Prelude to a Journey

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Stage 1 : La Seille

The meandering idea l once had of following in JMW Turner's footsteps here in the east of France almost 200 years ago, drawing and painting along the way, was long in gestation. When l first moved to France in 2000-2001, l was based in Dieuze, on a major contributary ( the Seille ) of the Moselle, but didn't know where it ( would ) lead...

I made a few sketches of the Val de Seille, through Marsal to Château-Salins where l now live, and moved on artistically to other challenges - Metz Cathedral, and Giverny in Normandy, inspired as l still am by Claude Monet.

Almost 20 years later - delayed as well by the covid pandemic - l was better prepared and equiped to follow parts of the Moselle from the Vosges to the Rhine. And l was approaching my 57th birthday, a symbolic number, 57 being the number and postcode for the 'département' or county that is the Moselle. Time was even more of the essence. Other engagements meant that l could not work as Turner did in 1824, travelling the Moselle river in one long summer, but rather in multiple short 'trajets', day-trips or weekends. Back to base in the studio, l would paint canvases, but the drawings and watercolours were worked in situ, 'en plein air'.

Here is a kind of retrospective of the first steps, a prélude to a journey hundreds of kms long, taken at the time in the Saulnois, county where the Seille cuts up to Metz, almost parallel to the Moselle itself, and where l jumped ship finally to embark on a much wider, deeper project : the Moselle river.

Vue de Marsal depuis Dieuze, plaine de la Seille

Haystacks near the Seille at Marsal

Oil on canvas, 18 x 13 cm

Vic sur Seille vue depuis Moyenvic

La Seille devant Marsal, vue depuis les Hauts de St.Jean

Brin-sur-Seille , watercolour

Ruines de Château de Nomeny


More recently, l rejoined the Seille tributary near Metz, arriving south of the capital

city of the Moselle - and the Lorraine region - via Magny.

Stage by stage, l would document the course of the river Moselle, through the historic heart of Metz, and on into Luxembourg and Germany.

Disclaimer : this is still an ongoing project. It will terminate - à priori - at Dieulouard in november 2024, where l will be invité d'honneur at the annual Salon des Arts de Dieulouard.

A suivre ! To be continued !

*Header photo / en tête : vintage carte postale Nancienne de la Petite Seille, cadeau de la collection de M. André Fisch, Château-Salins .

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