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 .