THE FINE ARTS AND LACE MUSEUM
This visit is a must-do in Alençon! Occupying one of the old Jesuit school buildings since 1857, this museum houses a beautiful collection of works split between three sections: Lace, Cambodian Art and the Fine Arts.
Among other items, it showcases a rare and exceptional piece: a wedding veil dating from the 19th century. Measuring 3.5 metres in length and 2 metres in width, the veil is made entirely of Alençon needlepoint lace.
It is estimated that it took between 350,000 and 500,000 hours to make, the equivalent of a whole year’s work
for about a hundred lacemakers.
The lace exhibition rooms cover 350 years of the history of Alençon lace, while some contemporary
creations also reflect how this world-unique craftsmanship has evolved over time.
The museum’s Fine Arts’ section invites you on a journey back to the era of the French, Italian and Nordic schools, from the 15th to the 20th century, where you’ll find the magnificent works of Giovanni Massone, Jean Restout, Philippe de Champaigne, Jusepe de Ribera, Charles Landon, Henri Fantin-Latour, Gustave Courbet and
Eugène Boudin. Your walkabout ends with a spotlight on the born-and-bred or adopted artists of Orne,
as well as painters from the school of Saint-Céneri. The graphic arts cabinet displays some remarkable pieces of great value and rarity, dating from the 15th to 20th century.
This was largely constituted from donations by the Marquis of Chennevières-Pointel, the museum’s leading donor, and Horace His de La Salle. Hence, the museum conserves works by the likes of Watteau, Coypel, La Fosse, Verdier and other masters, as well as by regional and Norman artists such as Léandre and Monanteuil.
As for the sculpture section, this was launched in 1873 when the museum received donations from the studio of Victor Le Harivel-Durocher of Orne, including most of his original plaster works.
Adhémard Leclère was born in Alençon in 1853. Having worked for several years in journalism and publishing,
in 1886 he left for Indochina to take up a position in the French administration.
For 25 years, he gathered valuable archaeological and ethnographical evidence, Buddhist and animist cult objects and more than 500 photographs, while never ceasing to write about life in colonial Indochina and, more specifically, Cambodia. On his return to Alençon in 1911, he decided to donate his substantial collection to the museum.
This now features among the collections that constitute a benchmark for the study of Khmer culture.