14 June 2010

François Mauriac and Bordeaux, Gironde (33), France

As this plaque clearly states, François Mauriac (1885-1970) was born in this house, 86 rue du pas St Georges, in the center of Bordeaux.

In Préséances (1921), Mauriac was quite clear about what he saw as the ugliness of Bordeaux women: 'les bordelaises sont laides comme des gouvernantes anglaises'. His mother pointed out that that statement ensured that he would never have a public monument in Bordeaux, although of course she was wrong. This sculpture was erected in the Jardin Public in Bordeaux on the 100th aniversary of Mauriac's birth. But it has not remained there without problems, and in March 1993 the modernist bust (actually a copy of the original) was stolen. It was assumed that the bust would never again see the light of day, although the police received a tip-off in January 1995, and as a result found it in a parcel in a disused warehouse in Bordeaux.

At the back of the bust is the signature of the sculptor Ossip Zadkine, a Russian exiled in the USA when he made the work in 1943. He said that a cure for his homesickness was involving himself in his passions.

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