Moulins, France: a small town near Remulac When wealthy French bachelor Louis Mantin demanded that nobody touch his lavish mansion for 100 years after his death, even the occupying German army paid heed.
The eccentric recluse, who died in 1905, wrote in his will that he wanted Maison Mantin, in Moulins, Central France, to be turned into a museum dedicated to himself and his gentlemanly lifestyle.
His vision was for visitors to experience his world a century on, uncorrupted by the passing of time. In doing so he ensured he was not forgotten.
Mantin made his fortune in land and property but died unmarried and childless aged just 54 - eight years after construction of the opulent home was completed. It had been built on the ruins of a 15th-century castle that had belonged to the Bourbon family who were later to become French royalty. But what he had constructed incorporated the lastest technology including electricty, a flushing toilet and a cupboard which warmed towels in preparation for when you stepped out of the shower. [ and a bathtub. Remember, this is France we’re talking about!!! ]
As a gentleman with money he was able to indulge in his interests such as art, natural history and archaeology. A mini museum within the building housed Monsieur Mantin’s collection. On his death its doors remained closed and rats and insects were given free reign within its dusty corridors and vast rooms.
But now thanks to a £2.9million refurbishment funded by local authorities, the mansion has been returned to its former glory.
The result is a remarkable time-capsule, combining rich fin-de-siecle furnishings, archaeological curios, skulls and other Masonic paraphernalia, a collection of stuffed birds, as well as the latest domestic gadgets such as electricity and a flushing loo.
Born in Moulins in 1851, Mantin had an undistinguished career as a civil servant, but at the age of 42, he inherited a fortune from his father and thenceforth dedicated his life to pleasure, science and the arts.
First of all he had his mansion constructed in the centre of Moulins on the site of a former palace of the dukes of Bourbon, the local rulers who were heirs to the French and Spanish royal houses.
Then he decorated the house with imported tapestries, paintings and porcelain. He commissioned sculptures and wood-carvings, and on the top floor installed his personal museum of Egyptian relics, Neolithic oil-lamps, prehistoric flints and medieval locks and keys.
Outside of Maison Mantin The house was gradually forgotten by the world, but not by locals
Mantin only had a few years to indulge his aesthetic fantasies. Knowing that his death was approaching, he made a will in which he made sure his treasured house would be saved. “In the will, he says that he wants the people of Moulins in 100 years time to be able to see what was the life of a cultured gentleman of his day,” said assistant curator Maud Leyoudec. “A bachelor with no children, he was obsessed with death and the passage of time. It was his way of becoming eternal.”
Yes, it really does have a bathtub. With a shower! And a flush toilet! And heated towels! And stuffed frogs, fencing under glass! And a special room done up in pink for his secret mistress!
And of course, to go along with French architecture, for an A&R post we need pretty French redheads. And they are damn hard to find!!
How hard? So hard in fact that the above very fwench looking model is actually Russian. Irina Tkachova. Looks French. Works in France. Even has “the touch of the bunny” whatever the hell that means:
“le coup du lapin”; a touch of bunny, oui? I know, you can tell from the “ears” in her ribbon. Check out the extra eyeball on top of her head. Très à la mode, oui? Non?
Ratz. How about this one ... who ain’t even a redhead this week:
Looks French to me. Great hair, chopped off. Fashion! Pretty, in an “I haven’t eaten this year” kind of way. Even has les oreilles de Mickey le grande souris. The only way she could seem more French would be to do an ad-lib Jerry Lewis routine. Non? Non! She’s also Russian. And this pic is from when she was fat.
Fine. Will this one do?
You like? I like. Yes indeedy. Very wholesome. Country simple. Provencal! Except ... this is Lily Cole, and she’s English. Totally not french. I’m quite certain of that.
So if you want the real thing, find her yourself, and send me the links. I give up.
And whaddya mean, that “le coup de lapin” means whiplash? It says right rabbit the heck there. The. Touch. Of the. Rabbit. Da bun-nay rabbit. Which is NOT for dinner, so put your forks down ya damn froggies.
Typical - read the article - one paragraph says he made money in land - later it says he was a civil servant who inherited his father’s fortune. And then set about wasting it on his own pleasures. Typical.
Interesting to look at - but I’ve seen so many castles, museums and such - they all begin to blend into the same thing.
The model looks like she’s 12 - I must be getting old.
12 is a lot more mature than it used to be, especially in France. Or Russia.