Thursday, May 3, 2012

The French Connection - Lichier Richier

Family connections based on nothing more than a name are tenuous. This one between my great great French grandmother Anne Marie Richier and 16th century French sculptor Lichier Richier certainly falls in that category.

My connection to Lichier Richier is based on a name, a location, and an avocation. It is also based on my love of art, something passed down to me by my mother's French relatives, who like my mother, loved to paint in oils, even if it was only for their own amusement. My avocation is to create.

My great great French grandmother was Anne Marie Richier. She married Paul Constant Chevallier in 1847 in the tiny French village of Graffigny-Chemin. The village is now officially located in the region of Haut-Marne in eastern France, but in ancient times it was in the province of Lorraine. The village is a scant 25 miles south of Domremy, the birthplace of Jeane d'Arc, the patron saint of France. It is another hour to the town of St. Mihiel, famous for its battle during the First World War and work place to Lichier Richier in the 16th century. In World War I, the area was the battle line between the Axis and the Allies, between the Germans and the French, British, and Americans. It is because of that fact that my grandfather, an American soldier met and fell in love with a young French girl.

Anne Marie Richier was the daughter of Jean Thomas Richier, proprietaier rentier, and Jeane Morel. Anne was 18 years old at the time of her marriage. That tells me she was born in 1829. That is all I know for now.

The connection with Lichier Richier is admittedly stretched to its limits. Ligier Richier was the greatest sculptor in Lorraine during the Renaissance. Born around 1500, he lived in and around the town of Saint Mihiel. In 1530, he came under the protection of Duke Antoine of Lorraine, who commissioned many of his works. Ligier Richier preferred pale, soft limestone with its fine grain and few veins. This stone was extracted at Saint Mihiel and nearby Sorcy and possessed a marble-like appearance. His many works include, among others: Memorial to the Heart of René de Chalon, the Skeleton, the Pieta, Holy Woman in a Bonnet, Le Sépulcre, and the Virgin or the Lady of Génicourt. Meuse Emotions.

Le Sépulcre

Image is a section from Le Sépulcre, found in the Eglise Saint-Etienne in Saint Mihiel. Meuse Emotions.

In 1560, Lichier Richier, along with others, petitioned the Duke of Lorraine for permission to practice  in the Reformed Faith. The petition was unsuccessful, causing him to finish his days in Geneva, the city of Calvin, in 1566 or 1567.

He was, I think, like the Cranky Old Man, a man who liked to think for himself.

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