Gardens of the HOTEL BAUDY
Ancien Hôtel Baudy
81 rue Claude Monet
Phone & Fax : 33 (0)2 32 21 10 03
A walking in the rosery should not be missed.
Every one wanted a garden of their own, big or small, full of flowers.
Today the entire garden has retained this enchanting abandon
The countless varieties of ancient rose bushes,
The history of the Baudy family and American painters probably goes back to the summer of 1886. ( by Claire Joyces).
Lucien Baudy and his wife, Angélina (née Ledoyen), lived at the Ferme de la Côte, birthplace of the Ledoyen family. They bought a small house a little further down in the village, at the site of the future hotel, and Lucien became a traveling salesman for the manufacturer of sewing machines. Angélina , was what was called at the time a "maîtresse d’hôtel" and ran the family café/grocery store. Human memory changes past events so that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish truth from fantasy, in the inextricable jungle of things recalled. If only Madame Baudy had kept a journal ! ...
Painters had to decide where to go for the summer months when studios at the Beaux-Arts or the Académies were closed, and since the eyes never test, their vacations were little more than a new campaign for painting. But why did they choose Giverny ?… No one really knows. And why did they knock at the door of the Café Baudy in particular when at the time were four cafés in the village ? Monet stayed at one, near the train station and opposite the marshlands, before he could settle in his house. It was called "La Grenouillère" (Frog Pond), a name impossible to forget.
It is very likely that the first American painters who came to Giverny did not know that Monet lived there. Traditionally, the Hoschedé-Monet family claims that when Robinson was working at Barbizon around 1885, he was introduced to Monet by the French painter Deconchy, a mutual friend who owned a house at Gasny, four kilometers from Giverny. In 1886 Metcalf supposedly came by himself. Looking for a room, he approached Madame Baudy who, unaccustomed to foreigners, shut the door. Enchanted by the scenery and refusing to give up, Metcalf came back again with Breck, Taylor, Blair-Bruce and Wendel. Later, Sargent, who was already well-acquainted with Monet and who frequented the American circles in Paris, would have recommended Giverny, where he painted in 1887, to several of his comrades, such as Hart, Beckwith and Theodore Butler. Gossip in the studios at Paris accomplished the test.
Consequently, one day our American painters, taking the train that went to Vernon from the SaintLazare station, noticed the village with its church on the side of a hill and its wide meadows spread out between the Seine, the Epte and the Ru. From Vernon to Giverny the journey must have been delightful. A train crossed a bridge over the Seine - the bridge was destroyed during World War II and never rebuilt - reaching the opposite bank at Vernonnet very near the house where Bonnard would later live. It then followed the valley of the Epte River at the foot of hills covered with orchards, vineyards, and fields of grain.
Our painters easily found motifs ; accommodations, however, were less certain. They entered the Café Baudy, and this time Lucien and Angélina Baudy were persuaded. They found lodging for them with local families wherever possible and even gave up their own room. Metcalf stayed at the Ferme de la Côte, and Miss Baudy cooked for them. the Americans were delighted but clamored for an inn. Madame Baudy would later confide that encouraged by them and at the instigation of Robinson she decided to build the studio. They all convinced her she would be able to keep boarders the year round because of it.
Neither the Baudys nor their clients were rich, but the idea excited them. The studio was erected in 1887, the year when the guest register began. Then was born the hotel for painters, the true Hôtel Baudy. It was still modest in size, but its rapid success quickly necessitated modifications and additions. It grew little by little. In 1888 the outbuildings were added, and the essential part of the main building was built between 1888 and 1891. At that time, taxes were calculated according to the number of doors and windows in a building. In 1891 there were 30 plus a porte-cochère for carriages. Upstairs in the main house there were two studios.
Things happen quickly ; the first three years in the register are eloquent. Among the names listed are Robinson, Harrison, Breck, Dawson-Watson, Butler, Wendel, Hale, Lilla Cabot Perry, Hart, Rothenstein and Peixotto. There were painters, sculptors, art historians and travelers who came alone or with their families. Most often they came to paint for the entire season. The strong natural light of the valley, constantly transforming the landscape, was one of the most interesting attractions of Giverny. And the village itself was an inexhaustible source of subjects scenes of peasant life and of young girls simply taking walks, their faces barely hidden behind parasols. Even at the inn there were subjects everywhere, such as guests seated around tables under the trees, card players, linen maids, and Gaston himself behind the counter. Lucien and Angélina were assisted by their son Gaston and his wife Clarisse.
At the Hôtel Baudy, with its iron beds and cotton coverlets, there were no luxuries. The maids, scarcely trained but willing young girls from the country, carried water pitchers upstairs for the guests’ toilette, knocked on the doors and announced, "Warm water, Monsieur !" Oil lamps were used until 1902, then came gas. ’Me inn was well-kept, the food excellent, and the owners’ benevolence proverbial. Madame Baudy was good to her boarders even when they could not pay their bill. She often had to give them money for train fare -Dawson Watson was an example at the end of his last visit. They left paintings in lieu of money (car. 90, 92, 93, 94, 95).
Clearly this adventure fascinated the Baudys and, as extreme evidence of her dedication, Madame Baudy became an agent for the well-reputed company, Lefevre and Foinet. On her premises one could buy paint, canvas and brushes. New rites were introduced at the Hâtel Baudy, a village inn specializing in foreigners, particularly Americans. As temporary inhabitants of Giverny, young artists far away from home were treated like members of the family. Great care was bestowed upon the fragile Robinson, and Madame Baudy learned to make their favorite recipes. Christmas pudding was procured, and Thanksgiving was celebrated there just as it was in America.
Early on, Monet came to the hotel to visit his American friends. He welcomed the very first arrivals to his home (a photograph shows him in his garden with Madame Hoschedé’s daughters and in the company of Bruce, Taylor and Breck). However, he soon became alarmed at the growing number of artists in the village, especially since he had come to Giverny looking for tranquillity, and refused to entertain guests or – as always - to give lessons. His visits to the Hôtel Baudy became less frequent, then stopped altogether. Nevertheless, one of Cézanne’s hotel bills reveals that Monet did come to have a glass of whiskey with him. There were too many people, too much noise, and probably a generation problem.
He was glad that this children had friends like Rose or Metcalf, who was enthused about ornithology and collected birds’ eggs, but reluctantly he gave permission to skate with the Americans in the evening on the lantern-lit ice at the Marais. When Blanche Hoschedé, a painter, shared Breck’s enthusiasm for the subject and fell in love with him, Monet forced her to end the relationship. Soon afterward, the same situation developed between Suzanne Hoschedé and Theodore Butler.
Madame Hoschedé told Monet about the young couple’s intentions in March 1892, just after the house was purchased and one year before Monet’s famed lily pond was built. He was then working on his cathedrals at Rouen, and responded : “My dear friend, if you only knew how much your letter upset me ! Since this morning 1 have been able to think of nothing else ... It is highly unlikely that this young man would have dared to visit you unless Suzanne had responded to his advances. Furthermore, I find it strange that again things began to happen in my absence. This young man may be a good fellow, but what we know about his adventurous life and his situation is far from reassuring. ... Having said that, whether you act upon what 1 have said or not, it is impossible for me to remain any longer at Giverny. I want to sell the house right away. You know what 1 did about Breck and the other one, and you know what the result of it was - 1 don’t want to start all over again (March 10, 1892).“
Madame Lucien Baudy treated Watson, Robinson and Butler like her own children – they were about the same age as her son Gaston and friends of his. Thus she hastened to the couple’s rescue. She sent letters ; Beckwith obtained information from the United States, and Robinson reassured Monet and Madame Hoschedé. The marriage took place on july 20, 1892, with Philip Hale as witness. Robinson painted it (catalogue number 88) and noted in his journal on August 5 : "A dense fog early clearing off later, and commenced my "Wedding March," my model being the groom’s silk hat, lent me by Gaston. "
At the Hôtel Baudy, now the heart of a long and narrow village, one painted of course, but one also gave parties. Although the boarders were painters first, many of them were good writers, musicians and athletes. Far from feeling estranged, the villagers continued coming to the café so that painters and village knew each other, waved to each other, and drank together. This joyous activity rescued Giverny from a deep stupor. The walls in the dining room were inscribed and decorated by the boarders. Two paintings of dances, which were organized on Saturdays, inspire nostalgia : one by Metcalf, the other by Robert Chambers. The people of Giverny came to see the costumes when there were masked balls, to hear piano music or banjo playing, and to watch billiard championships.
In the park people played croquet. Soon Stanton Young started the tennis courts of the Hôtel Baudy, which attracted many spectators on the terrace. Despite this apparent frivolity, the boarders were capable of reasonable behavior and felt themselves sufficiently, a part of the village to take a position in 1904 against the destruction of the natural landscape. The issue \vas setting up a shooting range in the quarries between Giverny and the Bois-Gérôme. A petition circulated in the village signed by Monet, Alice Monet, Germaine and Albert Salerou, Mrs. Mac Monnies and, at the Hôtel Baudy, by Beaudoin, Hopkins, Van Buren, West, Whitman and Ethel Rose.
The Hôtel Baudy had boarders even during the winter, and the summer months filled it up. It could not absorb everyone and therefore had annexes of a sort. One of them, where Robinson, then Collins, Whitman and Radimsky lived, was called Madame Baudy’s "petite maison." Another "annex" located right next to Monet’s house and owned by cousins of the Baudys living at Le Havre, was rented to Lilla Cabot Perry. Then Frederick Mac Monnies built a studio there. It was later inhabited by Frieseke, and still later by Miss Wheeler and her students. Contrary to legend, there was no lake in the garden and Robinson never lived there. The house with a pond in the garden was called "le Vivier" (the fish pond) and would be used by Frieseke and Borgord. The painters of Giverny who stayed with the Baudys before finding the house or atelier of their dreams are numerous. And even when they lived elsewhere in the village they kept up the habit of eating all their meals with the Baudys or dined there from time to time.
In 1888, one year after the Guest Register was started and the atelier built, we find concurrently at the hotel, Breck, Dawson Watson, Wendel and Butler joined by Philip Hale. ’Me following year in 1889 Robinson left but Butler, Breck, Watson and Wendel were there when Lilla Cabot Perry arrived with her family to spend the summer. We find Peixotto, Watson and Robert Chambers as well as Dyce and Borgord with Philip Hale. We can imagine at leisure their conversations and cannot help thinking that it must have been a great day at the Baudys in November, 1894 when Mary Cassatt was in the dining room at the same time as Cézanne, whom she described marvelously in a letter to Mrs. Stillman.
At the death of Gaston Baudy in 1920, it was necessary to sell the hotel and it remained an inn until 1960 with médiocre success.
What is a studio without an artist ? What is a house if it is not loved and celebrated ? Its sign is still there and the heart of the Hôtel Baudy is to be taken.
These observations by Claire Joyces arc excerpts from a more extensive paper she is preparing for publication, and serve to introduce the Baudy family and many of the places designated on the accompanying map of Giverny.
To escape entanglement with untried foreign painters, Monet even considered giving up his newly purchased his newly purchased Giverny house and gardens and the projected water-garden, so important to his great series of Water-lilies, as Joyes points out in introducing the followng leters from the artist to Alice Hoschedé. Moner’s reconciliation with Butler, or at least initial resignation to the match, stayed his flight.
John L. Breck is one of the founders of the American colony at Giverny, and seems to have been the one most responsible for advertising the charms of the village and the new hotel Baudy. This would have been reason enough for Monet to intervene when he discovered a romance between Breck and one of his step-daughters.
In 1891 Beckwith did Breck’s portrait, when Theodore Butler did the little portrait of Suzanne Hoschedé, another Monet stepdaughter. Like Wendel, Breck had training in Munich before coming to France and the atelier of Boulanger and Lefebvre at Julian’s. Born at sea near Hong Kong to a Boston family, he studied briefly in Leipzig and three years in Munich and Antwerp before going to Paris.
With Wendel, Robinson, Metcalf and Butler he went to Giverny in 1887 and remained until 1891, during which time he painted the little winter view of the village and the interior of the hotel café with Gaston Baudy as bartender, paintings still belonging to the Baudy family.
The walls depicted would soon be full of just such souvenirs as this. His romance terminated firmly by Monet, Breck went to California in 1891 before returning to Boston, where he died at the age of thirty-nine.
( by Claire Joyces).