Not so long ago I blogged about our visit to Fresselines, where the well named moaning impressionist Monet hung out from time to time. And whined mainly.

Another, less whingey artist who spent time there was Léon Détroy. There’s a plaque to prove it.

fress leon detroy

Léon who you’re probably saying? Léon Détroy is not as well known as many of his contemporaries, largely because he retained artistic independence and didn’t jump onto any of the various band wagons. It was said of him, “He belongs to no master, to no school”. He painted how he wanted to paint. At times there’s a very Van Gogh element to his work and at other times he’s distinctly impressionistic.

He was born in 1857 in Chinon and came from a family of winegrowers and doctors. The artistic influence came from an uncle who was an archeologist and art collector.


Léon headed off to Paris to study art when he was 20 but soon got fed up with being taught and went off to paint from nature instead. He did copies of other artists’ works and when he was in Amsterdam to copy a Rembrandt painting for someone, he happened to read a novel by our local nineteenth century bohemian celebrity and novelist, George Sand (the pen name of Amatine Lucile Aurore Dupin). This novel was Promenade Autour d’un Village and was based around Gargilesse, a Gallo-Roman village in Indre. Détroy whizzed off there like a shot, captivated by the description of the wonderful countryside there. He fell in love with the place and did lots of painting there and at Fresselines and at Crozant. He did lots of landscapes and quite a lot of still lifes too. (Rors has just been doing about nature mort at school and producing his own example.)

still lifesmall

He carried on painting for most of his 98 years but enjoyed his greatest success after he died, as seems to so often be the case with artists.

So, now you know who Léon Détroy is.