Louis Mantin was an aesthete and gentleman of leisure who bequeathed his opulent home to the town of Moulins on condition that a century later it be a museum.19th Century aesthete and gentleman of leisure Louis Mantin willed his mansion--complete with a private museum of art, archaeological and natural historical specimens--to the people of Moulins, to be opened as a museum 100 years after his death. Now, 106 years after his death in 1905--and after a 3.5m euro refit funded by local authorities--the home of this real life Des Esseintes been returned to its original pristine state and is, per Monsieur Mantin's wishes, open to the public.
After he died in 1905, the mansion was closed up and fell into dilapidation. Now...it has been returned to its original pristine state.
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.
"In the will," explains Maud Leyoudec, assistant curator of the collection, Mantin "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. A bachelor with no children, he was obsessed with death and the passage of time. It was his way of becoming eternal."
Text, video and story from yesterday's BBC. Click here to read the full story and take a video tour. You can find out more (if you read French!) here.
Via Eleanor Crook and Chantal Pollier.