A European walk through Bordeaux 19
The Gesù of Bordeaux.
Eglise Notre-Dame - 1 Rue Mably.
Oskar Kokoschka (1886 -1980), L'ÉGLISE NOTRE-DAME (1925) , Musée des Beaux-arts de Bordeaux
Built in a baroque style in the late 17th century, work on the construction of the church of the Jacobins, or Saint Dominic (which became “Notre Dame” under the Concordat), began from 1684 on land that the Jacobins had recently acquired. Wanting to use the Church of the Gesù in Rome as a source of inspiration, both externally and internally, it was considered to mark the apogee of baroque religious art in Bordeaux. To avoid competition with the récollet convent, then contiguous, the Dominicans had to undertake to open the building to the east, which was not the usual orientation of a church. The construction was completed in 1707, which is the date inscribed on the keystone of the edifice. The exterior seems closer to the Sicilian baroque style of the churches of Noto, rebuilt in the same period as Vignola’ works, completed or reworked by Giacomo della Porta, for the Roman Gesù, a century earlier.
Once the church had been built, an organ was transported from the former chapel of the Dominicans, built by the English organ builder Jehan Haon (or Hew), active in France in the 17th and early 18th centuries. It is this English organ that rang out, on Sunday 22 June 1777, for Emperor Joseph II of Austria during his stay in Bordeaux. Although the chapter of Saint-Seurin had offered to say Mass at a time that suited him, he declined the invitation and said “that he would go to hear it at the first church he came across, and was at the Jacobins’ shortly afterwards...” After this, the organ was replaced by one commissioned from the German builder Godefroy Schmidt in 1785.
Fifty years later, on 17 April 1828 at 10 a.m., it was a German organ that echoed under the vault to celebrate Goya’s funeral. The celebration, however, was entirely Spanish. All the Spaniards of Bordeaux had gathered at the church to pay their final respects to their immortal painter. All the Spanish refugees, all the artists of Bordeaux attended Notre Dame, enclosed in their grief behind the gates of the master ironsmith Moreau, who had worked in the cathedral of Madrid. Pio de Molina, Bernardino Amati, Braulio Poc and Antonio de Brugada were the pallbearers, while Gumersinda Goicoechea and Mariano led the funeral procession from Place du Chapelet to the Chartreuse.
When, in spring 1925, the Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) came to Bordeaux, this conscious or unconscious baroque heir painted just two monuments. One is, as we know, the (inverted) perspective of the Grand Théâtre and of Cours du Chapeau Rouge. But it is the other that this precursor of Viennese expressionism – whose works are not without cause displayed in the Upper Belvedere, the temple of Austrian baroque art – completed the fastest: the Church of Notre Dame, which the emperor of Austria preferred, no doubt for reasons of proximity, one hundred and fifty years earlier to the solemnities of Saint-Seurin… …
L'église Notre Dame de Bordeaux.
L'église San Nicolo à Noto (Sicile)