Have you ever been so taken aback by something so stunning that all you can do is stand there awestruck? Raymond Isidore’s mosaic art-covered cottage is one of those awe-inspiring thing, but his story is even more inspiring.
How Raymond Isidore Became an Artist
Born in 1900 to a modest family in the city of Chartres, France, Raymond Isidore did not grow up desiring to become an artist. Early in his career, Isidore worked as a molder but some health problems forced him to switch professions.
Some of you might find it creepy, but Isidore found work at the local cemetery as a sweeper. During this time, he married a woman about ten years older than him and bought a humble piece of land outside the city center. There, the sweeper began building what started out as a cozy cottage and soon transformed into a tourist attraction that still stands today.
One day in 1938, Raymond Isidore stumbled upon a small pile of crockery which he took home strictly because they caught his eye.
“I picked them up without any specific intention, for their colors and their flicker. I sorted the good, [discarded] the bad. I piled them up in a corner of my garden.”
“What people disdain and reject in quarries and dumps can still serve,” he believed.
Raymond Isidore continued to keep an eye open – he even sought them out! – for more of the beautiful fragments. Then, one night, Isidore had a dream wherein a middle-aged man encouraged him to transform his growing pile of fragments into something new.
“The night dictated what I had to do. I saw my motive before me as if it really existed… Pieces of porcelain or faience were within reach, ready to use.”
The Birth of La Maison de Picassiette
Using his collection of multicolored ceramic pieces, Raymond Isidore started by covering the interior walls of his home with intricate nature-inspired patterns. Once his walls were complete, he filled his ceilings, floors, kitchen, and bedroom with colorful collages of flowers, birds, fauna, and vistas.
“I, who have never known how to draw in my life, I do not understand how, yet I arrived at such a result.”
After filling every corner and object in his own home, he built more structures to transform into mosaic art such as a chapel, a throne, and an enclosure wall.
In interviews, he would wait for dreams to give him the patterns, people, and buildings he would eventually make tangible for everyone to see.
Despite his home’s unique beauty, many of his neighbors started calling him Picassiette which stems from “pique” (meaning to steal) and “assiette” (meaning plate). Over the decades, he didn’t let the teasing stop his creativity. In December 1960, Popular Mechanics visited Isidore to write a story about the “Mosaic House.” Six years earlier, Pablo Picasso even visited Isidore’s house of art.
While some people may just chalk him up to a cemetery caretaker, there is no doubting that Raymond Isidore created something truly extraordinary in three short decades. After passing away in 1964, his wife continued to live in La Maison de Picassiette until 1979, when France honored it as a national Historical Monument.
One Man’s Junk Is Another Man’s Treasure
And, if anyone has proven that age-old saying, it’s Raymond Isidore. Just look at the pictures below…