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17 and 18 September 2022Passed
September 2022
Saturday 17
11:00 - 12:00
15:00 - 16:00
Sunday 18
11:00 - 12:00
15:00 - 16:00
Accessible to the motor impaired

Musée Opale Sud

60 rue de l'Impératrice
  • Pas-de-Calais
  • Hauts-de-France

Guided tour "Emblematic details of the Bellon archaeological collection"

Emblematic details of the Bellon collection in the archaeological collections of the South Opal Museum
17 and 18 September 2022Passed
© Musée Opale Sud, Berck-sur-Mer

The Bellon Collection

In the 1870s, Louis-Gabriel Bellon (1819 – 1899) invested the profits from the lucrative linen and clothing trade, which he reluctantly practised in Rouen, with his brother-in-law, in the constitution of what became the most important collection of antiques in France at the end of the 19th century. Like most of the great collectors of his time, Bellon was fascinated by classical antiquity and his Tanagra statuettes were then presented at major exhibitions and published in the accompanying catalogues. His son Paul (1844 – 1928) reorganized the family property in Saint-Nicolas-les-Arras into a real private museum that adds to the three rooms on the second floor where there are also paintings by his friend Corot and his students, a gallery of 12, 75 m long for 5, 70 m wide, entirely dedicated to antiques. In October 1914 and early 1915, the Bellon property where the staff of a regiment of Zouaves were housed was under German bombs. Only part of the collection can be saved while thousands of objects are irremediably destroyed, as well as part of the documentation relating to their origin. It is also a part of the archaeological memory of northern France that is disappearing. Louis-Gabriel Bellon, archaeologist The discovery of several necropolis, a few hundred meters from his house, allows Bellon to taste the emotions of discovery in the company of Auguste Terninck, famous pioneer of regional archaeology which records the results of their research in the pages of the underground Artois. From 1875 to 1879, they explored a group of burials dating from the beginnings of Romanization, including four aristocratic tombs where imported furniture, rare in the region, illustrates the adoption of the funeral rituals of the elite in the Mediterranean world. The main element of the beverage service is a bronze oenochoe from a workshop in Campania, the most luxurious example of this. Bellon’s concern for accuracy in observing and recording the context from which the objects came was very innovative at the time. For the Merovingian burials of Saint-Nicolas and Sainte-Catherine, he places each find on standard sheets where their position in relation to the skeleton is conscientiously postponed. Interest in the museum’s collections The Opale-Sud museum permanently presents collections of regional archaeology where the Gallo-Roman funeral ensembles (necropolis of Frethun and Marenla) and Merovingians (La Calotterie, Frethun, Offin, Bloville) hold a substantial place. The loan of 37 objects to the exhibition "Rome and the Barbarians" of the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, as well as the recent participation in the exhibition built around the aristocratic burials of Saint-Dizier illustrate the quality of these collections. The opportunity to strengthen this sector through the purchase of a set from the richest collection of French antiques of the late nineteenth century is all the more interesting as the attested origin of almost all the objects concerned by this acquisition project refers to regional funerary contexts of late antiquity. The Bellon collection is the last of its kind that has escaped exhaustive dispersal for more than a century in the north of France. Famous in its time for the quality of its Greek vases and Tanagra of which Gabriel Bellon had been one of the first collectors, it left a large place for national antiques and those of Pas-de-Calais in particular. Bellon supplied himself from the most prolific sites of the 1870s - Amiens and Boulogne in particular - and had set up a network of correspondents informing him of incidental discoveries likely to interest him. Under the guidance of Auguste Terninck, he had been introduced to the field and had himself carried out excavations in the vicinity of his property in Saint-Nicolas-les-Arras, as long as his health had permitted it. His scrupulous records were innovative enough to be given as an example by his peers.

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Visite commentée / Conférence
Thème 2022
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About the location

Musée Opale Sud
60 rue de l'Impératrice
  • Pas-de-Calais
  • Hauts-de-France