Due to a private event, if you are visiting Waddesdon between 17-24 Aug, there will be some disruption in the gardens on the North & South Fronts, Parterre & Aviary. Ticket holders will be contacted directly.

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Gustave Moreau: The Fables online exhibition

The Cobbler and the Financier, 1882

A cobbler used to sing all day, happy while he worked. This broke the troubled sleep of his financier neighbour, who gave him a hundred crowns, which the cobbler buried under the floor of his hovel. Anxiety about its security destroyed his rest and stopped him singing. This allowed the financier to sleep but, in the end, the cobbler returned the money because he wanted to be able to sleep and sing again.

Moreau’s cobbler is accompanied by a blackbird in a cage (not mentioned in La Fontaine); the financier in his gilded room is glimpsed in the window behind. Moreau emphasized the regularity of the financier’s house by articulating its architecture with straight lines in white gouache. Moreau described this work as ‘a scene of mud and rain in old Paris.’ The city of narrow streets, heterogeneous architecture and bad sanitation was mourned by many contemporaries as it was swept away by Haussmann’s remodelling of the city in the 1850s and 1860s. In this watercolour, old cobblestones are piled up beside the cobbler’s shack and a dog urinates on a guard-stone.