Esprit Calvet, the inquisitive surgeon and his museum

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The courtyard - ©niall62 / CC-BY-SA The courtyard - ©niall62 / CC-BY-SA
Calvet museum Museum

The Fine Arts museum

This museum opened in 1833 in Villeneuve-Marignan townhouse, raised between 1740 and 1750 by Jean-Baptiste and François Franque.

Inside, we can see Flemish paintings, Medieval and Renaissance arts, Spanish gold work, French paintings from the 16th to the 20th century: Géricault, Corot, Vigée-Lebrun, Corneille de Lyon, Le Nain, Parrocel, Vernet, Hubert Robert, Chassériau, Soutine...

From the old city house, we still can see beautiful rooms: the entrance hall, the staircase and the méridienne: a small room made for rest, with 18th century panelling, overlooking the quiet garden...

The museum was founded by Esprit Calvet, Avignon medicine Faculty’s professor, who gave his own collections and books to the city.

Who’s Calvet?

Esprit-Claude-François Calvet was born in a family from Toulouse, on November 24th 1728. He studied at Avignon’s Jesuits until he had 15 years old. Then he went in Lyon and Paris, to study. Study what? Because he loved medicine... and arts! Finally, he decided to study medicine in Montpellier.

Coming back in Avignon, he wrote memoirs about medicine, chemistry, anatomy, archeology... Sir Calvet was pretty curious!

But he was above all a great art collector, who had a huge library: more than 5 000 books, he will give to the city of Avignon! In short, Esprit moved in Avignon, and he worked to the Sainte-Marthe hospital as a head doctor.

But in 1752, he fell ill, he needed a little rest. During his convalescence, he painted, wrote poems, classified Vaucluse’s flowers... Crowned heads and all the period upper crust came to see him!

During the French Revolution, Esprit had to sell one part of his collection, to make a bit of extra money: a real heart-breaking!

But it was the bloody Revolution... He must cured wounded people, who arrived in a body in the hospital. Esprit was tired, he had to leave: he died on July 25th 1810. But his collections remained famous, even after his death...

And also!