Esprit Calvet, the inquisitive surgeon and his 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... The museum was founded by Esprit Calvet, a professor at Avignon medicine Faculty, who gave his own collections and books to the city.
Esprit-Claude-François Calvet was born in a family from Toulouse, on November 24th 1728. He studied in Avignon until he had 15 years old. Then he went in Lyon and Paris, to study medicine... and arts! Finally, he decided to study medicine in Montpellier. Back in Avignon, he wrote memoirs about medicine, chemistry, anatomy, archeology... He also worked in Sainte-Marthe hospital as a head doctor. But he was above all a great art collector, who had a huge library: more than 5 000 books! But in 1752, he fell ill, he needed a little rest. During his convalescence, he painted, wrote poems, classified Vaucluse 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 had to cure wounded people, who arrived in a body in the hospital. Esprit was tired, he had to leave: he died on July 25th 1810.