Yesterday I took the train to Vevey to visit the Historical Museum, in search of François Aimé Louis Dumoulin: A man of Vevey…who ended up in the West Indies.
Two hours or so later, I met my sister-in-law at the station, and we took the scenic route to the museum, browsing storefronts in the old town, and walking along the waterfront of Lac Leman, otherwise known as Lake Geneva. To confuse me further, the mountains on the other side of the lake, were not Swiss, but the mountains of France. The border lays somewhere in the lake. The Grande Place is in the centre of the town; traditionally a place for markets, shows and so on. On the lake shore, we saw a bevy of swans sleeping, bathing, au toilette, and in the Grande Place itself, a huge tent had been put up…the Knie circus was in town!
Vevey is home to Charlie Chaplin and headquarters to Nestlé, and while I did not get to Nestlé, we visited and lunched at the Alimentarium, as in alimentary canal, for those of us who did general science. The Alimentarium is a Nestlé foundation and presents various aspects of human nutrition in a captivating and interactive manner…and yes, there is an oversized alimentary canal to walk through, with monitors showing the various stages of digestion…until the bitter end. I was extremely taken by their conservatory with the hanging garden. Note to self: that would look so good at home.
After lunch, we headed to meet with the historical museum’s assistant curator, Fanny Abbot. She talked me through the museum’s Dumoulin collection, explaining that the items were bought or gifted to the museum, and that while they hold the largest collection of objects on Dumoulin, other objects held in private collections may, in time, come to the museum. There are two books on Dumoulin – one is a museum publication by Françoise Bonnet Borel and the other by Paul Morand: ‘Monsieur Dumoulin à l’Isle de la Grenade’ published in 1976. I purchased the former; the latter will be ordered via Amazon. In the Borel publication, he notes that the Swiss were well-known for their financial knowledge and played a prominent role in Grenada, including the Peshier brothers of Geneva, and other Swiss business persons mentioned in my previous Dumoulin blog.
Dumoulin, son of a hospital director, was born in Vevey in 1753. His family lived in a comfortable building on the north bank of Borg-aux-Favres, with a very large orchard, meadow, barn and a mill. It was one of the biggest properties of the borough, about 600 meters. Dumoulin left home for England at 19, ultimately bound for Grenada where he lived for more than 10 years and developed his passion for drawing. He returned to Vevey in October 1783, and then painted at least 2 works depicting Grenada being taken from the British by the French. 234 years later, in October I got to see Dumoulin’s portrait, and some of his Grenada works.
In the background, of the small 1788 painting listed as ‘Combats et Jeux des Negres’ or ‘Fighting and Negro Games’ you can clearly see (modern day) D’arbeau hill, and coming forward, Fort George, the bay of St George’s port and the edge of Mount Pandy/Port Louis. In the foreground where the action takes place — in my opinion — is Mount Pandy Beach. I discussed this with Ms Abbott, and I have to send her a photo from that angle for comparison. Perhaps at some point, the title may read ‘Jeux de combat et de nègres sur la plage de Mount Pandy, Saint George’s, Grenade.’
Many of the paintings are under glass, and with the excellent lighting in the museum, it was difficult to get stellar images. However, the two larger paintings: one about the fight with a large shark and the naval battle for Grenada, were well worth seeing in person. Maybe the Grenada National Museum could make requests for high resolution images to add to their archives of things Grenadian…and maybe this could become part of the school curriculum.
I left Vevey after 4pm, briskly walking through the old town, and praying my sense of direction would get me back to the station to catch the next train in time. I’ve learned, living in Feutersoey almost a whole month, that late travelling by public transport, presents a unique challenge: the last bus home from the train station leaves at 8:37 pm, promptly. After that… you’re on your own. It’s only a 2 hour walk from Gstaad to the schoolhouse, and it’s reasonably safe to do so…but at night when the temperature is somewhere in the artic figures? No thanks.
Oh yes, the hanging garden… I kid you not: banana, spinach, passion fruit, cabbage, big leaf thyme… and more.
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