The Zadkine Museum in Les Arques, the Lot

La Pieta in Saint-Laurent church

RUSSIAN born sculptor Ossip Zadkine made his home in the small village of Les Arques, in the Lot region of France.

And today you can visit the museum that has three large rooms showing his work, as well as other sculptures in the village and the Église St Laurant.

> looking for accommodation in the area, see what’s on offer around Les Arques.

Zadkine Museum

Zadkine was born in 1890 in the same Russian village as Chagall, and went on to become one of the most respected artists of his generation.

Zadkine sculptures

His work drew influences from Christianity, Greek mythology and even ancient Egypt – and it is produced in wood, bronze, stone and clay.

In the museum there are three large pieces Orphée, Diane and Daphné which were made from dead tress, as Zadkine refused to cut down a living tree.

All three possess a force and power as well as incredible character, with each still in an unfinished state that gives them a living, breathing quality.

Zadkine bought a house in Les Arques in 1934 and became an influential part of the village community.

Église St Laurant in Les Arques

The Église St Laurant is opposite the museum and in here are two of the largest pieces of work that he produced.

Christ in Saint-Laurent church

The first is that of Christ on the cross on the back of the church that was again produced from a dead tree with a large branch as one of the arms.

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In the crypt is Pietà, simply lit this is a mournful piece that has a mesmerising effect on you.

The church, dating back to the 11C, also has many architectural interests including Moorish columns and Islamic style arches.

A short drive away is the Église St Andre from the late 15C, discovered by Zadkine in 1954, and featuring remarkable frescoes – you collect the key from the museum.

I had never seen Zadkine’s work but this museum will ensure that I seek out more on the man.

It almost feels as if the pieces will walk straight out of the museum, through the quiet village and back to the surrounding forests where they originally came from.

Church and buildings in Les Arques

Les Arques is a beautiful and special place that should be on everybody’s “must visit” list.

Zadkine museum fee and opening times

There is a small fee of 3 euros to enter the museum, with a reduced tariff of 1,50 euros, and free entry for those aged under 26. And there is free entry on the first Saturday of each month.

Between April and the end of October the museum is open six days of the week, closed Mondays, from 10h30 to 12h30 and then from 14h30 to 18h30.

During the winter period it is open from 14h to 18h, and again closed on Mondays.

The Église St Laurant is open between 8h and 20h throughout the year, but just make sure you close the big wooden doors to ensure the lighting works correctly.

Village of Les Arques

The village of Les Arques is also worth spending some time wandering around, for example, behind the museum is Zadkine’s home and workshop although it is closed to the public.

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There are also lovely views across the surrounding woods, as well as beautiful honey coloured buildings, examples of lauze stone roofing and when I went a cat or two basking in the sunshine.

The village is home to the La Recreation restaurant, although it is always very busy, and a quiet tearoom near the museum called La P’tite Place, offering drinks and light lunches, as well as BnB options.

Take a slow walk through the village
Detail from La Messager, 1953
Harlequin Howling, 1956
Inside Église St Laurant
La P’tite Place lets you take in the village
A trip to Les Arques is worth your time

> looking for accommodation in the area, see what’s on offer around Les Arques.

Last Updated on 21 July, 2023.

Categorised as Tourism

By Craig McGinty

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