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Ferdinand Cheval was born in Charmes, a small village near to Hauterives, in 1836. Born into a poor family, he left school at an early age to begin work as a baker’s apprentice. After a few years away, he returned home and became a rural postman.
Postman Cheval (Ferdinand Cheval)
Entirely self-taught, Cheval devoted 33 years of his life to building his dream palace and garden. He took inspiration from nature, postcards and the very first illustrated magazines. When finished, Cheval installed an incredible bestiary in the palace where he housed octopuses, hinds, caimans, elephants, pelicans, bears and birds. The palace was also home to images of giants, fairies and mythological figures, and drew architectural inspiration from every continent. Unique in the world, completely independent from artistic trends and built with no architectural rules, the Ideal Palace has been admired for more than a century now, particularly by the Surrealists, and is considered a masterpiece of outsider art.
Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace was listed as a monument historique in 1969 by André Malraux (Minister for Cultural Affairs from 1959 to 1969), as he judged it to be a shining example of naïve art. Nowadays, the palace is internationally admired as an icon of this style.
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