Faces In The Rocks

The Incredible Rock Sculptures Of Rotheneuf France

photo courtesy flickr – Drisc67

Location of Rotheneuf Rock Sculptures

In the village of Rotheneuf on the Brittany coast of France, one man carved over 300 magnificent sculptures into the granite cliffs overlooking the sea.

This amazing work of faces, creatures and scenes were sculpted into the rocks painstakingly by a priest, Adolphe-Julien (Abbé) Fouré (1839-1910) over about a fifteen year period. (Sources vary on the number of years he was active.)

It was painstaking because when he was older, Abbé Fouré suffered a stroke which caused the left side of his body to be paralyzed. Over the years he eventually became deaf and his speech got very slurred.

Fouré  retired from the priesthood and became a hermit, renting a cabin by the cliffs of the village. In the early 1890’s with one side of his body crippled,  Fouré, began creating sculptures in the rocks, that told the history of the powerful Rotheneuf family. He continued carving up until about three years before his death on February 10, 1910. 

These rock sculptures are among the lesser known treasures of France and though not well advertised, people who know of their existence come from around the world and marvel at this outdoor museum of art. Because they are eternally exposed to the elements, the site is being affected by erosion and the sculptures are not as detailed as when originally carved. Eventually, unless something is done to protect them, there will come a day when these works of art will vanish.

Here are some stunning photographs of the rock sculptures done by Abbé Fouré.

photo courtesy flickr Drisc67


photo courtesy flickr Drisc67


photo courtesy flickr Coalvillestation2011

photo courtesy flickr loloieg

2 thoughts on “Faces In The Rocks

  1. Charles

    Never thought this would come to be discussed here !
    I spent most of my childhood vacation on the beaches nearby (au Havre de Rothéneuf). I also did a lot of sailing, and we’d often sail by the rocks on our daily tours. But sadly you can’t get too close, because there’s a rock barrier just before the cliffs.
    The whole region is like that : rocks of all shapes, sizes and sorts, some (the dangerous ones) appearing and disappearing with daily tides. They all echo with the stories which gave them their names – Englishmen’s rock, Flat Rock, Porks’ Bank … But among them, the sculpted rocks of Rothéneuf clearly yield a more powerful story about men.
    That part of Brittany is stunning of the raw beauty of primal elements – the sea and the rocks -, and I would know of no better way to fuse with it all than to carve one’s own stories into them. Then is man truly in unisson with his environment. As someone who knows the region from inside and grew to cherish it like the jewel that it is, thiese are my add-on thoughts.

  2. Françoise Genty

    Thanks ever so much for such a good piece of work on the Abbé Fouré.
    It is great to see that some people do care.
    It is also great that they look at the facts and try to get them right.
    Yes, sadly, the Abbé Fouré is still very unknown in France and it is a real shame.
    He was an amazing man who left us a wonderful a fantastic work.
    He even left us more…but a lack of care meant that what he left in care to pass on to generation was lost; an amazing museum of carved wood!
    For I do not know the reason, his work has not been protected as it should have been or should I say…because of some greedy private owners who thought of making money on this unique master piece.
    Even if it will take time, money and hours of researches to save and protect this work which has already faded, a newly born French Association (2010: 100 year after the abbé died) is trying hard to save the work but most of all the name and reputation of the Abbé Fouré; it is the ‘Amis de l’Oeuvre de l’Abbé Fouré’- here are their Blog http://rochersrotheneuf.wordpress.com/ & Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/LErmite-de-Roth%C3%A9neuf-Abb%C3%A9-Four%C3%A9/376174069119995.
    Some Outsiders sites on the Net try too to bring people to do something to help.
    It will take time…to bring those who are not touched by Outsiders Artists; it will take time to bring the different administrations to do something, because…it is on a private place and that in France, some people still have some ‘privileges’…which should not exist in this case as it was a master piece made for all and also which wanted to be for the poor…
    Yes the Abbé Fouré was not asking for any money, he was not selling either, he used to give in exchange as things done for him if he needed help.
    He was a good man, kind towards people, nice to kids, charitable to the excess, a man you will have difficulties to find nowadays!
    Thanks for your wonderful text it touched me.
    Thanks for taking the time to bring your readers to know about this wonderful man.
    If you can, leave a message on the Blog, do not worry if it is in English, it will mean a lot to them. I will translate it for the president of the Association, as I am a member.
    All my best regards.


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