Santons Marcel Carbonel

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the Santons of Provence

The history of generations is fed by historical accounts embellished by tradition. The Santons of Provence testify to the well-versed traditions of the local people. From one crib to another, the subjects find themselves characterised by details devised by their "Sire" who ensures their lineage depending on his creative mood. Thus the old trades remain in the tradition of Santons that has also nourished itself from the sheer coloured liveliness of the Pastorale. But who are they?

The Angel the messenger of Birth. In Provence, the divine adapts to popular imagery. The most famous is the angel Boufareu, the one who holds and blows on a trumpet and guides the population towards the stable. Marcel Carbonel also thought of the upright angel that symbolises God in the eyes of Jesus. And the head of the angel and the double Cherubs that watch over the child.

The Virgin sitting or kneeling, is the young mother in contemplation next to the little child. Joseph, the father, is dressed in a monk's robe. The little child, with modest grace, lying on straw and dressed in simple swaddling clothes, was made out of wax before changing over to clay; this material recalled the coming of the divine among men.

The blind man a likeable and comical character of the Pastorale, expresses an air of bonhomie with a neglected appearance thanks to the skilful use of modelling and bright colours.

Bartoumieu a likeable and comical character of the Pastorale, expresses an air of bonhomie with a neglected appearance thanks to the skilful use of modelling and bright colours.

The Bohemian is also a pioneer of the crib that first arrived in 1820. She confirms that Provence is a land of welcome. A child in her arms, with a gracefully tied scarf, a tambourine in the other hand and a skirt with many pleats, all details expressed in the work of the Santons craftsman.

The Ravi the “Delighted One”, belongs to the "Old Generation" and serves to illustrate the naive character clearly recognisable among them, with arms raised to the sky on learning of the birth.

The Shepherd one of the first Santons, has many faces: he will be young, kneeling, an old shepherd with a wise look, laying on the ground and waiting, or even accompanied by a sheep.

The animals such as the ass and the ox, as well as sheep, set the tone for the pastoral scene.

The Wise Men sumptuously dressed, contribute to this fairy tale-like atmosphere. Melchior is the Moorish king with a splendid turban on his head and a sumptuous ciborium in his hands. Balthazar called, by opposition, the white king, has a violet cape embroidered in gold. Gaspard, the kneeling king, carries a chest of gold coins.

the small people

They are still very numerous and cannot all be counted. Some evocative names recall the loquacity of Marcel Carbonel in painting these women and men, ambassadors of the southern soil. Each and every one of them makes for marvellous scenery that will be completed with skill and taste by enthusiasts of cribs, the "architects" of Christmas.

And also.The peasant with red fruits requested by Comtat Venaissin, the woman with the warming pan, the woman with soap, the ribbon merchant, the woman with snails, the woman with lavender, the lemon merchant ... all subjects where the meticulous details tell of the well-known daily life and reflect the colours of animated Provence. Marius can definitely trace his origins back to Alphonse Daudet and reminds us of this Tartarin with flowing words. The miner was a request to Marcel from the Coal Mines of Provence. St Francis of Assisi, draped in a monk’s robe with well-drawn folds, rediscovers the world of the crib. He is the patron saint of Santon craftsmen. The man with the jug, the cooper, the harness-maker, the gypsy with the guitar, the chestnut merchant, the glazier whose voice resounds in the streets... all illustrate this working population.