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F. Dequevauviller, Collection Fonfrège
The domaine is the setting for yet another enterprise when Pierre Nicolas Leenhardt launches a textile mill on the river Lez, which flows through the estate. His father, André Chrétien Leenhardt (1744-1813), was commercial director at the famous Wesserling Textile Mill in Alsace.
André Méjan’s niece, Eugenie Castelnau, inherits Fonfrège and she and her husband, Pierre Nicholas Leenhardt build Fonfroide-le-Bas, the first of several family manor houses that rose up around the estate.
After marrying Sophie Imer (1823–1902), Henri decides to continue the family business of his father, Pierre Nicholas, and joins the Imer’s textile enterprise in Marseille, which then becomes Imer Frères et Leenhardt.
Imer Frères et Leenhardt enjoys great success with its tissu indienne, a machine-made printed fabric. Meanwhile, Henri Leenhardt engineers a new process for chemically reproducing the color red without the time-consuming plant distillation process.
Fig. 1 Rubia Tinctorum or madder root produces red dye.
Art is creative for the sake of realization, not for amusement; for transfiguration, not for the sake of play. It is the quest of our Self that drives us along the eternal and never ending journey we must all make.
Frederic Bazille is the most celebrated of all of the artists in the family, but he had relatively little time to earn his laurels before dying tragically in a war battle at the age of 29.
During his relatively brief career, he becomes an important leader in the tight circle of Paris Impressionists. In 9 rue de la Condamine (1870), we see Bazille in his studio with friends Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Emile Zola, Eduard Manet, and Claude Monet.
Henri Leenhardt builds Fonfroide-le-Haut, the massive Gothic Revival chateau that for the next 200 years, is the social center for Languedoc’s most important families.
Scientist and theologian Franz Leenhardt dedicates much of his life to bridging the divide between theology and science. He makes extensive studies of prehistoric life throughout the Mediterranean, and notably charts the paleontological history of the famous Mont Ventoux near Montpellier.
Émile Littré, 1878
In the 1870’s he challenges Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, which has reached France and caused a massive stir.
Franz Leenhardt constructs one of France's first bicycles (known as a Velocipede) which he rides around Montpellier, his long, black cape flying up behind him.
Michel “Max” Leenhardt doesn’t achieve quite fame and recognition of his relative, Frédéric Bazille, but he remains influential for generations of impressionists and modernists that follow him. His plein air style of painting eventually leads to deeply religious work, reflecting his turn to God after the tragic death of his wife.
© Le Train Bleu/Groupe SSP
1898, Collection Fonfrège
Max also created some commercial works such as this poster for the aperitif Byrrh, which was produced in the region.
Two years after graduating from the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, a young Edmond Leenhardt receives the commission to design the façade of the new Petit Palais.
Anthropologist Maurice Leenhardt pioneers the concept of interactive ethnography at a time when most scholars remained removed from their subjects.
In 1902, he sails to Oceania to study the art and culture of the Kanak tribe. The little known and feared island tribe (they were cannibals) is on the verge of extinction. Leenhardt dedicates the rest of his life trying to save them.
1914: WORLD WAR I BEGINS
1918: WORLD WAR I ENDS
Architect Edmond Leenhardt is awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur for his remarkable contributions to the city of Montpellier.
1939: WORLD WAR II BEGINS
1945: WORLD WAR II ENDS
Author, actor, and documentary filmmaker Roger
Leenhardt sees the future of cinema and coins the
phrase, La Nouvelle Vague. Along with Jean Cocteau
and Luc Besson, he is instrumental in developing a new
style of cinema, championing the likes of François
Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Jacques Demy. His
critical writings about film inspire André Bazin to
launch the seminal magazine, Cahiers du Cinéma, for
which Leenhardt frequently writes.
Author, actor, and documentary filmmaker Roger Leenhardt sees the future of cinema and coins the phrase, La Nouvelle Vague. Along with Jean Cocteau and Luc Besson, he is instrumental in developing a new style of cinema, championing the likes of François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, and Jacques Demy. His critical writings about film inspire André Bazin to launch the seminal magazine, Cahiers du Cinétma, for which Leenhardt frequently writes.
Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC)
© Guardian News and Media Limited
With gratitude to Monsieur Jean Gartner (1922–2014) who, with passion and precision, researched the genealogy of this remarkable family.