Musee Reattu

Arles - Cultural place

Formerly known as the Grand Prieuré de l'Ordre de Malte (Grand Priory of the Order of Malta).

The Grand Priory was originally formed of two adjoining commanderies, each built around an inner courtyard. Of the Saliers commandery built in the 15th century, the southern façade of the inner courtyard, a superb vaulted hall on the ground floor and the large first floor room overlooking the river, which was used as a studio by Jacques Réattu, are still outstanding. The Saint Thomas commandery, which became the Grand Priory, was also built around an inner courtyard; this was made smaller in 1640 by the construction of a majestic grand staircase to replace the old spiral staircase. On each floor, loggias bordered with balustrades, opening onto the light of the courtyard, connect the rooms.

Built in 1503 with a street-facing façade, the late Gothic style chapel has a flat chevet topped with three vaulted bays with intersecting ribs and emblazoned pendentive keystones. The room above the chapel housed the archives. The northern main building, made more prestigious by the presence of the river, sums up the architectural history of the building. It has retained parts of mullioned windows and lattice work replaced by wide windows in the 18th century. The top of the façade reveals a mediaeval décor of crenellations and false machicolations adorned with superb gargoyles. The entrance door on rue du Grand-Prieuré, topped with a canted wall fronton, dates back to the 17th century.

BACKGROUND

The Knights of the Order of Malta (or the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem) is a community of monks-soldiers founded during the crusades in the 11th century. The Order is divided into commanderies, grouped together by territory under the authority of the Grand Prior. The former commandery of Saint Thomas was built in 1358 after the destruction of the commandery founded in Trinquetaille in the 12th century. It became the Grand Priory in 1562, after the pillage of that of Saint Gilles during the Religious Wars.

It was rebuilt in the 17th century, primarily by one of its most famous Priors, Honoré Quiqueran de Beaujeu. A decree of 1615 ruled that the Grand Priors would live there. The commandery thus became the Grand Priory of the 48 commanderies of the language of Provence. The two buildings were seized in 1792 and sold as national assets to the collector and painter Jacques Réattu, in several sales between 1796 and 1827. His daughter, an heir with no descendants, sold the buildings and collections to the town for a life annuity; the town turned them into the Public Fine Arts Museum in 1868.

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Where to stay

Le Mazet 35
Holiday rental

Le Mazet 35

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Ibis budget palais des Congrès
Hotel

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Arles

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A mia Casa
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Hotel

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Things to do

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Repair of bicycles

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Where to eat

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