Mayor of Le Bugue

Historian of the Périgord

President of the “Eugène le Roy Institute”

Fighting for Identity

The Périgord is indeed unique. It is both fierce and fragile. The artists who have sensed and captured this uniqueness have sensed the threat of “modern age”, ruthlessly sweeping away everything in its path. The more our misty past disappears, the more their precious testimony becomes our safeguard.

In a reality which long seemed immobile they have perceived a world which, without our realizing it, is doomed to disappear. The pastoral scenes which Julien SARABEN discovered and depicted have thus become part of our national heritage. Out and about on his little bicycle, he identified all that he considered precious and worthy of careful protection.

The collection, lovingly preserved by his son Jacques, brings back to life all the merry souls, the animals and the scenes from those bygone cart track days.

The true and talented artist does not seek to be bombastic or pedantic. Julien SARABEN reveals to us, in simple and skilful pencil strokes, a whole world that was to vanish forever: the world of farmyards and villages where the majority of Périgord people lived.

The pencil strokes are naturally unbiased and the artist does not seek to portray a Paradise Lost. The sketches blatantly attest to the grim reality of peasant life, as in the writings of Eugène le Roy or François Mauriac.

They do not endeavour to depict an Underworld of misery and abuse; the artist is clearly sharing with us his love of the simple country life that the Meunier du Frau (the Miller of Frau) yearned for.

Leafing through the voluminous, hitherto unpublished sketch- book, childhood memories come streaming back: scenes and characters we ourselves once knew, long before the irruption of the motor car and the flood of lorries.

But Julien SARABEN was not only an observer of the peaceful country life. He will always be remembered as the illustrator of the greatest works of our Périgord folklore. And we cannot forget that he was our infinitely patient schoolteacher who taught us to observe nature and the world around us. How great was our respect for his talent, his discretion and his wonderful sense of humour!

Moreover, Julien SARABEN, curator of the Périgord Museum, built up collections which have assured the safeguard of our past.

He taught us to detect the danger that lies before us: the menace of standardization and uniformity which threatens our native soil.

Translated from the French by Valérie SARABEN