SAGOT, Émile
(b. 1805, Dijon, d. 1888, Dijon)

Merveille from the south

1862-69
Watercolour
Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris

The Merveille (the marvelous) was built between 1210 and 1228 on Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. After the conquest of Normandy by the French king Philippe-Auguste, Mont-Saint-Michel was no longer merely an abbey situated in the middle of the Anglo-Norman kingdom. It was now a French outpost on the border with England formed by the Channel. It was rebuilt at the time in an extravagant way.

Storerooms, accommodation for the various guests to the abbey, and a cloister had to be integrated into one building, for which there was really no more space on the steep cliff alongside the church. Therefore strong superstructures were built, which lend a fortress-like appearance to the building. Behind this external view, a series of rooms are hidden away, increasing in elegance from the lower level to the top level.