Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Découpages

While conducting some research I came accross the site of talented French Artist Stéphanie Miguet who specializes in découpages or paper cutting. I found her site because she was featured in a small art show at the Château of Denens, where my cousin Pierre de Büren makes wine.

During her time at Denens, Pierre showed her some découpages that two de Büren girls produced some 200 years ago. The artwork was most likely produced by Louise de Büren (1797-1841) and her sister, Cécile Amalie de Büren (1802-1890), both daughters of Louis Jacques de Büren (1771-1838) and Marie Henriette de Tavel (177-1864). I have featured Stephanie's photos of the 1810s découpages below. Enjoy.




Saturday, October 16, 2010

La Maison Jaune

Günther de Büren was the only son of Edouard de Büren (1853-1940) and Dorothée de Diesbach (1860-1940). His father was a lawyer and property manager in Bern. He was born in Bern in 1889 and would marry Maria Schild of Germany in 1927. Günther was a well known Biologist in Bern and French-speaking Switzerland. He was the Secretary of the Natural Sciences Society in Bern, Archivist of the Swiss Society of Natural Sciences and the Editor of the Swiss Botanical Society's publications. He made especially important contributions in the study of mushrooms with his publication Protomycetaceae of Switzerland: life history and biology.

He and his wife lived in a beautiful house called La Maison Jaune (The Yellow House) in the small town in Cully (VD) on the lake of Geneva. Günther and Maria did not have any children and when he died in 1953 he left the building to the town of Cully. The town did not take possession of the building until the death of Maria in 1966.

The house dates from 1641 and today is the home of the winemaker of the city (vigneron de la commune) with cellars in the basement, work shops on the main floor, living quarters on the second floor, city administration boardrooms on the third floor and the attic space displays local artists.

La Maison Jaune

La Maison Jaune

View of Cully (VD), Switzerland

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vaumarcus Bear Hunt


When I was a boy I often heard a story about how one my ancestor's was rumored to have killed the last wild bear in Bern. If true, it would be quite a dubious distinction since the bear is the beloved symbol of the city. I now believe the story to be false, but I think the tale became part of family lore thanks to an actual event involving a bear hunt led by my ancestor for the sovereign of Neuchâtel.

The story is taken from La Béroche: recherches historiques sur la paroisse de Saint-Aubin By Fritz Chabloz. It describes how in 1700, Baron Jean-Charles de Büren of Vaumarcus who was at the time the Grand Veneur de Neuchâtel (Responsible for the Royal Hunt), was instructed to organize a Bear Hunt for the Prince of Neuchâtel.


Diana, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt

Jean-Charles found a young bear in a tree near Gorgier. He ordered the men in his company to retrieve the bear. Finding his men unwilling, Jean-Charles climbed the pine tree himself, forcing the bear to go higher. They both found themselves at the top of the pine tree when the tree gave way and both the Baron and the Bear came tumbling down. The bear was taken to Vaumarcus, where he was released into the woods behind the castle and the hunt began. Many dogs were also released into the woods to track the bear only to return to the castle courtyard their tails between their legs. The hunt would continue without the benefit of the hounds who were too scared to venture anew in pursuit of their prey. The bear would outwit the hunters for a full 8 days until he ultimately met his maker.


"Cependant la Béroche était encore le coin du pays où l'on venait par tradition faire de grandes chasses. C'est ainsi que, dans la dernière année du XVIIme siècle, la grande chasse qui devait masquer les arrangements à prendre pour qu'un prince français devînt prince de Neuchâtel, eut lieu à Gorgier. C'est ainsi que le haut-gruyer, Charles-Victor de Büren, au commencement du XVIlIme siècle, découvrit, un jour qu'il se livrait au noble art de la vénerie, un ourson sur un sapin. — Il commanda au garde qui l'accompagnait d'aller faire descendre l'animal de son gîte aérien. Mais le garde était fort craintif, en vrai écureuil qu'il était; il s'en défendit tant qu'impatienté de Büren s'élança sur l'arbre et grimpa jusqu'à l'ours, qui monta plus haut. Arrivés tous deux au sommet du sapin, force leur fut de s'arrêter. L'ours voulut faire repentir son ennemi de sa témérité : il lui allongeait d'énergiques coups de patte. Le haut-gruyer ne savait d'abord comment se défendre, car un coup d'arquebuse lui semblait quelque chose de vulgaire ; il ordonna à son domestique de lui apporter une corde avec un nœud coulant. Puis au premier mouvement hostile de son antagoniste, il lui passa le nœud à une patte et l'attira à lui. L'animal résistait. Le chasseur, qui était grand et fort, dut employer toutes ses forces pour lui faire lâcher prise. Bref, après un violent craquement, la branche, la corde, l'ours, le baron, tout dégringola. Fort heureux que le sapin fût garni de branches touffues! On arriva sans grand mal au pied de l'arbre. Là les chasseurs parvinrent à lier le jeune ours avant qu'il fût tout à fait revenu à lui. Il fut conduit à Vauxmarcus et élevé dans la cour du château. Quand l'hôte du baron eut pris de la taille, le haut-gruyer invita ses amis à une chasse à l'ours. L'animal fut lâché dans la combe boisée derrière le château. Une meute où figuraient tous les héros de la gent canine neuchâteloise fut mise sur la voie et l'on sonna le lancé. Mais lorsque les chiens s'approchèrent et voulurent l'attaquer, l'ours en éventra trois ou quatre de sa robuste patte ; aussitôt toute la meute tourna dos en hurlant, et l'animal s'enfonça rapidement au fond des bois. Les chasseurs déconcertés durent continuer la chasse sans meute; maintenant que la bête était lâchée, il fallait l'abattre, car le Gouverneur avait rendu le haut-gruyer responsable des dommages que pourrait causer l'ours s'il venait à s'échapper. Ce ne fut que après huit jours de battue et de fatigues que les chasseurs purent sonner la mort de l'ours de Vauxmarcus."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Genealogy Parchment Roll

There are many family artifacts that I am drawn to, but one has always fascinated me. A genealogy tree or in this case a parchment roll that was created in the 17th century to chronicle the de Büren family history up to that point. The creator started to write widthwise as you would with an illustrated family tree, but thought better of it, given the length of the narrative and after the first generation began writing lengthwise.

It appears to be done by a family member and was possibly done by Jean-Charles de Büren (1636-1719). I imagine my ancestor with a quill and ink reservoir at a large table diligently writing out the early history of the de Büren family. I am sure it never crossed his mind that one of his descendants would be looking at his work 350 years on.

de Büren family genealogy parchment roll first entry – Arnold de Büren, 1166

14th century section

Parchment roll ends with the children of David de Büren and Marguerite de Bonstetten
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