The Couvent des Capucins was originally built in 1584 by the Capuchin monastic order.
In 1659, following the ratification of the Treaty of the Pyrenees annexing French Catalonia to Northern France, the border between France and Spain was fixed and any movement across the border was from then on carefully regulated. The Capuchins no longer occupied the convent.
Three centuries later, in 1913, the artist Frank Burty Haviland (1878 – 1972), the heir of renowned Limoges ceramicist Charles Havilland, having visited the town on a number of occasions, made a permanent move to the Vallespir area.
In 1948, Frank Burty Haviland assisted Pierre Brune in creating what we now know as the Musée d’Art Moderne. Haviland’s home, the converted Capuchin convent, welcomed numerous well-known artists through its doors.
This article from the journal ‘La Voix du Patrie’ pays tribute to the work of Haviland and the collection of artworks that we can see today in the Musée d’Art Moderne in Céret.
‘Frank Burty loved Céret with a stubbornness that we can only admire. Above all the Céret that existed at the beginning of the century. (…) Today, it’s impossible not to think of this artist who one moment arrived here in Céret a mere dilettante, surrounded by a group of adventurous and impulsive young artists, becoming within just a few years, one of the leading experts in the world of art. Although he would no doubt deny it, one day history will recount the true story of how much this school of art (Picasso, Gris et al) owes to this benefactor.’
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