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Jean-Michel Peers | all galleries >> GIVERNY aujourd'hui >> Giverny in days gone by > Agriculture and Livestock
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Agriculture and Livestock

Agriculture and Livestock

Text by André Buffet
Translation by Katherine Bourguignon
Photography and layout by Jean-Michel Peers
Postcards from the Terra Foundation for American Art

The surface area of the village is 660 hectares.
The unbuilt surface area was 628 hectares.

In the past one hundred years, vineyards and grain crops have been abandoned;
nature has regained its rights, bushes have taken over the land.
Patches of conifers and invasive plants have developed.

Agriculture represented the principal professional activity for
farmers, vintners and market gardeners.

Above is Mr. Lebrun, market gardener or truck farmer, who lived at the end
of the rue du Pressoir. Before working independently, he worked as a gardener
for Claude Monet. (G. Vahé) He was the one who laid out the terraces of the
Hotel Baudy in front of the first artist’s studio in Giverny. (D. Goupil)

His market gardening activity extended to the other side of the lower road next to
today’s water garden, and to the west of the village as far as the “Maison Rose,”
which made a nice farm. These portraits are of the market gardener and his daughter
Marguerite. These are not simple family pictures, but postcards made in Paris
by a well-known manufacturer of photographic plates, films and papers.


There were also poultry farmers, breeders and dairy farmers and even…

... a threshing company, a horticulturist, a blacksmith farrier and fresh water fishermen.

There existed about twenty agricultural farms sharing 420 hectares of lands,
20 hectares on average per farm. The rest of the unbuilt surface area was
divided as follows: meadows (60 ha), orchards and gardens (6 ha),
vineyards (17 ha), woods (106 ha), moors (13 ha), park (4 ha).

The territory was to a great extent divided into sections. In certain areas of
well-known land, many plots were not larger than 2.5 or 3 meters in width.

With more than 200 plots between the “Bout de Giverny” and the “Grand Val”,
one can imagine the difficulties of farming….

A RARE FAMILY DOCUMENT (with the gracious authorization of Nicolle Prier)

The Hervieux farm and its outbuildings were next to Claude Monet’s property. They were separated
by the ruelle de l’Amiscourt. In this photograph made from a glass plate negative, we can see the
Hervieux family in the 1920s, posing for the photograph. From left to right, Louise Hervieux
(1886-1965), grandmother of Nicolle Prier; Kléber Hervieux, her grandfather (1881-1961);
Pierre Hervieux, her uncle, born in 1914; and her other uncle, Paul Hervieux.
On the cart, we can spot her mother, Suzanne Hervieux, born Durupt (1906-1999).

A beautiful rural scene, much loved by painters and photographers - it was taken between the farm
and the lower road currently known as the “chemin du Roy.” You can notice the row of poplar trees
bordering the Ru of Giverny, and a small wooden fence, like the one that stretched along the road
and the railroad. This slice of life in the fields is interesting when one knows the divergent
interests of Claude Monet, whose wish was to see the haystacks remain as long as possible
in place so he could paint them in all atmospheric conditions, and the farmers,
eager to bring the grain to a dry place before the summer storms.

The question was also raised with the poplar trees, which needed to be pruned from
time to time, to the great displeasure of the artist (for more on this subject
see the page Achille Delaplace, teacher)



Long ago, nobility and clergymen had recourse to charters to exercise their privileges,
assert their rights, establish and register their properties. For several centuries,
the notary profession dealt with the business of sharing, transfer, sales, exchanges,
donations, etc…. in an immutably complicated, and at times emphatic, language:

Postcards, dating from the beginning of the last century, demonstrate the division of the
properties. Notarized bills confirmed it; so the sharing among the Himont, Singeot and Auvray
families registered November 24, 1866, indicates that the plot given to Mrs. Himont consisted of …

Before Napoleon’s administration decided to inventory all properties on
French territory in 1838, notaries designated the property to transfer
in the following way in a bill of exchange from April 20 1835,
“Between sire and lady Ledanois of Giverny and sire
Jacques Singeot also of the village of Giverny”:

But habits are often well-rooted; despite the numbering of the plots on the first cadastral map,
it was still common in 1868 to designate a plot sold by sire Saintard to Gustave Alexandre
Auvray “who accepts a piece of ploughable land situated in the valley,
village of Giverny, containing 866 square meters on one side Jean Chevalier,
on the other side Jacques Le Doyen, on both ends, paths.”

The predominant crop was grain (three mills ground the grain).
We can see above the numerous haystacks, dear to Claude Monet, which
extended from the “chemin des vignettes” to the plain of the “Ajoux.”

Potatoes and beets were cultivated less while vineyards occupied 17 ha
of the 60 available on the hillsides.

other sizes: small original
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