Fond d’une centaine de dessins sur Saint-Tropez et son golfe
Charles Vasserot, a key figure in the history of Saint-Tropez, is still celebrated today in the town thanks to the washhouse that bears his name since 1991. Built in 1862 according to plans provided by the architect, it bears witness to the importance of its dedicatee.
He seems to have travelled with pleasure through Saint-Tropez and its surroundings in order to fix the image, and in particular he produced views of Beauvallon, Roquebrune, Grimaud, Châtaigneraie, Notre-Dames-des-Anges, Gassin, the Salins, the Verne, the Chartreuse, or even the Cap de la Moutte and Pinet. The artist brilliantly transcribes the Mediterranean light and is particularly interested in the mineral and plant effects. In a vibrant and picturesque style, he shows a wild countryside with lush nature. Humans are almost absent from his pictures, with the exception of a few shepherds and the few dwellings dotting the Maures countryside.
Some thirty years ahead of its time, this unprecedented background wonderfully transcribes the descriptions and moods subtly narrated by Maupassant in 1876 in Sur l'eau. The famous author said of this region that "if you walk into the unknown valleys of this strange mountain range, you discover an improbably wild region, without roads, without paths, even without trails, without hamlets, without houses". He also specifies that "from time to time, after seven or eight hours of walking, one sees a hovel, often abandoned, and sometimes inhabited by a miserable family of charcoal burners".
The son of Philibert Vasserot and Angélique Françoise Segoing, Charles Vasserot was born in Paris in the 8th arrondissement. A draughtsman and architect, he was a pupil of Achille Leclère and exhibited at the Salon des artistes français in Paris from 1831. Charles came from a philanthropic family, his brother Saint-Ange Vasserot, an engineer, lived in Saint-Tropez as a "benefactor of the town".
During the first part of his life, Charles Vasserot had a career as an architect for the civil hospices and charitable institutions of the city of Paris. He appeared in the chronicles of the city of Tropez around 1850. In particular, he bought various plots of land on Saint-Antoine hill in 1850, 1858, 1860 and 1862. From 1851 onwards, Charles had his own house built there. The following year, the municipal councillors asked him to look for the most favourable location for the construction of a school run by the Marist Brothers. In April 1852, Vasserot drew up the plan of the building free of charge and was asked to supervise the construction work, which cost 30,425 francs. In July, the municipal council gratefully accepted his offer to lend the commune 15,000 francs interest-free for 10 years. In 1854, the architect was a member of a commission charged with improving the flow of water to the fountain in the Place aux Herbes, which was supplied with water from the Maïre spring. On 1 August 1858, Vasserot became a town councillor, elected on 24 and 25 July, by 457 votes out of 471 voters. In October 1858, he intervened to have the Saint-Tropez shipyard enlarged, and in December, he was a member of the examination board for student painters. Very active, Charles was the director of works for the construction of the asylum, he was also part of the road commission, for the works of the Belle Isnarde road and the Hanrigou bridge. He resigned from his political functions on 27 September 1862, and left Saint-Tropez on 27 July 1863, taking the remains of his brother Saint-Ange with him. As a testimony to the good memories he kept of the town, Vasserot left by holographic will the sum of 1,000 francs to the municipal asylum, in order to clothe and provide linen for the children present in this establishment.