Its cultural activities

Jean Bruneau's cultural activities have left their mark on his town and region.

A family's genealogy is often intimately intertwined with the history of a city. For Jean Bruneau, knowing that his eyes were resting on a Nantes landscape, street or monument that his grandfather, and then his father before him, had also seen, moved and delighted him. He thought that his children, then his grandchildren, would one day find themselves in that same street or in front of that same monument...

He used to say, "When you teach a child something, you owe them the truth! and it was probably in this spirit that he invested so much time and effort in the great history of Nantes. He wanted to get people interested in their past, and encourage them to push open the doors of a gallery or museum more easily, without shyness, so that they could immerse themselves in the truths of the subject.

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Jean Bruneau was first and foremost a painter, but he was also a great lover of history who was passionate about his city of Nantes, always on the lookout for creative ideas to enhance its architectural, botanical, maritime, military or industrial heritage. Throughout the second half of the 20th century, he strove to bring together, explain and convince the people of Nantes, both elected representatives and decision-makers, so that initiatives could be implemented to help residents discover the riches of their city. In this way, he left his mark on a large number of cultural and artistic initiatives.


Former name of the Musée de la Marine in the Château de Nantes.
The famous collection of the Amieux brothers was largely destroyed by the bombings of 1943, and what could be saved was stored at the Musée Dobrée. In 1955, the collection was moved to the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, where it included a large number of naval objects and models. As a result, the museum was mistakenly known as the Musée de la Marine rather than the Musée des Salorges.

1963. Jean Bruneau took over the presidency of the Association des Amis du Musée des Salorges, with the aim of revitalising it, raising its profile and increasing the number of members in order to complete the collections. He designed the acronym AMS and came up with the idea of the "SALORGES NOTEBOOKS that will be sure to excite the marine enthusiasts of Nantes.

Under his presidency, the association organised major maritime exhibitions at the Château des Ducs. It considerably increased its collections, so much so that as early as 1976, when new rooms were opened in the Château museum, it announced a list of more than 500 donations of various objects, paintings and models.

Jean Bruneau is pursuing his goal of turning the Musée des Salorges into a major museum worthy of his city's maritime past. He is already aware that the major renovation of the museum in the Château des Ducs de Nantes will take place in the next few years, and he has begun the process of handing over all the collections acquired by the association. They will be donated to the museum for its inauguration in 2006.
He did not see the project through to completion because, aware of his health problems, a few years before his death in 2001 he handed over the presidency to his friend Jean-Claude Batard.
Today, if the Château de Nantes has such a rich collection, it is largely due to the hard work and perseverance of all the members of the Friends of the Musée des Salorges association, which Jean Bruneau chaired for over 30 years.


Created in 1949 by Bernard Roy under the name of Académie Régence, it brought together men of letters, poets, historians, journalists and artists who wanted to promote Nantes and its region, its past, its culture and its art in general through high-quality accounts, stories and illustrations. In 1958 it was probably Henri Bouyer who nominated Jean Bruneau, who was accepted by co-option. In 1964, Bruneau proposed the publication of the first Cahier de l'Académie. From the following year onwards, each issue would contain eight drawings by Jean Bruneau, captioned by the author, on a theme chosen by the Academy. Most of the drawings were created especially for the edition in question, and some were chosen from old paintings or annotated sketches. Jean Bruneau presented more than 200 drawings that were highly representative of people's lives and memories, sometimes with humour or ferocity, but always glowing with truth in the Cahiers de l'Académie. Some members of the Académie became friends rather than acquaintances. Still others maintained a very cordial professional relationship with him and his family.

Drawings from the Brittany and Loire region academy notebooks


1956. Jean Bruneau created the "Cercle Jean de Crabosse", whose aim was to keep the cult of the old navy alive in the people of Nantes.


In June 1957, his first exhibition was held at the Galerie d'Art Decré. Under the name "Imagery of the Nantes Navy it exalts the prestigious past of the port of Nantes through colourful works. To give the exhibition added weight, Bruneau placed it under the patronage of the Académie Régence (formerly the Académie de Bretagne et des Pays de Loire).

CAP HORN exhibition

1959. Jean Bruneau organises the exhibition "CAP HORN at the Château des Ducs for the Musée des Salorges, presented by the Cercle Jean de Crabosse and the Association Mer et Voile, with the participation of the Musée de St Malo, the Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Nantes and the Association Internationale des Cap-Horniers. The illustrated album "Towards Cape Horn" rounded off this cultural event.


1960. He sets up the exhibition "BOATS OF YESTERYEAR for the Musée des Salorges in the Château des Ducs. The exhibition featured 37 portraits of ships and 9 models. A "Jean-François de Nantes" plate designed by J. Bruneau was published for the occasion.


1960. As President of the Cercle Jean de Crabosse, with his friend Charles Viaud, he conceived and realised the ambitious project of the Concarneau Fishing Museum which was inaugurated in July 1961.

Jean BRUNEAU and Charles VIAUD on the day of the inauguration.


1961. Under the auspices of the Cercle Jean de Crabosse, and on behalf of the Friends of the Musée des Salorges, he organised a major exhibition at the Château des Ducs entitled "DANISH MARITIME TRADITION. The public discovered a number of items from the Elsinore museum, including paintings, models of ships and lighthouses, and documents on Vikings and whalers. This exhibition was to expand and become the "Danish Fortnight" in Nantes. On this occasion, Jean Bruneau showed off his organisational talent to the full. He planned :

A 7-day stopover for the escort "WILLEMOËS with the docking greeted by the ringing of the Bagad de Lann Bihoué.

the escort WILLEMOËS quai de l'aiguillon

The opening of the exhibitions by Prince George of Denmark.

Prince Géorge of Denmark, Henri Orrion Mayor of Nantes, Henri Villandre Danish Consul and Jean Bruneau

The exhibition Andersen at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and a lecture on the author at the Palais de la Bourse. A stand Denmark at the Foire-Exposition in Nantes. The decoration of shop windows in Nantes and the Danish shopping. La Philatelic Day with 1st day envelope. The drawing competition and the afternoon Children's games aboard the Willemoësas well as Regattas on the Erdre pitting the Danish sailors against the clubs from Nantes.

The regional press warmly welcomed the event, and there were many congratulations. The Prince personally wrote a letter of thanks to Jean Bruneau, as did the Danish Ambassador in Paris, and the Commander and 1st Lieutenant of the Willemoës also wrote and sent a souvenir parcel at the end of the year.

the Nantes press on the occasion of Prince Géeorge's visit

Prince George of Denmark

Departure from Willemoës


1962. Exhibition "PIQUE LA BALEINE at the Château des Ducs for the Musée des Salorges, with the participation of the Musée National d'Anvers.

Exhibition in homage to the navy of Nantes

1963. "A TRIBUTE TO THE NAVY OF NANTES Still at the Château des Ducs, Jean Bruneau presented the prefect, mayor and other VIPs with the various models and other rare items in the exhibition. He also came up with the idea of inviting foreign navies to Nantes for a stopover. Malagasy for the French Navy, the submarine HMS GRAMPUS for the British Navy, the OVERDROTEN for the Dutch Navy, the BREYDEL and the ARTEVELDE for the Belgian Navy. The Bagad de Lann-Bihoué and a flotilla of Bréguet-Alizés completed the show.


In September 1943, Jean Bruneau joined Decré as a decorator, wanting to ensure the day-to-day running of the gallery, something that the life of an artist rarely allowed in the early days. He stayed there for 34 years, during which time he built up and expanded the Galerie d'Art Decré with a variety of exhibitions, especially paintings. In the 55s and early 60s, the attractions he imagined and produced at Christmas time, such as a trip in a horse-drawn cart, a moon rocket, or a trip to the bottom of the ocean, even created queues on the pavements and in the streets around the shop, as the crowds were so eager to attend. Similarly, his nativity scenes and winter decorations with automata delighted a public always eager for nostalgic wonder. Decré's reputation spread throughout the west of France thanks to the cultural exhibitions and the "Breton and Vendée weeks" that he regularly organised. In 1967, the masterful "100 Years of History" exhibition was so successful that it was transferred to Paris.


1967. Por the centenary of Decré department stores.
This exhibition is remarkable for its interest in the press of the period. "In more than 150 panels, from the end of the Second Empire to the Great War, then 39/45 and the Algerian War, a wealth of anecdotes illustrated with rare documents. The two promoters of this dazzling exhibition are Jean Bruneau, a painter from Nantes whose reputation has spread beyond Brittany for many years, and Jean Milhes, a well-known Nantes philatelist and dealer and member of the Chambre Syndicale Française de Philatélie. 

They are to be warmly congratulated on the results of their work, as it seems to be the first time that such a diverse and well-presented retrospective has been so happily exhibited in one of the finest shops in our French Province. The exhibition ran from 16 February to 18 March, and from 16 to 23 March there was a further exhibition in the La Hutte sports shop. "100 YEARS OF SPORTS.

Jean ROBIC winner of the 1947 Tour de France at the 100 years of sport exhibition in Nantes in 1967

WASA exhibition

1970. Exhibition  organised by the Friends of the Musée des Salorges at the Musée des Beaux-Arts. With the participation of the Stockholm Museum.

LA MER exhibition

1973. Once again, Jean Bruneau succeeded in bringing together in an exhibition entitled "THE SEAThe exhibition featured rare items from the museums of Saint-Malo, the Nantes Museum and the French Navy. This exhibition was held in the Decré Art Gallery for the Musée des Salorges.


1977. Exhibition "ANNE DE BRETAGNE at the Château des Ducs, for the Office de Tourisme Syndicat d'Initiative de Nantes (OTSI). It was under Jean Bruneau's direction that the exhibition celebrating the half-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Anne de Bretagne in Nantes was produced, along with a 63-page book entitled "Anne de Bretagne", which was available from the château and the Tourist Office. He had a commemorative plaque affixed to the château to commemorate the birth of Duchess Anne.


1978. The museum came into being thanks to the passionate commitment of Jean Bruneau and Luce Courville, curator of the municipal library.

It was inaugurated on 7 April, and Jean Bruneau illustrated a planisphere that visitors noticed. For the O.T.S.I., where they were available, he had plates that he had created printed in Epinal, retracing the life and work of the great novelist; they can also be purchased at the museum.

To complement the commemorative actions, it illustrates "Jules Verne in Nantes based on texts by Henri Bouyer (Editions du Bois des Dons). For his participation in all the events held in 1978, the town council awarded Jean Bruneau the Jules Verne medal.

Jules Verne book in Nantes

acques CASSARD :

1979. The tercentenary of the birth of Nantes privateer Jacques Cassard was to be celebrated in his home town. The O.T.S.I. printed a picture of the famous sailor drawn by Jean Bruneau, and based the publication of its annual brochure on the history of Cassard and life in the port of Nantes in the 18th century. Nantes historian Armel de Wismes asked Jean Bruneau to illustrate his book "Jacques Cassard". It will be published at the end of 79 by Editions du Bois des Dons, and the city is already thinking about a Cassard monument on the esplanade overlooking the port.


1980.  This beautiful boat, built in Nantes in 1896, was bought by the Caisse d'Epargne in 1979 and moored on a quay on the Seine in Paris. The French capital would like to keep this prestigious historical and tourist asset. Jean Bruneau was approached by the Nantes city council about the question of docking the ship. He went so far as to design a poster that was placed on the doors of many of the city's shops, and that some motorists stuck on their rear windscreens in a small format. Nantes rallies to repatriate its boat.


1981. The 200th anniversary of the birth of René-Théophile LAËNNEC was not to go unnoticed, and Nantes, through the Tourist Office, called on Jean Bruneau. Working with Professor Kernéis on the medical history, he designed this interesting exhibition and produced a four-page spread on the Laënnec family, Dr Ange Guépin and the history of Nantes hospitals. He also designed the medal representing Guillaume and René-Théophile Laënnec, which was presented as an award at receptions for certain personalities.


1981. Around 1978, on the occasion of an exhibition on astronomy at the Palais de la Bourse for the O.T.S.I., Jean Bruneau had a mini planetarium brought over from Germany. The short sessions took place in a darkened room, as if in the depths of the night, and the stars appeared in their chronological movement. Bruneau was seduced, and immediately imagined the enormous educational interest that this represented for schoolchildren, university students and other adults. He told the elected representatives of Nantes, and in particular Eugène Leblanc, whom he knew well, of the importance of such an attraction, and suggested to him that it should be built on the Butte Sainte-Anne next to the future Jules Verne Museum. After a great deal of difficulty and insistence to convince and obtain this construction, the planetarium was finally inaugurated on the planned site in May 1981.


1982. It was under this title that Jean Bruneau drew a series of 4 plates for the O.T.S.I., at the request of the Nantes town council, retracing the history of Nantes' ships and great sailors, the triangular voyage and the much less well known story of Nantes as a whaling port. Presented by Roland Andrieu and Jean-Claude Batard, and supported by a text by Armel de Wismes, this booklet revived the memory of the greatness of Nantes in past centuries, and was a great success.


1983. An original, well-documented brochure with a detailed itinerary for visiting the districts of old Nantes, then Nantes' parks and gardens, followed by the city's museums and various walks in the Nantes vineyards, as well as the recommended walks along the banks of the Erdre. Jean Bruneau has even added a precise chronology of Nantes, complete without being tiresome, going from 55 BC to 1983, the date of publication.


1983. Neptune protects travellers! Nantes' motto speaks for itself: to travel, you need a means of transport. And the city of Nantes, through the Syndicat d'Initiative (tourist information office), has retraced the steps that enabled it to make a name for itself and develop. Under the name of "NANTES TRANSPORT IMAGERY Jean Bruneau devotes one plate to the famous transporter bridge, another to the railway in Nantes, the third to the Nantes tramway, and finally, he illustrates the beginnings of the Nantes wings, making for a highly enjoyable document.


1983. Chis brotherhood was founded in 1948 to promote the wines of the Nantes region. It commissioned Jean Bruneau to design and paint a brochure extolling the values of the Order and Nantes wines, while remaining attached to Anne de Bretagne, known as "la petite Brette", patron saint of the Order of Breton Knights.


1984. That year, Nantes wanted to showcase its botanical heritage. Jean Bruneau, assisted by Dean J.P. Kernéis, a member of the Académie de Marine, to tell the story of the journeys, and by Paul Plantiveau, Director of the Service des Espaces Verts, for the plant history, produced a magnificent brochure entitled "NANTES OVERSEAS BOUQUET recounting the arrival of the first plants from the Americas or the Far East. Visit four plates also presents the history of the Apothecaries' Garden, the Jardin des Plantes and the illustrious Botanists of Nantes who made the development and renown of our city.


1985. Jean Bruneau will draw and colour "NANTES ARCHITECTURE This document includes a chronicle of the cathedral, then of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, plate 3 on the rich architecture of 18th-century Nantes, is followed by a fourth on the architecture of Old Nantes. Georges Evano, chief architect for the city of Nantes, and Yves Steff, urban planning architect for the Nantes Protected Area, add their comments to the author's texts and drawings.


1986. With the aim of raising the profile of the event even higher, the Floralies committee asked Jean Bruneau to create a double colour plate telling the story of this ambitious event. The texts will be by Yves Cosson.


1987. The Floralies Internationales de Nantes committee wanted to advertise its 89 edition in an original way, so it decided to produce a four plates entitled "NANTES IN ITS GARDENS one of the greenest towns in France, where the Service des Espaces Verts (Green Spaces Department) has been headed up by men who have imagined their town's plant future with passion and originality. And it was on the basis of texts by Roland Jancel of the S.E.V.E., Eugène Masson and André Rousseau of the Floralies, that Jean Bruneau produced the plates concerning the Statues of the Jardin des Plantes, the Ile de Versailles, the Coulées Vertes and the Ile Beaulieu. This beautiful brochure will be sent as a greetings card in 1988 to European countries wishing to exhibit at the Nantes Floralies.


As early as the 1950s, Jean Bruneau immediately realised that the rue de l'Hermitage overlooking the Loire would be a popular site for its views over the entire port, so he convinced the town to create a small square and install an orientation table (the local residents called this place "le petit placis"). He succeeded in creating accessible planted areas between the buildings on the street, as well as two gardens planted with trees at either end, one of which now houses the planetarium.

This viewpoint was embellished with flowerbeds, and in 1979 a Jacques Cassard monument conceived, designed and sculpted by Jean Bruneau was installed. Around 2005, Jules Verne statues were added, and in 2006, Jean-Marc AYRAULT, Mayor of Nantes, named the esplanade after Jean Bruneau. Still under Jean Bruneau's impetus, the Butte Sainte Anne was enriched in 1978 by the Jules Verne Museum and in 1981 by the planetarium. In both cases, he succeeded in awakening the city to the merits of these projects.