The Musée des Augustins is a fine arts museum in Toulouse which conserves a collection of sculpture and paintings from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. The paintings are from throughout France, the sculptures representing Occitan culture of the region with a particularly rich assemblage of Romanesque sculpture.
The building in which the museum is sited was built in 1309 in the Gothic style and prior to the French Revolution housed Toulouse's Augustinian convent. The convent was secularized in 1793 and first opened to the public as a museum in 1795, making it one of the oldest museums in France after the Louvre.
The French schools of the 15th to 18th centuries are represented in the painting collection by Philippe de Champaigne, Louise Moillon, Valentin de Boulogne, Sébastien Bourdon etc, as well as painters from Toulouse and its region, such as Nicolas Tournier. Many French 19th- and 20th-century painting are also represented, with works by Toulouse-Lautrec, Ingres, Delacroix and Manet. The painting collection also includes works by Spanish, Dutch and Italian artists. The Italian holdings span from the 14th to the 18th century with works by Neri di Bicci, Lorenzo Monaco, Pietro Perugino, Jacopo Zucchi, Guido Reni, Guercino, Bernardo Strozzi, Baciccio, Carlo Maratta, Crespi, Francesco Solimena, Guardi. Flemish and Dutch painting is represented with paintings by Cornelis van Haarlem, Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Jan van Goyen, Aelbert Cuyp, Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Cornelis van Poelenburgh while for Spain the museum notably displays one painting by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo.
The museum's sculpture collection is in large part due to the rescue activities of antiquaries and museum curators such as Alexandre du Mège who managed to extricate sculpture from the frequent destruction of religious buildings that marked the 19th century. It is particularly strong in 12th-century Romanesque sculpture from the city's three main religious buildings - the priory of Notre-Dame de la Daurade, the basilica of Saint-Sernin and the cathedral of Saint-Étienne. It also includes many 14th and 15th century locally-produced sculptures and eight 16th century terracotta figures from the chapelle de Rieux, built around 1340 in the couvent des Cordeliers, as well as gargoyles from the same convent. It also houses 19th century sculpture, with plaster works by Alexandre Falguière and his pupil Antonin Mercié, as well as works by Rodin and a bronze by Camille Claudel.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.