59. Anonymous French, 19th century

The Weeping Rock, Franchard Gorge, Fontainebleau Forest

Although its bright pink and yellow colours are rather unusual, an inscription on the back of this anonymous study identifies the motif as La Roche qui pleure – a rock-face whose constantly dripping water was believed to have the ability to cure eye ailments. It is located in the Franchard Gorge, an area of the forest of Fontainebleau famed for its sandstone boulders of remarkable shapes. The ‘weeping rock’ had been a site of pilgrimage every Whit Tuesday thanks to the miraculous properties of its water. In the nineteenth century, however, the pious visitors were replaced with artists and leisure-seekers, and the first walking guides of the forest were published. From 1849, the railway arrived in Fontainebleau, allowing Parisians to visit on day trips. Numerous early photographic postcards of La Roche qui pleure attest to its lasting popularity, and the site has since gone through several interventions to revert the erosion caused by tourism.