France | Brittany

The wheelwright

This may well be one of the world’s oldest professions, since it goes back to the invention of the wheel! The wheelwright was more or less the village expert for all rolling wooden objects. His trade included making carts, wagons, wheelbarrows and other similar objects. The wheelwright would employ various woods, like oak, which was prized for its strength. To make a cart, the wheelwright would generally cut a single tree into a longeron — a long beam measuring several metres that served as the vehicle’s basis.

[peinture #00341]
Village Wheelwright Making a Hoop
The village wheelwright made wooden barrel hoops. He made carts and did all sorts of manual work. Frédéric had taken refuge with the village priest. At the time, he was supposed to go to Germany for compulsory service in a factory. Since he spoke German, there was a risk that he might "be stuck in a uniform and sent to Russia."
France, Brittany, Ille-et-Vilaine, Saint-Melaine
Sketch, gouache, on Ingres paper
Credit: Frédéric Back
More Info