Le Pouldu est une station balnéaire créée dans les années 1860, dans le Finistère sud.
Marie Henry (1859-1945), ur vaouez dizalc'h

Marie Henry (1859-1945), an independent woman

Logo Bretagne

An emblematic woman of the Quimperlé region, Marie Henry is famous for having welcomed the painters of the Pont-Aven school into her inn: Paul Gauguin, Paul Sérusier, Meijer de Haan, Charles Filiger and Maxime Maufra... But who is she? We caught up with Mallaurie Charles, co-founder of L'Artère, a creative centre in Quimperlé, to find out more...

As part of her master's degree in gender studies at the University of Angers, she dedicated her dissertation to her: « Marie Henry (1859-1945) : Une bretonne en quête d’émancipation », in which she paints a portrait of her through the prism of gender!


Marie Henry's story begins in Moëlan-sur-Mer, rue du Cimetière, in 1859.

She grew up with her parents, Phillibert Henry and Marie-Anne Daniel, and her older brother, Julien François Marie. Her mother was a day labourer and her father worked as a butcher in a tavern for their neighbour, Yves Caëric. At the age of 7, she was orphaned and placed with the Ursulines until she was 18, where she developed her skills as a lingerie maker, embroiderer and seamstress.

Chapelle des Ursulines à Quimperlé, Monument Historique.

An active life

On leaving the Ursulines, she took control of her life and found work at Maison Ogliati, an upmarket patisserie in Quimperlé, where she was probably in contact with prominent members of the Quimperloise bourgeoisie.

She was then placed as a linen embroiderer in a Parisian fashion house. It was a position of responsibility, a job of trust that enabled her to learn the codes of the Parisian bourgeoisie.

It is said that she returned to Quimperlé in the summer of 1886 to build her house. She moved to Le Pouldu the following summer and became pregnant in the summer of 1888 with a young man from a middle-class Quimper background. This did not stop her in her plans: she opened her inn in 1888.

La LaÏta se jette dans l'océan entre Le Pouldu et Guidel.

The Inn at Le Pouldu

The Buvette de la Plage was born and mainly welcomed the seaweed harvesters and sand dredgers who docked at Le Pouldu, before making their way to Quimperlé. Marie Henry's lover died of tuberculosis, and she was left alone to give birth to their daughter, Marié Léa Henry, in her inn.

After leaving Pont-Aven, the painters took up residence at Marie Henry's inn in the autumn of 1889. This location allowed them to explore their artistic potential, and they covered the entire surface of the dining room, which can still be seen today.

It was at this time that Marie Henry met Meijer de Haan, who was to become her second lover. For family reasons caused by Paul Gauguin, he left the inn in October 1890 and never returned. Marie Henry gave birth to her second daughter, Ida Henry, in June 1891.

La Maison-Musée Gauguin est un lieu de visite apprécié au Pouldu

Back to the roots

In November 1893, Marie Henry moved to Moëlan-sur-Mer with a middle-class man, Henri Mothéré. She built her new house on the tip of Clec'h Burtul in Kerfany, where she would store all the works given to her by the painters.

As for the works by Paul Gauguin, which she would acquire, she would sell them in a gallery rented by her neighbour, the fashion designer Paul Poiret. As a result, she moved from the working class to the bourgeoisie.

Marie Henry ensured that her two daughters received a solid education, and both became teachers. She spent the last years of her life at La Passiflore, the home of her first daughter, a few kilometres from Toulon.

Plage de Kerfany Les Pins à Moëlan-sur-Mer, sur le GR34
Carnet de voyage
Peseurt amzer a vo graet gantañ ? What's the weather going to be like?
Wind : km/h
Wind : km/h
Wind : km/h
Wind : km/h
The day after tomorrow
Wind : km/h
Wind : km/h