From 1830 to 1930, Crozant and the Creuse Valley attracted hundreds of landscape artists, mainly Impressionists, and thus in 1864, a « Crozant School of Art » was created. The valley’s colourful, hilly landscape was an ideal subject for artists.
Many artists came to Lépinat Hotel, in the town centre. Monet himself was a guest here before settlling down in nearby Fresselines. Armand Guillaumin, Léon Detroy, Paul Madeline, Eugène Alluaud, Ernest-Victor Hareux and the extremely original Francis Picabia are some of the famous artists who stayed here.
Lépinat hotel was an extremely important place for Impressionists. It was comparable to Gloanec boarding house in Pont Aven, Ravoux Inn in Auvers-sur- Oise and Saint Siméon farm in Honfleur.
Artists would take the train to Saint Sébastien station. Upon arrival, they were driven to Crozant by horse-carriages. Evenings at Lépinat Hotel were lively with discussions between artists. After a long and lonely workday, the warm and friendly atmosphere was greatly appreciated. They enjoyed spending time together even if they were not all part of the same artistic movement. An example : Impressionist Arnaud Guillamin was good friends with Charles Hallé, whose style of painting was very academic.
Some artists left a trace of their presence by painting panels and doors, to thank their host Mme Lépinat for her hospitality. She ran the hotel with the help of her husband and son. Her charm and friendliness were immortalized by Ernest Hareux in an 1890 portrait.
The old hotel recently became a museum, with a fun and modern set design : a mutimedia journey through the history of Creuse Valley painters, between the regions of Berry and Limousin.