Ferdinand Cheval (born 1836 in Charmes-sur-l'Herbasse, Drôme, France; died 19 August 1924) was a French postman who spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais idéal (the "Ideal Palace") in Hauterives. The Palace is regarded as an extraordinary example of naïve art architecture.
Palais idéal 
Cheval began the building in April 1879. He claimed that he had tripped on a stone and was inspired by its shape. He returned to the same spot the next day and started collecting stones.
For the next thirty-three years, Cheval picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build the Palais idéal. He spent the first twenty years building the outer walls. At first, he carried the stones in his pockets, then switched to a basket. Eventually, he used a wheelbarrow. He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp.
Cheval also wanted to be buried in his palace. However, since that is illegal in France, he proceeded to spend eight more years building a mausoleum for himself in the Hauterives cemetery. He died on 19 August 1924, about a year after he had finished building it, and is buried there.
Just prior to his death, Cheval began to receive some recognition from luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso. His work is commemorated in an essay by Anaïs Nin. In 1932, the German artist Max Ernst created a collage titled The Postman Cheval. The work belongs to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and is on display there. In 1958, Ado Kyrou made Le Palais idéal, a short film on Cheval's palace.
It is open for visitors every day except Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Pictures of the Palace 
See also 
- Visionary environments
- Simon Rodia
- Friedensreich Hundertwasser
- Bunleua Sulilat
- Nek Chand
- Justo Gallego Martinez
- Bishop Castle
- Watts Towers
- Coral Castle: a self-made stone assemblage in Florida
- Palais Ideal, Hauterives, France: A Fantasy Castle, Unusual Travel Destinations
- Palais Idéal: The postman’s palace, Interesting Thing of the Day, 15 August 2007.
- Mary Blum. "The postman who delivered a palace", New York Times, 3 May 2007
- Becker, Howard S. Art Worlds. University of California Press (1982), pp. 263–64.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ferdinand Cheval|
- Postman Cheval's website in English and French
- Le Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval (requires Flash).
- Expo.htm at perso.wanadoo.fr" Expo Coco Peintre du Facteur Cheval-1987 Hauterives France
- Hauterives and Palais Idéal Photogallery
- Album Mon Cheval, a French blog's photogallery.
- Palais Idéal Ferdinand Cheval (feature article).