Jean-Baptiste-Charle-Camille Renault was a cook apprentice. His job would lead him to great Parisian restaurants. He married in 1898, and would have several children. One of his sons was killed during the First World War. Camille Renault kept his desire to undertake new activities and became alternately a grocer, a trader with rabbit skin, a mill keeper, a pig breeder and a farmer. At that period he also began pottery and sculpting. In Attigny, in the Ardennes, he opened a hotel, in which he would organize concerts. In the 1930s he lost his other son because of pneumonia and shortly after his wife of the same illness. In 1934 his house burned down. To ward off ill fortune, Renault built a new house, the so-called "villa Jismonde", surrounded by his "Garden of Surprises", peopled with cement sculptures representing generals, a parish priest, a wheelbarrow maker, lions, bears, sheep, wild boars, etc. In June 1940 Renault had to escape from the Ardennes to eastern Pyrenees and Spain. When he came back in September of the same year, he found his house plundered and his sculptures destroyed by the Germans. Again, he would rebuild his house and his garden. After his death, the house with the garden was ransacked. Only a few sculpted pieces have been preserved.
SEE ALSO :
Publications de la Collection de l’Art Brut, fascicule 14. Text by Pascal Sigoda. Lausanne, 1986.