Chillon Castle, Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Join a tour, have to keep up. But, if you go on your own, you can stay as long as you like, and find things. Here, start looking at frescoes, wall and ceiling paintings, and heraldry. Some things bowl you over.
A. We found Santa Claus.
Yes. He is not at the North Pole. He is on Lake Geneva, Chillon Castle heraldry room, confronting a big black bear - possibly a Bern image, but what about Santa? Or is that a black dragon? The heraldry Griffon, perhaps, also spelled "Griffin" - see ://www.isidore-of-seville.com/griffins/9.html/. Or Gryphon. There are littler cute griffins or gryphons showing below, black against red griffins there? Who prevailed: it looks like the red griffin is bottom up. It looks like waves around, or big winds, black and white again and the red Santa. For heraldry, start at ://www.heraldicsculptor.com/heraldry.html/.
Back to Chillon: Find a clue: "Frederic de Gingins." Who? This is really odd.
First, Santa: No clue from our fast look-ups. But it is there. Hoax?
1. Frederic de Gingins as Baron de Gingins, whose name apppears beneath some unusual (anachronistic?) heraldry in the heraldry hall at Chillon Castle, Switzerland. He is in a google book now, at "Historic Studies in Vaud, Berne and Savoy; from Roman Times to Voltaire, Rousseau and Gibbon" by an English General Meredith Read (family connections to America, Virginia; Civil War era accomplishments noted) at ://www.archive.org/stream/historicstudies00readgoog/historicstudies00readgoog_djvu.txt/ This is full of Gingins references - skimmed for Santa or a Saint Nicholas or something, did not find. But long long history of Ginginses.
All that is fine, but when and why and how the Santa? As a Vaudois nobleman, he is listed as Frederic Gingins-La-Sarra, 1790-1863, or La Sarraz (see Author Index at ://fmg.ac/MGR/Indices/Sources/Authors/Links/G.htm/), a historian specializing in medieval times who sometimes went beyond his documents to make something what he wanted it to say, see ://1911encyclopedia.org/Switzerland/. Antoine-Charles de Gingins. Ancestry.com has an 1859 geneology you can order. Is Santa home? Part of the Sires de Montfaucon comtes de Montbeliard.
2. There is a "Christmas Market" in Montreux, town just down from Chillon Castle (is it in Montreux?), but that looks modern, but then again so does this odd Santa, see ://switzerland-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/visit_the_romantic_montreux_christmas_market/ The heraldry is a hoax? Ok. Here is a long history of Switzerland: at ://1911encyclopedia.org/Switzerland/ No mention.
3. This is not St. Nicolas of Myra, patron saint of children, see ://www.civicheraldry.co.uk/ecclesiastical.html/ and there are no ecclesiastical hats or flock hooks here either. See also ://www.civicheraldry.com/page/7297/ Swiss civic heraldry is indexed at ://www.civicheraldry.com/region/switzerland/ Have not been through them all.
B. And a Black Madonna at Chillon.
We found a Black Madonna. This time, up high.
We have seen free-standing paintings of Black Madonnas, and statues. There are many, and varied in explanations and places in Europe, and, we understand, elsewhere in the New World. See, an outdated, but good for a start, our collection at an earlier time at Europe Road Ways, Themes, Black Madonnas.
Here we find our first Black Madonna painting on a ceiling, a ceiling fresco, or, perhaps, it is just a painting there. Fresco, on the other hand, is a special technique, that means painting on wet plaster so it lasts a long time - we don't know which this Chillon ceiling painting is. Fresco: see the Italians who were especially good at it, at ://www.italianfrescoes.com/frescoTechnique.asp.
Here is the Black Madonna we found at Chillon Castle: