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An art tour of the French Riviera

An art tour of the French Riviera

An art tour of the French Riviera

Art is a great source of inspiration for my writing, and so I am very fortunate that my French home is located on the Riviera, which has attracted so many wonderful artists. Here is a look at the stunning scenery, the vibrant Mediterranean colours and the beautiful light of the Cote d’Azur, as encapsulated by the artists who fell in love with this special place.

Paul Cezanne

Aix-en-Provence, near Marseilles, was the birthplace and home of French artist Cezanne (1839–1906). He was a Post-Impressionist whose works heavily influenced many great artists, including Matisse and Picasso. In Aix, he painted the famous Mont Sainte-Victoire series depicting the scenery around the city. Here is Mont Sainte-Victoire with Large Pine (c. 1887):

Claude Monet

Monet (1840–1926), a founder of French Impressionism, stayed in Antibes, between Nice and Cannes, for several months in 1888. During that time, he painted 40 landscapes inspired by the views, trying to capture, as he put it, ‘sweetness itself, white, pink and blue, all enveloped in this magical air’. Here is Antibes (1888):

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

Impressionist pioneer Renoir (1841–1919) moved to Cagnes-sur-Mer, near Nice, in his later years, in the hope that the warm climate would help with his arthritis. Today, you can visit his farmhouse to see his studio, along with 15 original paintings and 40 sculptures. Here is a glimpse of how Renoir saw this picturesque part of the world, in his Cagnes Landscape 1910 01 (1910):

Paul Signac

Signac (1863–1935) was a French artist who, with Georges Seurat, developed the Pointillist style. Having grown up in the city of Paris, Signac was drawn to the coast, and he eventually bought a home in St Tropez, which became a meeting place for fellow artists. Here is one of his many paintings of the St Tropez area, called simply Port de Saint-Tropez (1899):

Henri Matisse 

Matisse (1869–1954) was one of the friends who came to stay with Signac at his cottage in St Tropez. While there, he painted Luxe, Calme et Volupté, which is regarded as a pivotal work and the beginning of Fauvism. Matisse was so inspired by the Riviera that he subsequently moved to Nice, and spent the last 40 years of his life painting there. Here is Luxe, Calme et Volupté (1904), which translates to Luxury, Peace and Pleasure:

Pablo Picasso 

In 1946, Spanish artist Picasso (1881–1973), co-founder of Cubism, was invited to stay at the Chateau Grimaldi in Antibes. There, he created 23 paintings and 44 drawings. He so loved the area that he came to live in Vallauris, a little way out of Cannes, between 1948 and 1955, and he spent his final years, from 1961 to 1973, in Mougins, just above Vallauris. At the Chateau Grimaldi, now the Picasso Museum, on Antibes seafront, you can see Picasso’s Antibes works, including this, La Joie de Vivre (The Joy of Life; 1946):

Marc Chagall

After the Second World War, the Cote d’Azur had developed a reputation as an artistic hub, and in 1948 Russian-French artist Chagall (1887–1985) made his home there, in the medieval hilltop town of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a little way up the coast and inland from Antibes. In 1973, he opened the Musée Marc Chagall in Nice, a museum full of his works on a religious theme. It’s a really beautiful place, full of light and colour. Here is a mosaic at the museum, set beside a pond so that the colours are reflected in a dreamy way:

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