History of Artists and the French Riviera

29th November, 2017
At the close of the 19th century, the French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur attracted a number of artists, who were drawn in by the beauty of the landscape and the inspirational colours, light and climate of the area. We take a look at some of the most famous examples:  

Paul Cézanne

Leading the artistic move to the French Riviera was Paul Cézanne, in the early 1880s. Cézanne, an artist born in the South of France, was one of the leading contributors to the Post-Impressionist era of art. He is credited with producing the work that paved the way for the emergence of modernism in the 20th century.  

Pablo Picasso

As one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Picasso pioneered the practice of Cubism and collage, as well as contributing to Surrealism. While primarily a painter, Picasso also made significant steps in the world of sculpture, printmaking and ceramics. In 1919, Pablo Picasso spent his summer on the Côte d’Azur, and he returned every year until 1939. Picasso was not able to let the French Riviera go though and moved back there permanently in 1946, where he stayed until his death in 1973.  

A recent auction saw Picasso’s French Riviera mansion, known as Mas de Notre Dame de Vie, sold for $24 million. The mansion, where the artist lived and used as a studio between 1961 and 1973, features gardens designed by Picasso himself.  

Henri Matisse

Regarded as the greatest colourist of the 20th century, Matisse was a Post-Impressionist artist who grew to prominence as the leader of the French art movement, Fauvism. His work held a focus on nude portraits and still life paintings, incorporating bold and bright colours. In 1917, Matisse moved to Nice, living in a number of hotels and villas in the area, before settling in an apartment in 1921. In 1938, he moved back to a hotel; Hôtel Régina in the hills of Cimiez. The rooms that he occupied as his home and studio had been designed specifically for Queen Victoria, who had previously been a frequent visitor of the French Riviera.  

Pierre-Auguste Renoir
A French Impressionist painter, known for his depictions of Parisian life at the end of the 19th century. In his later works, he began to experiment with Renaissance style ideas and practices. After visiting Grasse, Cannes and Beaulieu, Renoir finally settled down in Cagnes-sur-Mer in 1907. It was here that he bought a farm, where he built a house and workshop for himself on the land. He stayed on the farm, continuing to paint there, until his death in 1919. The house is now open as a museum.  

If you want to get inspired like these artists by the Côte d’Azur, check out the range of French Riviera villa holidays available with Quality Villas.