The world’s most famous artists – from Henri Matisse to Jack Vettriano – have chosen to make the Riviera their home. In the fourth of a five-part blog series, we investigate what it is about this strip of sun-drenched coastline that inspired these great artists – and where they spent their time in the region.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born in the French city of Limoges in 1841. He may have developed into one of the world’s foremost Impressionist painters. But Renoir began his artistic career delicately decorating the porcelain for which his region was so renowned.
However it wasn’t long until the master was accruing international accolades. Pals with Claude Monet and Paul Cézanne, Renoir attracted the attention of royalty in 1882, when Queen Victoria herself requested a selection of his dreamy paintings.
As Renoir reached his early 60s, his arthritis forced him to seek a clement climate in order to continue his work. Exploring the Southern French coast at length, he and his family were charmed by the seaside village of Cagnes-sur-Mer. Les Collettes – which became their family home – was perched atop the hills just outside of town. Citrus trees and olive groves (the latter said to be close to 1,000 years old) trim the property. Truth be told, we wouldn’t mind moving in next door…
Renoir adored painting the Riviera’s sun-kissed landscapes. He also found the robust folk that populated the region – many of them hired help at Les Collettes – to be ideal models for his artwork.
Over recent years, Les Collettes has been completely renovated, reopening to the public in 2013. The family home-turned-museum and surrounding gardens have been restored to their original layout. There’s a small selection of sculptures, paintings and photographs on display, but Renoir’s studio is undoubtedly the star, set up as it was when the great master lived and worked here.
Musée Renoir 19 chemin des Collettes, Cagnes-sur-Mer. Tel 04 93 20 61 07.
Open June to Sept daily 10am–1pm and 2-6pm (gardens open 10am-6pm); April and May Wed-Mon 10am–1pm and 2-6pm; Oct-Mar Wed-Mon 10am-noon and 2-5pm.
Admission €6 adults, free for visitors under 26 years old.