Tucked away in the shadows of Cagnes-sur-Mer and hidden behind mighty olive trees lies the master impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Les Collettes. This rustic estate along with an imposing farmhouse, a delicate garden, olive and orange groves contains some of the French artist’s possessions.
Renoir developed arthritis in his 50s. Seeking warmth, he moved with his family to the Mediterranean good life of the French Riviera. The mild climate and spirited colors of the Mediterranean attracted not just him, but many other celebrated sons of the art. Renoir never stopped painting and even at the wake of his physical ordeals he continued on and attempted sculpture. Les Collettes is where he spent the last 12 years of his life and it is here that he painted some of his unforgettable female nudes.
Now a museum, art devotees and visitors are able to stroll in the space in which Renoir once inhabited. On that balmy afternoon, I came as close in contact as I ever will be with this great master. I walked through his halls like a welcomed guest, looked out the same windows and the never-changing views. I gazed at the cold walls now graced with some of his finest works and at his inspiring atelier I stood in reverence.
At Les Collettes he took his final breath but Renoir the painter, Immortalized.
* Notice: Renoir Museum is now closed to the public for restoration work and will be open again on 26 July 2013. During this closure, Renoir’s collective works of art and other collectibles from the museum are being displayed at the Château-Musée Grimaldi in the medieval village of Haute-de-Cagnes.
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