Sunday, April 19, 2015

Caumont Art Center Opens in Aix May 6

The new Caumont Art Center opens in Aix on May 6, with a major show featuring 60 works by Venetian master Canaletto (1697-1768). The show, called Canaletto--Roma, London, Venice: The Triumph of Light, runs until September 13, 2015.

Sixty paintings and drawings from international public and private collections will present the artist through all the different phases of his career. 

The Caumont Art Center (officially called Caumont Centre d’Art) was conceived to celebrate and promote a wide range of fine arts and is a major opening for this city of of 143,000, the birthplace of Paul Cézanne (1839–1906).

Each year, the Center will stage two major temporary exhibits devoted to the grand masters of art history from the 14th to the 20th century.  A summer exhibit will be dedicated to the re-discovery of great masters from a new angle. A winter exhibit will reveal treasures from private collections or from internationally renowned museums. The exhibit space comprises eight rooms, totaling 400 square meters.

The mansion itself, known as the Hôtel de Caumont and built in 1715, is located in the Mazarin neighbourhood, the southern, aristocratic quarter of Aix. Built "between court and garden,” it represents an architectural style that first appeared in Paris in the 16th century…a château and park on an urban scale. Four elements characterize the layout: the gate, the courtyard, the main building and the garden, taking visitors from public to private spaces. It was built on a square plot, with the main building to the northeast, the cour d'honneur to the northwest, an enclosed garden on the southeast and servants quarters (with an outer courtyard) on the southwest. In Aix, this type of construction disappeared in 1680, after which mansions were built on street-front sites, distinguishing them from the Parisian style.  The Hôtel de Caumont’s design, unlike anything in Aix, is considered an excellent example of French 18th-century architecture. The carriage gate, façade and wrought iron bannister are of such high quality that they were listed in a supplementary inventory for Monuments Historiques in 1925. The entire mansion was listed in 1987.

Compared to the exterior façade, the interior is much more elaborately decorated and demonstrates a mix of the Regency and Louis XV styles. More info on the architecture, design and furnishings appears on the Caumont website.

In addition to the temporary exhibits, a 20-minute film dedicated to Paul Cézanne (1839- 1906) will be screened daily in a 100-seat auditorium.  "Cézanne in the Aix Region" follows the career of the great Post-Impressionist painter who died of pneumonia in Aix in 1906 and is buried in the Saint-Pierre Cemetery.

The Art Center will also host concerts, dance performances, readings and lectures. It’s also available for private functions, meetings and social events.

Facilities include a bookstore, the ground-floor Café Caumont (open daily for breakfast, afternoon tea and sweets, with a terrace overlooking the French gardens) and the Lounge Bar Caumont, open Tuesday to Saturday evenings.

Caumont is operated by Culturespaces, which oversees 14 important French sites, museums and monuments such as the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild (Saint Jean Cap Ferrat),  the Carrieres des Lumieres and Château des Baux (Les Baux)  and the Roman Theatre in Orange.

Located at #3, rue Joseph Cabassol, the Caumont Art Center is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm (October to April) and until 7 pm (April to October).

For all the info, click HERE.

Photos:  (1) The mansion housing the museum was built in 1715. (2) Canaletto's "Le Bucentaure de retour au Môle, le jour de l’Ascension." (3) Canaletto's "Caprice avec des ruines classiques et des bâtiments de la Renaissance
." (4) Restoration work on the mansion took 18 months. (5) Detail of ironwork adorning the balcony. (6) Cafe Caumont. (7) The "Chambre de Madame." (8) There are three paintings in the show not by Canaletto: two by Bellotto and one by Guardi. This is Bellotto's "Venise : Caprice avec une maison sur la lagune."


  1. Thank you for sharing this - can't wait to go!

  2. How stunning and delightful beyond words Julie! The artistry, that ironworks, everywhere on looks, is a gem!

    The Arts by Karena

    1. Cherry on the cake: right across the street of the Caumont Arts Centre is the excellent English bookstore Book-in-Bar. Don't miss it.

    2. Thanks for this bookstore recommendation.



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