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Posts tagged ‘St-Paul de Vence’

Art on the Riviera: The Fondation Maeght

There can be no doubting the significance of the French Riviera to the history of modern art. Since the time of the Impressionists, the Riviera has been inspiring artists with its incredible light and the potency of its colours. Renoir lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer, Picasso in Antibes, Cezanne in Aix, Fernand Leger in Biot and Matisse in Nice, and surrounding them a seemingly relentless flow of visiting and other artists came to the Riviera in turn. The result is an artistic heritage which is almost unrivalled by other European regions.

Amongst the many artist-museums which consequently pepper the area, the Fondation Maeght is amongst the most important. Located only minutes from La Colombe d’Or, the foundation was entirely conceived and financed by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght to present modern and contemporary art in all its forms. Painters and sculptors collaborated closely in the realisation of this Foundation with Catalan architect Lluís Sert by creating frequently monumental works integrated into the building and gardens: the Giacometti courtyard, one of the world’s most famous ‘in-situ’ works, the Miró labyrinth filled with sculptures and ceramics, the mural mosaics by Chagall and Tal-Coat, and the pool and stained glass window by Braque.

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When we ventured to the foundation after some hours languishing by the Calder mobile of La Colombe’s pool, we were somewhat disappointed by the extent of the famed collection. Entire galleries were given over to temporary exhibitions, with only one room seemingly devoted to a permanent collection. However, we could not deny being impressed by the gardens, so sumptuously saturated in art, densely packed under the canopy of a pine-tree forest. There amongst the faded light, a labyrinth collated from sculptures by Miro formed unique and startling silhouettes against a stormy sky, and as the earth rumbled with a humid thunderstorm, the atmosphere seemed charged with the almost surreal atmosphere created by these sculpted forms.

More than 200,000 visitors come each year to the Maeght Foundation, which has put on over 100 monographic or thematic exhibitions since its opening. We were perhaps unlucky to visit when only a fraction of the permanent collection was on display, but for the uniquely conceived art of its gardens, it lived up to its fame. The photos in this post show the best of the incredible outside installations permanently on display.

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The Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d’Or

I knew that staying at La Colombe d’Or would inspire me. It wasn’t just that it happens to be stationed in one of the most exquisite locations in all of the French Riviera, but it has also inspired countless of the world’s most famous modern artists, and I wasn’t going to be the exception. So armed with my handy box of gouache paints, brushes and using the Colombe d’Or’s ashtray for water (sorry Colombe!) I set about painting what most inspired me. And from the very first morning, when I awoke to find light flooding into our bedroom, the rays dancing and undulating as they reflected across from the swimming pool right outside the room, I knew what I would have to paint.

The work which resulted is this one, the first in my Honeymoon Suite series. The painting depicts not only the effect of the light entering through a quaint wooden window into our pastel-coloured room, but also the proximity of the Alexander Calder mobile, and the Braque mosaic, just outside our room, which never failed to excite me. In  the foreground is the little desk which I used to paint this very same painting, breathing the cypress-perfumed air which wafted through the window as I did so.

Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d'Or (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Honeymoon Suite I: Bedroom at La Colombe d’Or (2015 © Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, gouache on paper)

Like so many artists who went before me, I could have stayed in the Colombe d’Or to paint forever.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown 2000-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included on this website without express and written permission from Nicholas de Lacy-Brown is strictly prohibited. For more information on the work of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown, head to his art website at

The Honeymoon Chronicles, Part I: La Colombe d’Or

To say that my wedding and the honeymoon which followed was a whirlwind of emotions would be no exaggeration. Within minutes of cutting our sensational ombre wedding cake in Chelsea, we were whisked off in the old fashioned style, straight to our honeymoon, leaving our guests behind, and sadly no tied up cans trailing our vehicle. Our destination was the French Riviera, and with only further wedding cake to keep post-wedding hangovers at bay, we tried to prepare ourselves mentally for this further change in circumstances as we were whisked through the night to the South of France.


Our arrival in the tiny village of Saint-Paul de Vence near Nice could not have been more different from the city we had departed. Utterly at peace, with a distinctive fragrance of pines and cypresses freshening the air. As darkness had already descended, the village was permeated by little yellow street lamps, subtly illuminating the central plaza where pétanque balls lay in wait for the following day’s play. And amidst the darkness, one sign glowed more than any other: Lighting a golden dove on a blue and yellow sky, it was the sign of La Colombe d’Or – we had arrived.

Our bedroom at La Colombe d’Or

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La Colombe d’Or (the golden dove) is a legendary destination in the South of France. First opened in the 1920s by Paul and Baptistine Roux, it began life as a quaint little inn nestled against the magnificent ancient ramparts of the village of Saint-Paul de Vence. Its stunning garden terrace abundant in shady fig trees together with its cosy restaurant interior soon began to attract a faithful clientele, and as the French Riviera became progressively more a centre for thinkers and artists, so too did La Colombe become a gathering place for the crème of the artistic set.

Around the pool and in the gardens

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As the years went on, and the Roux family continued to welcome and befriend some of the world’s most famous artists and intellectuals, so too did La Colombe’s remarkable collection of modern art grow, much of which was swapped in exchange for accommodation and their famously delicious Provençal cuisine. So La Colombe d’Or grew, both physically (gradually subsuming neighbouring buildings) and reputationally, and its art collection today stands as one of the most staggering private collections of modern art you could ever hope to see. On its walls, original works by Picasso, Braque, Sonia Delaunay, Calder, Miro, Chagall, Cesar and so many others hang; its leafy terrace is dominated by a stunning ceramic mural by Fernand Leger; and its most stunning swimming pool languishes alongside a remarkable Calder Mobile, a mosaic by Braque, and a recently installed ceramic mural by Sean Scully.

Interiors, and La Colombe’s incredible collection of modern art

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For any enthusiast of 20th century art, or indeed for anyone beloved of the utmost aesthetic tranquility, La Colombe d’Or is a paradise on earth, beyond mere description – it has to be experienced. In the unpretentious little chairs which are clustered on its restaurant terrace, one can see the ghosts of the famous writers and artists who used to sit there in the shadows of the fig trees Jacques Prévert, Yves Montand, James Baldwin, Pablo Picasso… In the unapologetically rustic walls and furniture, you feel as though invited into the warmest of family homes. And in its paradisal gardens, fringed by pillars and scattered with fallen blossom, and alongside that most sensational of swimming pools, you feel as though you have entered some kind of parallel world. Utterly at peace. This was paradise found.

La Colombe’s stunningly cosy restaurant terrace

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And so in La Colombe d’Or, we happily stationed ourselves for the first four days of our honeymoon. And so the rush of emotions which had commenced at our wedding continued. It was to be the most sensational few days imaginable.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.