Like moths to a flame, artists have gravitated toward Provence’s vivid sunlight and vibrant landscape for centuries.

The painters are:

Paul Cezanne born in Aix, where he lived most of his life ( 1839 -1906). He painted hundreds of oil and watercolour scenes of his home town and the nearby Mont Sainte -Victoire in his own post impressionist style. He really captured the soul of Provence. His great grand daughter Aline Cezanne lives in Saint Francisco and is a friend of mine.

Vincent van Gogh the Dutch  master ( 1854 – 1890) created hundreds of his vivid powerful landscapes and self portraits during his years in St- Remy and Arles. The sunshine of Provence really changed the way the painter saw light and colour.

Pablo Piccasso was the driving force behind the Cubist movement, ( 1881-1973) Picasso was influenced by the sights and colours of Provence, where he lived in exile from his native Spain most of his life. He learned to make ceramics from the potters of Vallauris and helped to revive the craft.

Henry Matisse ( 1859 – 1954), lived in Nice from 1917 until his death. his paintings were inspired by the vivid light and the colours of the Riviera. During world war two he retreated to Vence, where he designed the Chapelle du Rosaire, including its beautiful vestments and furnishings.

Marc Chagall the Russian-born painter ( 1887-1985), moved to St-Paul-de-Vence in 1949. His light-filled work included biblical messages and the paintings are in the Musee National Message Biblique Marc Chagall in Nice.

Fernand Leger ( 1881-1955) is well known for his strong cubic paintings and his love for bold lines and pure and primary colours.

Raoul Dufy ( 1877-1955) embodies the values of the fauvist school wits its intense use of bright, intense colour. Nice was his favorite background for his vivid work.

Paul Gigniou. ( 1834 -71) painted sunny landscapes of his native Vaucluse, capturing the pure light of Provence‘s rugged hillsides. Les deux lavandieres devant la Sainte-Victoire , one of his best  known works, is on display in the Musee Grobet-Labadie in Marseilles.

The writers:

Frederic Mistral, This Nobel prize -winner ( 1830 -1941) wrote epic poems based on local lore.

Alexandre Dumas ( 1802 – 1870) used the Chateau d’If as the grim backdrop of his well-known book, The count of Monte Cristo.

Victor Hugo ( 1802 – 1885) set the early chapters of his epic novel  Les Miserables (1862) in Dignes-les-Bains

Albert Camus, the French author and existentialist ( 1913 – 1960) wrote his autobiography in Lourmarin, Luberon.

Alphonse Daudet  ( 1849 -1897) is remembered for Tartarin de Tarascon, the tale of a Provencal bumpkin.

Graham Greene, the English novelist ( 1914 – 1991) retired to Nice where he wrote ” J’Accuse”, the dark side of Nice.

Ernest Hemingway, Another visitor from the US to Provence, Hemingway ( 1898 -1961) set the Garden of Eden in Napoule.

Marcel Pagnol, one of my favorite  was an author and film director ( 1895 -1974) wrote L’eau des Collines ( 1963) and later filmed Jean des Florettes and Manon des Sources.

Colette ( 1873 – 1954) wrote about Saint-Tropez in La Naissance du jour ( 1928).

F Scott Fitzgerald. The US writer ( 1896 – 1940) stayed at Juan -Les -Pins in 1926 to write his novel, Tender is the Night.

Anne Suire

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