Chez Renoir

Musée Renoir reouverture facade

Musée Renoir.

Most artist’s museums offer a thorough insight into their career and stylistic development but few offer a personal glimpse into how they lived, Renoir’s home in Cagnes Sur Mére does just that.  Set above the Riviera-sprawl it offers the visitor a vista of a bygone Côte d’Azure  when farms and olive groves rippled over the sun drenched landscape with views to the fortified villages above and the glittering sea below.

Musee-Renoir farm sideThe  farm building on the Mediterranean plot the Renoir’s bought  in 1907 as rheumatoid athrititis advanced crippling the artist.

Renoir Les Colettes

One of the garden views.

IMG_9670which Renoir obviously painted.

I say this because as you walk around his home and garden Renoir’s passion for life, his celebration of the everyday, his love of family spill over you.  IMG_9677

Renoir’s wife sculpted in rose hat detail in collaboration with a young artist who helped him create sculptures by working the clay under his instruction.

IMG_9675lovely isn’t she.

he didn’t let his increasing
disability hold him back, his washerwoman makes the mundane monumental.


As you come up to the house under THAT sky it is pristine in the sunlight, facing down to the bay and across the valley.




as painted by Renoir with his grand children playing.

Once inside obviously the paintings were sublime, but what really struck me  was the interior.  Mme Renoir created a home for her ailing husband – naturally along with the the perfect artist’s studio –  in the latest Art Nouveau style.   Here their collection of elegant antiques sits amidst beautifully detailed architecture in a strikingly fresh turn of the century interior complete with all mod-cons. Walking through the space you can hear the skirts rustle, baths run and family meals at the table.

Shall we go in?

The entrance leading into the kitchen, both flooded by light and with graceful arched windows.  The front kitchen is a family room, the photo below re-imagines Renoir à table.

Renoir kitchen

The latest Thonet chairs alongside the traditional parquet and farmhouse table complete with Renoir painted plates in the dresser, he started his career painting decorative scenes at his local china factory. Here  his voluptuous ceramics exude a robust charm, inviting good eating, a few chips even.

The working kitchen has a super-chic Greek Key motif and pared back palette.

Walking through I love how the traditional honeycomb terracotta is spiced up by threshold bars in marble leading into the mosaic tiled hall:

Then look at the stairs, the sinuous balustrades reminiscent of the sea beyond and the rising marble treads.



 Once upstairs we ooh and aahed over his studio:

then got overexcited in the bathroom … the random tile factor.

Across the hall, Renoir’s bedroom still feels peaceful: the graceful lines of  mantlepiece and commode,  the decorative charm of vintage pieces.  The house is so beautifully detailed throughout, look at shell handle which operates the fireplace shutter.

The museum have now now hung ‘Les Grandes Baigneuses’ where his bed once stood.  I feel Renoir really loved women with an intimate understanding his paintings reveal a multifaceted femininity in all its shades and tones.

IMG_9712Aren’t they gorgeous, or look at his son being tenderly introduced to the wonders of the kitchen by  his nurse Gabrielle.

Gabrielle et Jean by PierreAugusteRenoirWho he also painted alone: sensuous, contemplative and blushing.

gabrielle with jewelleryRenoir clearly made women feel rather wonderful.

Renoir’s intimate portrayal of the rituals and relationships which make up each life still seem to rest easy in this space.  Les Colettes  is an Art Nouveau house created from the Impressionist palette, a home created in the belief that art is a ‘philosophy of life’ which takes inspiration from the beauty of the natural world and the sensuous pleasures of humanity itself.


photos all taken by me with some paintings added via internet research (oh lovely Gabrielle).

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