Aix-en-Provence offers numerous outstanding former private noble houses. The Hotel de Caumont is one of them and is really worth a visit. Discover why reading this short article.
A new cultural institution in Aix-en-Provence
This last 6th of May, Culturespaces reopened the doors of the Hotel de Caumont as an outstanding Art Center. This company manages cultural projects and is in charge of many great places in Provence and in France such as the arenas of Nimes, the castle of the Baux de Provence, the Quarries of Light in les Baux and the Roman theatre and Roman arch in Orange. Further East, they take care of the Villa Ephrusi de Rothschild and the Villa Kérylos. In Paris they take care of the awesome Jacquemart-André Museum. Wherever they operate, they bring life to old monuments.
This new cultural institution in Aix, located near the famous Cours Mirabeau, is a gem of the 18th century and has been restored within two years. Today, it makes the heart of Aix-en-Provence, especially the Mazarin District livelier. It’s also a great opportunity to see one of these mansions inside and to understand the art of living of the nobility of Aix-en-Provence in the 17th and 18th centuries. Indeed, most of the mansions in Aix-en-Provence are private and not open to visitors.
The cultural program of the Art Center of this new place highlights Fine Art with each year 2 temporary main exhibitions dedicated to the Great names of art – from ancient art to modern painting.
The first exhibition, from the 6th of May to the 13th of September 2015, displayed works of the famous Italian painter Canaletto completed in Roma, London and Venice – the triumph of light.
An unreleased movie entitled Cézanne in the country of Aix has been broadcasted since the opening in the auditorium of the Art Center and concerts, artistic shows and forums are scheduled from 2015 onwards.
They encountered a great success with locals and visitors from all over the world that rave about this new cultural place.
With a terrace overlooking the shaddy gardens, the Caumont coffee is an ideal place to stop in the heart of the Mazarin district.
A new Art Center in a gem of the 18th century, entirely restored
To welcome this new Art center, a large program of restoration has been undertaken on the whole surface of the Hotel de Caumont that is to say 2500 m2. The front, the inside decorations and the gardens have been restored with the help of the State and the city of Aix-en-Provence. 300 years after the laying of the first stone, this outstanding building registered as a historical monument is writing a new page of its cultural history.
A private mansion between courtyard and garden
Unlike many private mansions in Aix-en-Provence overlooking directly the street, this one is between courtyard and garden. It is organized following a type of plan which appeared in Paris in the 16th century. A parallel can be drawn on the urban scale to a castle and its park. It is characterized by 4 parts which go from public to private space: the gate, the state coach courtyard, the main building and the garden.
By the greatness of its design with no equivalent in Aix-en-Provence, by its harmonious proportions and its classical front, it is a perfect example of the French architecture from the 18th century. Remarkable parts are the elegant gate, the façade and the staircase with a wrought iron banister which was registered on the inventory of historical monuments in 1925 followed by the registration of the whole mansion in 1987.
A new exhibition from November 07, 2015 to March 20, 2016
The upcoming exhibition will cast a new light on the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein with paintings of great names such as Cranach, Raphaël, Rubens, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Hubert Robert and Vigée-Lebrun. A visit is strongly advised.
The Princes of Liechtenstein have been collecting art masterpieces for 5 centuries. Paintings, sculptures, books, tapestries, wood carvings, furniture, china, silverware and goldware are part of their outstanding collection.
The taste for art has been passed on from one generation to the next in the family since the 17th century. The princes have been enriching clear-sightedly their collection ever since and have never sold their items, this explains why the collection is so important.
The exhibition offered by the Hotel de Caumont displays about 40 paintings. Different themes are explored but human portrait is at the heart of the exhibition. Indeed, humanism spread across Europe from the Renaissance onwards. On a philosophical point of view, human beings are at the center of the humanist thought. Thus, the subjects of painting became portraits of men and women and were no longer divine ideals.
While visiting, you will also enjoy Rubens’ paintings from the 17th century who explored religious and mythological themes. You will gape at intimate portraits from the Dutch Golden Age painted by great names such as Hals, Rembrandt, Rubens or Van Dyck. Finally, the 17th century casts a new light on landscapes and still life paintings which were bought by the Liechenstein’s family to enrich their collection.
Last but not least, the exhibition enables the curious visitors to discover more about the Liechtenstein dynasty with the portraits of family members, a way to honor them and their great sense of art.
To put it in a nutshell, this new exhibition at the Hotel de Caumont is a powerful dive into the art of portraiture.