Jas de Bouffan Paul Cezanne’s Family Home in Aix
As Aixcentric followers will know, the 18th-century country house, Jas de Bouffan, which was home to the Cezanne family for 40 years, was closed over a year ago for renovation. I went in for a visit on its last day of opening, and my goodness, it needed renovation: think cold, damp, pieces of plaster hanging off the walls and ceilings.
It’s a sizable property, 450m2, with a farm, outbuildings, caretaker’s house, a large pond, an orangerie…all in 6 hectares of land, all inside the Aix city boundaries. Work started and was expected to take about 3 years, but of course, Covid intervened, and work is just recommencing. Continue reading here for the original article and details on the restoration project with a target opening date of 2023.
Bastide du Jas de Bouffan
Enormous Plane trees frame the entrance to the manor house, which was constructed in 1750. The sizeable property includes a large private garden with ponds, fountains, and sculptures. Paul Cézanne’s father (Louis-Auguste Cézanne) purchased the house in 1859 as a summer retreat from the centre of Aix-en-Provence. In today’s terms, it may seem a bit ridiculous to have two homes in such proximity. However, one must remember that this era did not benefit from decent road infrastructure, air conditioning or other comforts that we take for granted.
Over a 40 year period, Cezanne painted his home and the grounds 36 times in oil and 17 times with watercolour. After the painter’s father died, Paul Cézanne continued to live in the bastide, painting in his attic studio, with his mother until her death. The property was sold in 1899 and designated as a French historical monument in 2001.
This video provides an overview of the classic Provencal manor house and the grounds:
Bastide du Jas de Bouffan
17 route de Galice
Currently closed to the public.
More on Paul Cézanne
Unique Château Noir: Aix-based artist Jill Steenhuis shared the following. Château Noir is a special place where one feels the presence of Cezanne. The location radiates the authenticity of Provence and its history all the way back to Roman times. It is untouched by modern comforts and conveniences, unspoilt by tourism and expectations of how things should be – rather; it is true “nature dans son jus.” The pistachio tree in the courtyard that Cezanne painted in 1895 & 1896 is still there, and the millstones are still in place just as they were when Cezanne painted them. Read more about this inspirational location outside of Aix-en-Provence.
Discover the Musée Granet collection. You can believe there was a lot of competition and jealousy among artists in Aix. Paul Cézanne’s work was spurned by Henri Pointier, a fellow artist and the curator of The Museum of Aix (1892 to 1925). Pointier, who never excelled to the degree that Cézanne did as an artist, swore that his museum would never exhibit a Cézanne painting in his lifetime, despite the fact that Cézanne had offered to donate 100 paintings.
Visit Cézanne’s Studio. As a young artist, I was attracted to and inspired by many impressionistic and post-impressionistic painters. I loved the work of Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Gauguin and Cézanne and many more. When I arrived in Aix-en-Provence for the first time, I rushed up the hill to see Cézanne’s atelier.
Visiting his private studio was an inspiring experience. The atelier is located up above the city on Lauves Hill. I walked in the woods behind his studio, completely understanding his need for quiet solitude. This place allowed him to paint in the style he became known for but not highly respected during his lifetime.
From 1904 until he died in 1906, Cézanne worked every morning in this studio of light and silence. The worlds’ greatest museums now own dozens of paintings created in this space. His studio was preserved until 1997 by a foundation created by two American collectors. Please read about the feeling that artist Marti Schmidt had the moment she walked into the atelier.