|Northern light is the most stable. A wooden floor is preferable to a floor made of red tiles. And white walls reflect too much light. Apparently, Paul Cezanne did five weeks of research to find the perfect shade of grey for the walls of his studio. This is what the bright French tour guide tells visitors as we stand in front of a window wall.
This is no grand museum, just a simple house where Cezanne used to come every morning from his apartment downtown in Aix-en-Provence. Situated half way between his home and Mont Sainte- Victoire which is featured often in his paintings it was the perfect place for his work. Due to development the mountain can no longer be seen, but thanks to gracious benefactors, at least the building is still standing. The curator of the Barnes foundation in Philadelphia (which has 69 Cezannes according to her) has visited the studio, but not many people know about this hidden gem.
Various ordinary objects, mostly from Cezanne’s mother’s kitchen featured in his still-life art grace the room. A green olive jar, a blue ceramic jar in a basket, a broken Cupid statue, can all be recognized in a calendar of his prints available at the gift store below. Cezanne’s art backpack is still in a corner right next to his pea coats and berets, as if he has just stepped out of the room and will be returning soon. A giant easel that he used for his Les GrandesBagneuses(The Bathers) stands in a corner. In a famous picture of him taken by painter Emil Bernard (Cezanne was too impatient to sit for a portrait) Cezanne sits on that easel. Photographs were forbidden, but gentle touches seemed to be condoned, so I touched the base of that easel, and sneaked (a tiny one) brush of his coat as if I could grab history onto my fingers. Cezanne didn’t want to use real models, the guide says because he said “people would talk.” He was 65 when he did the paintings of bathers and he didn’t want nude models in his studio. Instead, he used a mannequin that is displayed next to a large painted wooden screen also featured in his paintings.
For a few minutes in that room one could feel the dedication of the painter to his craft. This was where art was made, not fame, not fortune. Just an ordinary person showing up every day to do his job. Outside, the garden is wild and overgrown. A large tree bends over the front door and creepers twirl around trees. A trail lined with hedges stretches out from the back. Time has taken over, but the spirit of Cezanne still remains.