Provence has numerous art galleries, often celebrating the painters who have made the region their home. Many of the region’s most celebrated collections are housed in architectural wonders, helping to enhance the art on display and showcase Provençal locations at their best.
A number of acclaimed artists are associated with Provence. Some, such as Cézanne, were born in the area and others, like Matisse and Picasso, were drawn to the luminous quality of the light. The specific light in Provence is caused by the local Mistral wind, which clears the skies of pollution, creating stunning landscapes that have inspired countless paintings. Some of the art galleries in Provence celebrate artistic masters in the villas in which they used to live, such as Matisse’s villa in Nice. In other places, sculptures and artefacts are housed in grand buildings from La Belle Époque or stunning contemporary structures, such as the Mucem in Marseille.
The Musée Villa Masséna originally belonged to French aristocrat Victor Masséna, who used it as a winter retreat after its construction in 1898. It was donated to the city of Nice by Masséna’s son upon his father’s death. The villa was heavily restored in 2008 and opened as a museum and art gallery. Wander the intricate hallways of this amazing building to admire ornate artefacts relating to La Belle Époque. It’s also home to one of Napoleon’s death masks — there are many copies around the world, all of which were made from the original, which is thought to be in the US.