We stepped into the private world of Paul Cezanne. The painter’s work studio, where he painted most of the paintings observed in museums all over the world, is perched on Lauves hill. Cezanne painted there from 1902 to 1906, the year he was taken from pneumonia. When the studio was up for demolition, two American students saved it. The studio was locked and closed off from the world in its normal conditions, preserved the way it was left by the artist. Years later it became a museum. And now managed by Aix-en-Provence, it is where visitors can experience the painter’s presence.
The following pictures show changes of the studio. The trees that now surround the house was not present in those earlier days, so Cezanne had tremendous amounts of natural light coming through the massive windows for his painting. And the dirt road leading up to the house has transformed into an urban path.
We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but when we first entered the room I noticed the bright and airy space as a large box with a high ceiling and walls of windows. The painter’s belongings plastered the walls next to the giant windows. I noticed old furnishings: chairs, stools, a mirror hanging at the corner of the room, a two-person dining table, three skulls, old lanterns, paintings, and drawings. Cezanne’s old wool jacket, trench coats, umbrellas and hats hung at one corner of the room. The painter’s work tools were in abundance, and the city has kept his other personal belongings secured in a chest of drawers. To name a few, we saw his old ties, cigar pipe, and coin purse.
On the dining table, a fruit bowl of apples shared space with an old wine bottle and wine glass. For aged apples, some of them looked surprisingly fine, while others have withered into a wrinkly mush. The wine glass had the painter’s lip stains, and dried red wine crusted its bottom.
From our observation, Cezanne was a religious man. Above a collection of pitchers were a painting and statue of Christ. And from all that we saw, the atmosphere of the studio simply evoked the essence of Cezanne — and of a true painter’s work space. We could imagine Cezanne painting in this quiet space.
We later explored the property’s new walking trail. Instantly engulfed by nature, we surrounded ourselves with fallen leaves and tree branches that waved at us. The wind soothed us with its breeze, and the cicadas greeted us with their songs. And for that moment we were shielded from the hot sun, we embraced the serenity nature provided us.