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Emmanuel Costa's Riviera

The Masséna museum in Nice is offering its summer exhibition until September 17, 2023 on the theme: "Seeing the Riviera in painting, and beyond". This highlights the works of the painter Emmanuel Costa (1833-1921), known for his large painted decorations, sacred and profane.

Emmanuel Costa. Nice tryptique © M Graniou
Emmanuel Costa. Nice tryptique © M Graniou

The exhibition invites us to go back in time through a hundred 19th century Nice landscapes, between sea and mountains… and beyond! Emmanuel Costa was not only inspired by his native Riviera, from Estérel to Liguria, but also by other places such as Lyon, Paris, Lons-le-Saunier and even Madrid and Warsaw.

Born in 1833 in Menton, he experienced the years of the change of sovereignty of Nice, which became French in 1860. Like many of his contemporaries, he was torn between ancestral feelings for the house of Savoy, a keen interest in the unity Italian and the desire to live within the French State.

Emmanuel Costa. Roccheta Nervina. Musée Masséna Nice
Emmanuel Costa. Roccheta Nervina. Musée Masséna Nice

With his three sons, Emmanuel Costa has multiplied the interior decorations of several hotels in Nice and Monaco, of most of the performance halls of Nice such as the former Municipal Casino of Place Masséna, the Cercle international de Nice, the Grand Hôtel de Nice, the Hotel de Paris in Monte-Carlo, etc. Of these immense decorations, we still have today the ceiling of the Opéra de Nice, typical of this academic art which is completely in keeping with the eclectic style of 19th century resort architecture.

Cesare Tallone, Portrait du lieutenant Buffa, vers 1894, huile sur toile, 225 x 120 cm, collection particulière
Emmanuel Costa. Monaco. © DR

Even more than by his religious and decorative works, the notoriety of Emmanuel Costa was first built around the landscapes of Nice and the coast that he never stopped painting in oil and especially in watercolor. . It is part of a long tradition of landscape painters-travellers who have worked on site and made the country of Nice known through original works and their reproductions in prints.


65, rue de France

06000 Nice


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In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...




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