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Nice, queen of flowers, at the Massena Museum

Flowers have occupied, in various ways, a unique place in the history of Nice.

From the end of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, the "Winter Capital" attracted foreigners from all over the world. Beyond the climate, the scents and colors distilled by the endemic vegetation present in Nice and the surrounding area have aroused the enthusiasm of visitors to the Nice site.

Since June 9, 2022, the Nice Arts Biennale has devoted 11 exhibitions to the theme of Flowers, including the one presented at the Massena Museum with, in particular, references to the works of Berthe Morisot, Rosa Bonheur, Paul Milliet and Raoul Dufy.

In an exclusive interview with Fabrice Roy, Jean-Pierre Barbero, Director of the Massena Museum speaks passionately about this unique place and the exhibition "Nice, queen of flowers".

Even if the greenhouses of horticulturists have practically disappeared from the western hills, Nice remains a city deeply marked by the abundance of flowers. 210,000 of them are laid out every year in the city's 300 hectares of green spaces. Architecture, friezes, ceramics, furniture, all forms of artistic expression constantly remind us that "Nissa la bella, regina de li flou" is a garden city.

Paul Audra. Hommage à Nice. 1931. Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret. Nice
Paul Audra. Hommage à Nice. 1931. Musée des Beaux-Arts Jules Chéret. Nice
Camille Pissarro Bazincourt, effet de neige. Coucher du soleil, 1892, Huile sur toile, 32 x 41 cm, Hasso Platner Collection / Sammlung Hasso Plattner
Berthe Morisot Branches d’oranger 1889 Paris Musée Marmottan Monet. Legs Annie Rouart

Between 1881 and 1890, Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) spent several summers in Nice. And in particular at the Villa Ratti in 1888. These stays inspired him a large number of paintings, with a predilection for views of the port, beaches, but also gardens and orange trees.

Georgette Agutte. Bord de Seine à l'Automne. Vers 1890. Musée de Grenoble.
Rosa Bonheur Un coin de bruyères et de genêts émaillé de fleurs Musée des Peintres de Barbizon En dépôt au château Rosa Bonheur

From 1880, Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) and her companion Nathalie Micas regularly spent the winter in Nice, first of all in the residence of the Belgian art dealer and collector Ernest Gambart, the villa L'Africaine. From 1895, they had a 22-room house built, the Villa Bornala, which no longer exists today. Rosa Bonheur will paint several canvases there.

Georgette Agutte. Le Café dans le jardin. Musée de Grenoble.
Paul Milliet Esquisse pour la salle des fêtes de l’Hôtel de Ville de Paris entre 1888 et 1893 Paris, Petit Palais – Musée des Beaux-Arts de la ville de Paris,

Son of the singer Félix Milliet (1811-1888), Paul Milliet followed the latter in his exile in Switzerland after the Coup d'etat of 1851 and settled in Geneva. He became a student of the painter Jean-Léonard Lugardon (1801-1884). We owe Paul Milliet numerous decorative and monumental works, in particular for the Grand Théâtre de Genève and the Hôtel de Ville in Paris with two allegories representing Normandy and the County of Nice.

Raoul Dufy. Le Feu d'artifice et la jetée promenade. Vers 1947. Beauvais MUDO Musée de l'Oise.
Raoul Dufy. Le Feu d'artifice et la jetée promenade. Vers 1947. Beauvais MUDO Musée de l'Oise.

Buried in the Cimiez cemetery, Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) made Nice one of his favorite cities. When he represents the Promenade des Anglais, the casino on the promenade jetty, the landscapes of Nice, the vegetation and the flowers occupy a place of choice in his works.

Nice, reine des fleurs

65, rue de France 06000 Nice

Tél: 04 93 91 19 10


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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