On-line Guide: Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nice
Russian princess Elizaveta Kochubey didn’t have children. Instead she poured her prodigious wealth into a three-tiered mansion that fuses Ancient Rome and the belle époque. Her former private home is now Nice’s Museum of Fine Arts. The building’s rococo splendour would warrant a visit by itself; a distinct bonus is a collection that includes works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Jan Brueghel.
The room of Raoul Dufy canvases regales Nice’s saucy history. Dufy was a fauvist, a ‘wild beast’ painter who valued vivid colours over artistic representation, as seen in his depictions of ritzy parties and racing yachts along the Cote d’Azur seaside. On the ground floor, the naked Auguste Rodin statue is so lifelike is cries out to be patted on the arse. One collection to look out for are the works of Jules Chéret. The French lithographer, who moved to Nice for the sunny climate, became the master of the belle époque travel poster. His art deco advertisements for the Moulin Rouge in Paris, or the coastal train from Cannes to Monaco, rank among his finest creations.
A decade ago, the Musée des Beaux-Arts received global attention when armed robber Pierre Noël-Dumarais stole Monet’s Cliffs Near Dieppe by brandishing a Colt .45 pistol. The art thieves were captured then put on trial in Aix-en-Provence. Their defence rested on a notion that they were “framed by the FBI”. A likely story, lads.
33 avenue des Baumettes, www.musee-beaux-arts-nice.org