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Picasso in Arles: A Modern Master Follows in the Footsteps of Van Gogh

We’ve gone on and on both on this blog and in our recently released “ART + TRAVEL EUROPE: Step into The Lives of Five Famous Painters” about Vincent Van Gogh’s troubled but productive time in Arles on the western edge of the Provence region of southern France that spanned from early 1888 to mid 1889. But Van Gogh was far from the only artist to harvest inspiration from the area’s sun-dappled flora and gorgeous vistas. At the time, he was joined by Dutch painter Christian Mourier-Petersen and entertained dreams of setting up a artist’s colony with his contemporary and sometime foil Paul Gauguin, who indeed produced some brilliant work during his stay there. But Van Gogh’s notions of a “school of Arles” feel apart alongside his sanity, and he left the area in May of 1889 in tatters, dying in Auvers-sur-Oise a little more than a year later. But the region has been fertile ground for other artists from before Van Gogh’s time all the way to the present day—chief among these painters in Arles, the definitive Modern artist, Pablo Picasso.

Though Picasso spent a good part of his life in a political exile in France, he was a Spaniard through and through and, consequently, loved bullfighting. The last 12 years of his life were spent in the village of Mougins, east and around the coast from Arles. From there, he would often travel with his coterie of friends to see the bullfights at Arles’ Roman arena. These bloody shows were an ongoing subject in his work, and many of his later paintings and drawings were inspired by the spectacles he saw in Arles. Picasso was also deeply connected to Arles through his love of Van Gogh’s work, an influence can be seen in many of Picasso’s own paintings and drawings, but nowhere more clearly than in his witty “Portrait of Lee Miller as an Arlésienne” (1937). An homage to Van Gogh’s L’Arlesienne series, the painting of the iconic photographer, model and world-traveler now hangs is hanging in Arles’ Réattu Museum in Arles along with 57 drawings he bequeathed to it and his “Portrait of Maria Picasso Lopez” (1923). Obviously, Van Gogh is only one master to leave his mark on this region.
For a full tour of Arles, pick up a copy of “ART + TRAVEL EUROPE: Step into The Lives of Five Famous Painters” today.
Top (left to right): “Portrait of Lee Miller as an Arlésienne”, Pablo Picasso, 1937, courtesy of the Réattu Museum, “L’Arlésienne (Madame Ginoux with gloves and umbrella)”, Vincent Van Gogh, 1888, courtesy of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.
Bottom (left to right): Exterior of the Réattu Museum in Arles, “Portrait of Maria Picasso Lopez”, Picasso, 1923, courtesy of the Réattu.

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