Pablo Picasso, one of the most famous and iconic painters of all time, lived a full and eventful life that greatly enriched both the world of art, and all who marvelled at his work. Despite being Spanish-born, most of Picasso’s adult life was spent in France, and in his latter years, Mougins specifically. His Mougins home, the Villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie which he once labelled ‘the home of his dreams’, has since become a valued piece of Mougins history, despite now being privately owned.
Located in Mougins, here at Le Mas Candille we are deeply invested in the history of this area, which may also be of great interest to our guests. Read on to discover the ‘Mougins Picasso’; an essential part of the Picasso biography, which led this world-famous artist to hold a special place in all Mougins locals hearts.
Villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie; The History of Picasso’s Mougins House
Recently it came to light that Picasso’s Mougins home was originally purchased from the Guinness family, with Benjamin Seymour Guinness first acquiring the property in 1925, back when it was still a traditional farmhouse. Guinness then made conversions to the property which brought it to the level of luxury that caught Picasso’s eye.
Picasso and Guinness aside, other famous names are also associated with the home, most notably Winston Churchill. Good friends with the Guinness family, Churchill fell in love with Mougins upon his regular visits to the house whilst it was still in the Guinness’s possession. Indeed, Picasso wasn’t the only artist to have been stirred by Mougins’ beauty; with such stunning and ethereal scenery, the views of Mougins inspired many a budding artist, including Churchill himself!
Also friends with the Guinness family, and another regular guest at the home, this too was how Picasso discovered Mougins. Visiting at the same time as Churchill (what we would have given to be a fly on that wall!), Picasso became transfixed with the Guiness’s Mougins house on a whole different level, offering to purchase it outright from Benjamin’s son Loel.
Acquiring and moving into the house in 1961, Picasso went on to live in Mougins until his death in 1973. The house subsequently was inhabited by Picasso’s second wife, Jacqueline Roque, until her passing in 1986. Wondrously, Picasso’s Mougins dream home was then left completely untouched for thirty years; it is said that even his glasses were left in their usual spot! The neglected house went on to be purchased and have its original opulence restored, whilst bringing it up to modern standards (think tennis court, gym and spa), albeit with its initial charm maintained.
Picasso’s Mougins house was put on auction again on October 12th 2017, with a starting price of £23 million. Quite bizarrely, only one bidder was present that day; Rayo Withanage, a New Zealand real estate businessman, who proceeded to back out of the purchase before recommitting at a later date. Whilst the house is now closed to the public, the nearby chapel (Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Vie), viewable from Picasso’s home, and which helped fuel his creative inspiration, remains open for exploring.
What Mougins Means For The Art World
The substantial impact both Villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie and Mougins itself had on Picasso’s artwork is undeniable. Indeed, it was here in Mougins that Picasso produced some of his best and most well-known work, including; The Dance of Youth (1961), Nu Assis Dans Un Fauteuil (1963) and Femme Nue Au Collier (1968). And truly, it’s not hard to see why. Alongside the stunning Côte d’Azur scenery, the house itself offered ample seclusion; one of the main reasons Picasso purchased his Mougins house was to escape the hustle and bustle of Cannes.
Mougins’ influence and focus on the world of art has been a concurrent theme in this delightful French commune over the years. A veritable magnet for artistic folk, Mougins has attracted, to name but a few, the famous poet and writer Jean Cocteau, fashion designers Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, and the legendary Fernand Leger (whose artist’s studio was situated above what is now the village wine shop!). Mougins has and continues to be a hotbed of artistic inspiration and appreciation, with Picasso’s home just one chapter in this little commune’s extensive artistic history, extending today to the neighbouring Cannes film festival.
Mougins’ love and deep appreciation for art can also be seen in the abundant galleries in the area, most notably the award-winning Mougins Museum of Classical Art, which features collections from ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and has housed paintings and sculptures from a variety of world-renowned artists, including; Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, and, you guessed it, Pablo Picasso. The building itself also used to be medieval Mougins’ village prison.
One of countless artists seduced by Southern France, Picasso fell in love with Mougins at first sight, with the region playing a pivotal role in the later years of the Picasso biography. Visit Mougins and experience the power of the area’s beauty for yourself. At Le Mas Candille, we are located close to the heart of Mougins, a short drive to Villa Notre-Dame-de-Vie, the neighbouring chapel (which you can paint on our watercolour tour of Mougins!) and all Mougins museums and galleries.
Occupied since pre-Roman times, it’s no wonder Mougins possesses such a rich historical tapestry. Keep reading our blog to further uncover Mougins history, and to learn more about this wonderful part of the world!