Picasso was not a man to be outdone. When he arrived on the Côte d’Azur, he would have been aware of Renoir’s home in nearby Cagnes Sur Mer, as well as Chagall’s long stays in St Paul de Vence and Léger’s life near Biot. He would also have known the man artists who had painted the views from Antibes, including Monet.
By the time he arrived in Antibes in 1946 Picasso was a household name. His cubist period and flirtation with surrealism were already behind him, as was his monumental work Guernica. However, times were hard in postwar Europe and Picasso was frustrated by the lack of studio space in the cramped house on the Golfe-Juan he was sharing with his lover Françoise Gilot. He was at the top of his game, but he needed a studio to match.
By chance, a mutual friend introduced him to the curator of the archaeological museum which was at the time housed in the Grimaldi castle. It was here that Picasso set up shop in 1946, and which today houses the Picasso museum – one of the biggest attractions on this stretch of the Côte d’Azur.
Built on the ancient remains of the Greek city which once stood here, the castle was home to archbishops (between 442 and 1385AD) and royalty. When the Monegasque Grimaldis left in 1792, it became the town hall.
Picasso lived and worked here for 6 productive months during which he created works including Joie de Vivre, La chèvre and Satyre. The museum is home to 23 paintings and 44 drawings which the artist bequeathed to the town. There is also a good selection of his Vallauris ceramics on display, for which drew inspiration from the craftsmen of the local area.
As well as the collection inside the castle, there is also a remarkable sculpture garden (including works by Giacometti) out on the terrace overlooking the sea.
The Picasso Museum is closed between 12 and 2, as well as on Mondays and on the 1st January, 1st May, 1st November and Christmas Day.
- Address: Musée Picasso, Chateau Grimaldi, Place du Chateau, 06600, Antibes, France
- Tel: 00 33 04 02 90 54 20
- Opening hours: 10 – 12 and 2 – 6. Closed on Mondays
- Entry: €6, concessions €3
Cover: Flickr / Birger Hoppe