Martigny, the center of artistic world, again

Madame Cézanne à l’éventail, ca 1878-1888, Fondation E. G. Bührle, Zürich. The painting used to belong to Gertrude Stein

Cecilia Bartoli was singing at Fondation Pierre Gianadda for the 25 th time and Daniel Marchesseau was curating an exhibition there for the fifteenth time. The combination of Haendel sung by the diva with cellist Sol Gabetta and her brother’s baroque orchestra, Cappella Gabetta, with a hundred paintings and drawings by Paul Cézanne in the background, was a winner. Again the town of Martigny, just below Verbier, attracted 800 music lovers cramped in the museum and Leonard Gianadda, 82, could be proud of himself and of his faithful public.

Baigneurs, ca 1890, private collection

Since the opening of the exhibition “Cézanne, Le Chant de la Terre” last June, I had wanted to get to Martigny to see this most extroardinary selection of portraits, landscapes and still lives by Cézanne that all my friends had loved. Ten paintings had never been back in Europe, many had not been shown for a very long time.

La Tentation de Saint-Antoine, vers 1870, Fondation Collection E.G. Bührle, Zurich

Daniel Marchesseau, was particularly happy at getting « Baigneurs », a painting he had spotted when he was in his twenties at Robert de Rothschild’s house in Paris. He was also proud to have brought the admirable « Pommes et linge » from Tokyo.

Femmes et fillettes dans un intérieur, ca 1870, Musée Pouchkine, Moscou

I particularly liked a surprising painting from the Pushkin museum, “Femmes et fillettes dans un intérieur “, a revisited version of La Mode Illustrée’s ladies in crinolines which was matched with « La Conversation » set in Paris.

In a smaller room, Cézanne’s works on paper were presented with the splendid « Arbres et pont », 1888-90. Two paintings with a black background show how modern the artist was : « Les Baigneuses devant la montagne Sainte Victoire » are almost abstract and “La Tentation de Saint Antoine” from the Bührle collection (who lent nine paintings all together) is striking. I was personally fascinated by « Les Baigneurs au repos » one of a series of 5 baigneurs where each man moves as if in a movie.

“La neige fondue à l’Estaque-Les Toits rouges”, ca 1870 is one of the first stunning work in the show

There are memorable portraits of “Le Jardinier Vallier”, from Aix, of collector Victor Choquet and of Cézanne’s wife Hortense: « Madame Cézanne à l’éventail », the portrait stunned Picasso in such a way,  when he saw it at Gertrude Stein’s house while painting her portrait, that he made her sit a hundred times for fear of not being good enough. The result is at the Metropolitan museum in New York.

Daniel Marchesseau, the curator of the show in front of his favorite Cézanne, “Apple and linen”, 1879-1880 which used to belong to Mary Cassatt

It was a delightful evening:  seeing the show around 5 pm and sitting down in the sculpture garden for a light dinner before listening to the diva in numerous (unknown to me) baroque opera songs.

Antonio Caldara’s “Nitocri” (1722) where Cecilia Bartoli sang with the cellist Sol Gabetta, Domenico Gabrielli’s “San Sigismondo, re di Borgogna”, Nicola Porpora’s “Adelaide”. Another duo was particularly amazing, with oboist Diego Nadra in Haendel’s “Agilea from Teseo”…

Cecilia Bartoli, who is married to Swiss baritone Oliver Widmer and lives in Zürich, spends a lot of time researching old arias in archives and this recital was especially fascinating.

At the book festival in Morges, Lake Geneva took spectacular colors

Driving back to Lausanne, we had a chance to visit the Morges book festival “Le Livre sur les quais” on the next day. It is the most enchanting French language literary event  which takes place on the first week end of September every year. It is partly sponsored by publisher Vera Michalski and attracts over 200 writers, in a sort of  Swiss version of Hay on Wye. I was lucky to meet there the couple Eva Ionesco and Simon Liberati who were both presenting a new book and illuminated the show with their charisma and sense of fun.

Writer Simon Liberati, publisher Philippine Cruse and Eva Ionesco in Saint Prex

If you can’t make it to Martigny, have a look at the catalog where each painting has its own story and provenances of the pictures are very interesting. “Paul Cézanne, Le Chant de la Terre”, runs until November 19. Fondation Pierre Gianadda will show another exhibition curated by Daniel Marchesseau “Toulouse Lautrec” from December, 1st.

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2 Comments on “Martigny, the center of artistic world, again”

  1. chilla

    WOW ! What a special musical/Cézanne event ! Thanks for telling us about it.
    I would have loved to have been there too !

    Chilla

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