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Picturing a World

Les Collettes

Working from the photographs, paintings, and—best of all for my purposes—elevation plans, plant lists, and a bird’s-eye layout in Derek Fell’s book Renoir’s Garden, I used Renoir’s estate, Les Collettes, near Cagnes to invent Dr. Aubanel’s sanatorium outside L’Estaque. I’m more influenced by Cézanne than Renoir in visualizing Provence generally, but nothing could beat having many pertinent details about a particular place in mind while I was inventing. In middle age, moreover, I became a gardener and had a wonderful time going over Fell’s diagrams plant by plant. A lot of detail inevitably got edited out; but I believe that when the author has an imaginary place firmly in mind, it becomes more authentic to readers, too.

For another view of the house, click here. For a view of the grounds looking down to the sea, click here.

For a few modern photographs of Les Collettes and a trailer for the movie, Renoir, at the Once Upon a Stroll blog, click here. The movie is about Renoir's last years (which were spent at Les Collettes) and the model whom his son, Jean, eventually married. I found it only so-so, but it certainly has beautiful views of the right part of Provence.
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