|Le Jas de Bouffan|
Country home of a lumberman turned commissioner during the wars, then the family residence of a hatter turned banker, Jas de Bouffan tells the story of the social ascension of Gaspard Truphème and Louis-Auguste Cézanne. However, one name more than any other remains associated with it, that of Paul Cézanne. For the banker's son, the country house bought by his father in 1859 was not only a home, an anchor, and a studio whose walls received his first works, but also a source of permanent inspiration until 1899.
The Truphème family, native to Garde-Adhémar, in Drome, settled in Aix-en-Provence at the end of the XVII century. In 1745, Gaspard Truphème (1688 - 1766), a lumberman, was given a post as adviser to the king in the chancellery to the Court of Auditors, then in 1758 the post of provincial commissioner of war. To commemorate his rise in society, he had Georges Vallon, architect of the town and the province, build the country house of Jas de Bouffan. The Truphème coat of arms was reproduced on alabaster decorating an alcoved room on the first floor: “Azure blue with a silver bar, with three misaligned stars up top and a three-peaked mountain where it tapered, all in gold”.
Gaspard's son Pierre (1737 - 1816) became ordinance officer of war in the department of Marseilles in June 1758. In 1767, the property included “the master's residence, the mulberry trees of the alley from the large gateway up to the fountain, the lightwood thicket, and all the new plantings, that is, the mulberry tree nurseries, the dwarf mulberry trees, and the mulberry trees in the alleys and thickets”.
Joseph Truphème (1768 - 1810), Pierre's son, also provincial commissioner of war, became the owner of Jas de Bouffan in 1803. One of his four daughters, Gabrielle, inherited Jas de Bouffan and it is thus, by marriage, that the Joursins came to own the country house. In 1854, Gabriel Joursin inherited his mother's estate. He only kept Jas de Bouffan for four years. On September 15th, 1859, he sold the rural property that included 14 hectares 97 ares to Louis-Auguste Cézanne for the sum of 85,000 francs. Cézanne's father was a banker, and to recover the money which Gabriel Joursin owed him, 650,000 francs, he was reimbursed personally by the sale. Paul was then 20 years old. The family occupied only the first floor of the vast residence; the large room with the curved wall on the ground floor was used as a storage area, and beginning in 1859, Paul set out to decorate it. The house was in bad condition then, which explains why the banker, opposed to his son's artistic career, allowed him to paint directly on the walls of the large oval room on the ground floor. He decorated the walls with four large panels of the Seasons that he ironically signed INGRES, arranged two by two around a central portrait his father, in profile, sitting in a chair reading the newspaper.
Cézanne signed each panel “INGRES” on the bottom right and added the date 1811 on the bottom left of the panel representing Winter. This inscription echoed that of Ingres himself on his Jupiter and Thétis, signed and dated in Rome in 1811 and housed at the Granet museum.
By signing these works with the name Ingres, Cézanne perhaps wanted to prove to his father, ironically, that he was no worse than the most famous artist of his time.
Between 1860 and 1870, Cézanne painted directly on the walls, creating several other works that remained there until his death in 1906. Around 1870, Louis-Auguste Cézanne moved his family into Jas de Bouffan. From 1881 to 1885 (dates inscribed in the tiles), he had the roof of the country house redone in industrial tiles and took advantage of the chance to construct a studio for his son under the roof. On October 23rd, 1886, Louis-Auguste Cézanne died at Jas de Bouffan. After the death of his father, Cézanne again set up his studio in the large room on the ground floor.
In January 1888, Renoir stayed at Jas de Bouffan, but soon left Cézanne “because of the black avarice which reigns in the house”.
In 1891, Numa Coste wrote to Zola: “He lives at Jas de Bouffan with his mother…” whom he never left alone. When she died on on October 25th, 1897 at 82 years of age, he knew such sorrow that he could no longer live there. To put an end to the joint possession of the estate, Maxime Conil, Cézanne's brother-in-law, insisted on selling the property. On September 18th, 1899, Louis Granel, a polytechnic agricultural engineer from Carcassonne purchased it for the sum of 75,000 francs.
In 1907, one year after Cézanne's death, Louis Granel suggested taking Cézanne's paintings off the walls and presenting them to the government for potential purchase. Leonce Bénédite, curator of the Luxembourg Museum came to Aix-en-Provence in order to inspect these early works. His report was definitive: “I am forced to decide absolutely against accepting this largesse. I am not questioning Cézanne's talent or his work. Besides, isn't it represented in Luxembourg in the Caillebotte legacy? I thus take care not to venture down this path, but whatever feelings one professes for the work of this painter, one cannot deny that it would be a peculiar way of honoring him to represent him with the lifeless and banal images which even he does not seem to have taken seriously”.
In April 1912, the Parisian art merchant Jos Hessel purchased and collected some of the works: The Four Seasons, the portrait of Louis-Auguste Cézanne and The Bather at the Rock. He left in place, The Joy of Hide-and-Seek (after Lancret), Christ in Limbo, the portrait of Achille Emperaire, Contraste, Romantic Landscape With Fishermen and part of the landscape which surrounded The Bather at the Rock. Thus, the 12 compositions painted directly onto the walls of Jas de Bouffan by Cézanne were taken, split up and transferred onto 22 canvases before being dispersed. The daughter of Louis Granel married Frederic Corsy, an anatomy professor at the Marseilles medical college. Their son, Andre Corsy, a radiologist, moved into Jas de Bouffan after World War II and a long period of captivity in Germany. He lived there with his wife, Nina Wakhévitch, whose two children he adopted.
In 1994, André Corsy sold the property to the Town of Aix-en-Provence, subject to usufruct, with the exception of the farm. He died on Friday, September 27, 2002 at 82 years of age. The country house and its park, classified as historic monuments, have been open to the public since April 2006.
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