We’re a nosy bunch, and so the opportunity to have a mosey around a selection of residences, which the likes of Barbara Hepworth, Paul Cézanne, and Frida Kahlo once called home, proved only too tempting.
Below, a septet of artists’ homes-turned-museums await your perusal. From Mexico City to Aix-en-Provence, it’s quite a whirlwind tour.
Head to Sussex to take in the country home of the Bloomsbury Group. A 17th-century farmhouse, Charleston oozes with charm – think hand-painted dressers and stencilled paisley walls. Home to painters Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) and Duncan Grant (1885-1978), their handiwork and artistry can be spotted on almost every available surface. In the main house, the bright artist’s studio – which you’ll visit at the end of the tour – is a real standout. The sometimes retreat of Virginia Woolf, Roger Fry, et al, the farmhouse served a ‘gathering point for some of the 20th century’s most radical artists, writers, and thinkers’. Fostering further conversation between artists and writers, the Charleston Festival runs annually, hosting a series of talks with creative types. Add to your experience with a tour of the galleries. Duncan Grant: 1920 is currently showing.
Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, Mexico City, Mexico
The cobalt-hued Casa Azul in Mexico City was home to artist Frida Kahlo for much of her life. Located in the residential neighbourhood of Coyoacán, the house was built by Frida Kahlo’s father in 1904. The space was transformed into a museum in 1958, when Kahlo’s husband, muralist Diego Rivera, decided to open the house to the public. Dedicated to her life and work, visitors can explore Kahlo’s home and gardens at your leisure – in the two rooms upstairs, stand amongst the original furniture from Kahlo’s bedroom and studio area. Whilst here, spot some of Kahlo’s most famous works, including Viva La Vida and Portrait of my Father, as well as and portraits of her heroes Lenin and Mao.
Barbara Hepworth’s St Ives Home, Cornwall, UK
Barbara Hepworth first came to St Ives – “her spiritual home” – with her husband, Ben Nicholson and their family in 1939. In 1949 she returned without Nicholson and never left. Living and working at Trewyn Studios until her death in 1975, today, the site is managed by Tate. Gardens are laid out as Hepworth designed them, punctuated by her large-scale bronze works. Stone and wood works are also on display in the museum and garden, along with paintings, drawings, and archive material of one of Britain’s most important 20th-century artists.
Casa Dalí, Port Lligat, Spain
Setting up home in a small fisherman’s hut in Portlligat in 1930, the Surrealist artist, Salvador Dalí considered Cadaqués both his summer retreat and studio. Made up of a few small fisherman’s houses, the winding, labyrinthine property, where Dalí lived and worked until 1982, is a sight to see. Punctuated with egg-shaped structures, all the rooms have windows of different shapes and proportions framing the Port Lligat bay – a landscape which is a constant point of reference in Dalí’s work. Now converted into a museum, the residence houses much of his work, including Figures Lying on the Sand and Inaugural Gooseflesh, alongside other oddities – for example, a huge stuffed bear adorned with beaded necklaces – collected by Dalí.
Home to the artist for 40 years, Claude Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny is a must-visit for art lovers and Impressionism aficionados. After World War II, much of the property was ruined, but thanks to a 10-year restoration in the late 1970s, the house and gardens have since been returned to their former glory. Boasting a joyful landscape of fruit trees and long-stemmed hollyhocks, as well as a Japanese-esque water garden (which inspired, and starred, in many of Monet’s masterpieces), the house follows suit, featuring bright pink exterior walls and vivid blues, greens, and yellows inside. At moments, walking through the estate feels like walking through a seminal Monet work.
Atelier de Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence, France
Situated in the scenic region of Aix-en-Provence, Atelier de Cézanne was home to the French painter from 1902, until his death in 1906. During this period, the artist worked daily in the bright studio space, completing several famous works whilst living here, including his last iteration of Bathers, 1900–1905. Spot the original still-life models – bottles, pottery, paper flowers, and fabrics – and work equipment as you work your way through the characterful space.
Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Hertfordshire, UK
Discover some of Henry Moore’s most iconic sculptures in the landscape where he conceived them. Make the pilgrimage to Moore’s studios in Perry Green, Hertfordshire, to visit the rural home in which Moore resided since the 1940s. Not only did it serve as a refuge from The Blitz in London but as a profound source of inspiration – influencing the scale and scope of many of Moore’s most acclaimed works. Set in over 70 acres of rolling countryside, the site hosts 23 monumental bronze sculptures, placed throughout the estate, orchards, and fields nearby.