Dogs at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nice

August 8, 2012

 A gallery visit and some surprise dogs

My sketch of Michel de Tarkowsky’s bronze sculpture, “Les deux amis”, 1901

Nice is a perfect holiday destination for artists. This part of southern France is renowned for its wonderful natural light and has traditionally been a destination for those who wish to paint outdoors. Even if you do not intend to pick up a paintbrush, Nice and the surrounding areas are worth visiting for the numerous public and private galleries and the local artistic atmosphere.

Within Nice itself, we visited the Chagall Museum and the Matisse Museum. My family then dropped me off at the Musée des Beaux-Arts and escaped to the beach, just a short walk away.

Above: The historic building of  the Beaux-Arts museum in Nice

Even in tourist season, the Beaux Arts museum is fairly quiet and tranquil. I enjoyed the fun colours of the pastels and oil paintings by Jules Chéret, and the paintings by Raoul Dufy.

There are numerous sculptures, including one of a boy and his dog by Michel de Tarkowsky. I initially dismissed this as overly sentimental, but something about the pose reminded me of how my own little boy used to hold Freddy, our gentle old Border terrier. I did a little pencil sketch of the sculpture (see the top of this post). The trusting way in which the dog rests his chin on the boy’s hand, the child’s distant expression, and the relaxed crossing over of feet and paws all struck me as extremely believable. Is there a story behind this sculpture? I wonder who the little boy was. Please do add a comment if you know.

I eventually wandered out of the fine building with a vague plan to sit and read in the grounds for a little while. The museum is set in a little park which is open to all.  I found myself in a dog-enthusiast wonderland. This turns out to be the place where locals come, each with a beautiful pure-bred dog, to sit on a circle of park benches and converse in a most civilised manner.

The dogs are mostly off-lead and take this opportunity to socialise amongst themselves. The atmosphere reminded me of the film, “The Lady and the Tramp”, in which the dogs from the nice part of town meet each day for a kindly chat.

There was a little Bulldog…

two very fine Bassett hounds…

a very characterful Pug dog

and several others including a fluffy white Spitz-type dog, a Golden Retriever and a slightly growly little hairy thing.

At 6pm, someone came out of the museum to remind us all that it was closing time. People gathered up their dogs and wandered off home, while I walked to the nearby beach to rejoin my family.



Musée des Beaux-Arts website

A general guide to Nice on Wikitravel here

My beach sketches from this part of France here


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