The Rite of Spring
The Rite of Spring is a ballet and orchestral concert work by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky. It was written for the 1913 Paris season of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes company; when first performed at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on 29 May 1913, the avant-garde nature of the music and choreography caused a sensation. Many have called the first-night reaction a "riot" or "near-riot," though this wording did not come about until reviews of performances in 1924, over a decade later. Although designed as a work for the stage, with specific passages accompanying characters and action, the music achieved equal if not greater recognition as a concert piece and is considered to be one of the most influential musical works of the 20th century. Stravinsky was a young unknown composer when Diaghilev recruited him to create works for the Ballets Russes; the Rite was the third such project, after Petrushka. The concept behind The Rite of Spring, developed by Roerich from Stravinsky's outline idea, is suggested by its subtitle, "Pictures of Pagan Russia in Two Parts".
After a mixed critical reception for its original run and a short London tour, the ballet was not performed again until the 1920s, when a version choreographed by Léonide Massine replaced Nijinsky's original, which saw only eight performances. Massine's was the forerunner of many innovative productions directed by the world's leading ballet-masters, gaining the work worldwide acceptance. In the 1980s, Nijinsky's original choreography, long believed lost, was reconstructed by the Joffrey Ballet in Los Angeles. Stravinsky's score contains many novel features for its time, including experiments in tonality, rhythm and dissonance. Analysts have noted in the score a significant grounding in Russian folk music, a relationship Stravinsky tended to deny; the music influenced many of the 20th-century's leading composers and is one of the most recorded works in the classical repertoire. Igor Stravinsky was the son of Fyodor Stravinsky, the principal bass singer at the Imperial Opera, St Petersburg, Anna, née Kholodovskaya, a competent amateur singer and pianist from an old-established Russian family.
Fyodor's association with many of the leading figures in Russian music, including Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky, meant that Igor grew up in an intensely musical home. In 1901 Stravinsky began to study law at Saint Petersburg University while taking private lessons in harmony and counterpoint. Stravinsky worked under the guidance of Rimsky-Korsakov, having impressed him with some of his early compositional efforts. By the time of his mentor's death in 1908 Stravinsky had produced several works, among them a Piano Sonata in F♯ minor, a Symphony in E♭ major, which he catalogued as "Opus 1", a short orchestral piece, Feu d'artifice. In 1909 Feu d'artifice was performed at a concert in St. Petersburg. Among those in the audience was the impresario Sergei Diaghilev, who at that time was planning to introduce Russian music and art to western audiences. Like Stravinsky, Diaghilev had studied law, but had gravitated via journalism into the theatrical world. In 1907 he began his theatrical career by presenting five concerts in Paris.
In 1909, still in Paris, he launched the Ballets Russes with Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade. To present these works Diaghilev recruited the choreographer Michel Fokine, the designer Léon Bakst and the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Diaghilev's intention, was to produce new works in a distinctively 20th-century style, he was looking for fresh compositional talent. Having heard Feu d'artifice he approached Stravinsky with a request for help in orchestrating music by Chopin to create the ballet Les Sylphides. Stravinsky worked on the opening "Nocturne" and the closing "Valse Brillante". Stravinsky worked through the winter of 1909–10, in close association with Fokine, choreographing The Firebird. During this period Stravinsky made the acquaintance of Nijinsky who, although not dancing in the ballet, was a keen observer of its development. Stravinsky was uncomplimentary when recording his first impressions of the dancer, observing that he seemed immature and gauche for his age.
On the other hand, Stravinsky found Diaghilev an inspiration, "the essence of a great personality". The Firebird was premiered on 25 June 1910, with Tamara Karsavina in the main role, was a great public success; this ensured that the Diaghilev–Stravinsky collaboration would continue, in the first instance with Petrushka and The Rite of Spring. In a note to the conductor Serge Koussevitzky in February 1914, Stravinsky described The Rite of Spring as "a musical-choreographic work, pagan Russia... unified by a single idea: the mystery and great surge of the creative power of Spring". In his analysis of The Rite, Pieter van den Toorn writes that the work lacks a specific plot or narrative, should be considered as a succession of choreographed episodes; the French titles are given in the form given in the four-part piano score published in 1913. There have been numerous variants of the English translat
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, colloquially "the Met", is the largest art museum in the United States. With 6,953,927 visitors to its three locations in 2018, it was the third most visited art museum in the world, its permanent collection contains over two million works, divided among seventeen curatorial departments. The main building, on the eastern edge of Central Park along Museum Mile in Manhattan's Upper East Side is by area one of the world's largest art galleries. A much smaller second location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, contains an extensive collection of art and artifacts from Medieval Europe. On March 18, 2016, the museum opened the Met Breuer museum at Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; the permanent collection consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Oceanian and Islamic art.
The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments and accessories, as well as antique weapons and armor from around the world. Several notable interiors, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are installed in its galleries; the Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 for the purposes of opening a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, was located at 681 Fifth Avenue; the Met's permanent collection is curated by seventeen separate departments, each with a specialized staff of curators and scholars, as well as six dedicated conservation departments and a Department of Scientific Research. The permanent collection includes works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, an extensive collection of American and modern art; the Met maintains extensive holdings of African, Oceanian and Islamic art. The museum is home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments and accessories, antique weapons and armor from around the world.
A great number of period rooms, ranging from 1st-century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met's galleries. In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Met organizes and hosts large traveling shows throughout the year; the current chairman of the board, Daniel Brodsky, was elected in 2011 and became chairman three years after director Philippe de Montebello retired at the end of 2008. On March 1, 2017, the BBC reported that Daniel Weiss, the Met's president and COO, would temporarily act as CEO for the museum. Following the departure of Thomas P. Campbell as the Met's director and CEO on June 30, 2017, the search for a new director of the museum was assigned to the human resources firm Phillips Oppenheim to present a new candidate for the position "by the end of the fiscal year in June" of 2018; the next director will report to Weiss as the current president of the museum. In April 2018, Max Hollein was named director. Beginning in the late 19th century, the Met started acquiring ancient art and artifacts from the Near East.
From a few cuneiform tablets and seals, the Met's collection of Near Eastern art has grown to more than 7,000 pieces. Representing a history of the region beginning in the Neolithic Period and encompassing the fall of the Sasanian Empire and the end of Late Antiquity, the collection includes works from the Sumerian, Sasanian, Assyrian and Elamite cultures, as well as an extensive collection of unique Bronze Age objects; the highlights of the collection include a set of monumental stone lamassu, or guardian figures, from the Northwest Palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II. Though the Met first acquired a group of Peruvian antiquities in 1882, the museum did not begin a concerted effort to collect works from Africa and the Americas until 1969, when American businessman and philanthropist Nelson A. Rockefeller donated his more than 3,000-piece collection to the museum. Today, the Met's collection contains more than 11,000 pieces from sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Americas and is housed in the 40,000-square-foot Rockefeller Wing on the south end of the museum.
The collection ranges from 40,000-year-old indigenous Australian rock paintings, to a group of 15-foot-tall memorial poles carved by the Asmat people of New Guinea, to a priceless collection of ceremonial and personal objects from the Nigerian Court of Benin donated by Klaus Perls. The range of materials represented in the Africa and Americas collection is undoubtedly the widest of any department at the Met, including everything from precious metals to porcupine quills; the Met's Asian department holds a collection of Asian art, of more than 35,000 pieces, arguably the most comprehensive in the US. The collection dates back to the founding of the museum: many of the philanthropists who made the earliest gifts to the museum included Asian art in their collections. Today, an entire wing of the museum is dedicated to the Asian collection, spans 4,000 years of Asian art; every Asian civilization is represented in the Met's Asian department, the pieces on display include every type of decorative art, from painting and printmaking to sculpture and metalworking.
The department is well known for its comprehensive collection of Chinese calligraphy and painting, as well as for its Indian sculptures and Tibetan works, the arts of Burma and Thailand. All three ancient religions of India – Hinduism and Jainism – are well represented in these s
The Card Players
The Card Players is a series of oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. Painted during Cézanne's final period in the early 1890s, there are five paintings in the series; the versions vary in size, the number of players, the setting in which the game takes place. Cézanne completed numerous drawings and studies in preparation for The Card Players series. One version of The Card Players was sold in 2011 to the Royal Family of Qatar for a price variously estimated at between $250 million, it was thought to be sold to the Davis family out of Florida in the United States for a estimated $225 million usd. and as high as $300 million, either price signifying a new mark for highest price for a painting, not surpassed until November 2017. The series is considered by critics to be a cornerstone of Cézanne's art during the early-to-mid 1890s period, as well as a "prelude" to his final years, when he painted some of his most acclaimed work; each painting depicts Provençal peasants immersed in playing cards.
The subjects, all male, are displayed as studious within their card playing, eyes cast downward, intent on the game at hand. Cézanne adapted a motif from 17th-century Dutch and French genre painting which depicted card games with rowdy, drunken gamblers in taverns, replacing them instead with stone-faced tradesmen in a more simplified setting. Whereas previous paintings of the genre had illustrated heightened moments of drama, Cézanne's portraits have been noted for their lack of drama and conventional characterization. Other than an unused wine bottle in the two-player versions, there is an absence of drink and money, which were prominent fixtures of the 17th century genre. A painting by one of the Le Nain brothers, hung in an Aix-en-Provence museum near the artist's home, depicts card players and is cited as an inspiration for the works by Cézanne; the models for the paintings were local farmhands, some of whom worked on the Cézanne family estate, the Jas de Bouffan. Each scene is depicted as one of still concentration.
One critic described the scenes as "human still life", while another speculated that the men's intense focus on their game mirrors that of the painter's absorption in his art. While there are, in total, five paintings of card players by Cézanne, the final three works were similar in composition and number of players, causing them to sometimes be grouped together as one version; the exact dates of the paintings are uncertain, but it is long believed Cézanne began with larger canvases and pared down in size with successive versions, though research in recent years has cast doubt on this assumption. The largest version, painted between the years 1890–1892, is the most complex, with five figures on a 134.6 x 180.3 cm canvas. It features three card players at the forefront, seated in a semi-circle at a table, with two spectators behind. On the right side of the painting, seated behind the second man and to the right of the third, is a boy, eyes cast downward a fixed spectator of the game. Further back, on the left side between the first and second player is a man standing, back to the wall, smoking a pipe and awaiting his turn at the table.
It has been speculated Cézanne added the standing man to provide depth to the painting, as well as to draw the eye to the upper portion of the canvas. As with the other versions, it displays a suppressed storytelling of peasant men in loose-fitting garments with natural poses focused on their game. Writer Nicholas Wadley described a "tension in opposites", in which elements such as shifts of color and shadow, shape of hat, crease of cloth create a story of confrontation through opposition. Others have described an "alienation" displayed in the series to be most pronounced in this version; the painting is displayed by the Barnes Foundation museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A more condensed version of this painting with four figures, long thought to be the second version of The Card Players, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. At 65.4 x 81.9 cm, it is less than half the size of the Barnes painting. Here the composition remains the same, minus the boy, with viewers' perspective closer to the game, but with less space between the figures.
In the previous painting, the center player as well as the boy were hatless, whereas this version has all the men hatted. Gone are the shelf to the left with vase and lower half of a picture frame in the center of the wall, leaving only the four pipes and hanging cloth to join the smoking man behind the card players; the painting is brighter, than the larger version. X-ray and infrared studies of this version of The Card Players have shown layers of "speculative" graphite underdrawing, as well as heavy layers of worked oil paint suggesting it was the preliminary of Cézanne's two largest versions of the series, rather than the second version as believed; the underdrawing has led analysts to believe Cézanne had difficulty transferring the men painted individually in studies, onto one canvas. It has been speculated that Cézanne solved this "spatial conundrum" in the final three versions of The Card Players, by eliminating spectators and other "unnecessary detail" while displaying only the "absolute essentials": two players immersed in their game.
The scene has been described as balanced but asymmetrical, as well as symmetrical with the two players being each other's "partner in an agreed opposition". The man on the left is smoking a pipe
Homage to Cézanne
Homage to Cézanne is a painting in oil on canvas by the French artist Maurice Denis dating from 1900. It depicts a number of key figures from the once secret brotherhood of Les Nabis; the painting is a retrospective. In this painting, Maurice Denis has gathered a group of friends and critics to celebrate Paul Cézanne, represented by his still life Fruit Bowl and Apples of 1879–80 on an easel in the centre of the painting; the scene is the shop of the art dealer Ambroise Vollard in the Rue Laffitte. The Cézanne painting had belonged to Paul Gauguin, thus evoked, despite not being pictured, having left France permanently in 1895 for the South Seas. Gauguin described the Cézanne as "an exceptional pearl, the apple of my eye." Works by Gauguin and Renoir can be seen in the background. Pictured are many of the key figures from the secret brotherhood of the Nabis, for whom Gauguin was the principal mentor. Included are the symbolist painter Odilon Redon, the focus of attention on the far left, Paul Sérusier centre talking to Redon, at the back, left to right, Edouard Vuillard, the critic André Mellerio wearing a top hat, Ambroise Vollard behind the easel, Maurice Denis, Paul Ranson, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Pierre Bonnard with a pipe, on the far right Marthe Denis, Maurice's wife.
Redon is the respected elder figure of the group, set somewhat apart from the rest. It can be inferred from Sérusier's pose. Over time, Redon had come to be more associated with Cézanne than with Symbolist fellow traveller Gustave Moreau. Redon's inclusion in the picture is not surprising; the composition has strong verticals in the erect poses of the subjects, the easel and the walking stick, against which the brightly coloured rectangle of the framed still life is contrasted. The scene is crowded. Vollard is grasping the easel, bursting out of the top edge of the painting, the figures occupy the space of the canvas, leaving little room for anything else. Mrs Denis is reduced to peering over Bonnard's shoulder. Contrasting the strong verticals, the heads of the group provide a horizontal rhythm to the work; the conservative black suits belie the avant-garde reputation of the Nabis. Belinda Thomson described Homage to Cézanne as Denis "turning away from the more spectacular, subjective Symbolism of Gauguin and van Gogh towards what he saw as the reassertion of classical values in Cézanne."
Denis had visited Rome with Gide in 1898. He subsequently published articles such as "Cézanne" in 1907 and "De Gauguin et de Van Gogh au classicisme" in 1909 which argued that classicism was at the core of French cultural tradition. By doing so, he influenced a new generation of French artists. A possible antecedent for the work is A Studio at Les Batignolles by Henri Fantin-Latour, which features, amongst others, Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Émile Zola and Claude Monet. Homage to Cézanne was shown at the Salon de la Société nationale des beaux-arts, Paris, 1901, the Salon de la Libre Esthétique, Belgium, 1901, it was not shown again in an exhibition until 1948. Reactions in 1901 were mixed. Denis referred to the work in his diary as "that painting, which still makes the public laugh". Homage to Cézanne was in the collection of the writer André Gide who donated it to the Musée du Luxembourg in 1928, it entered three other collections in Paris: the Musée National d'Art Moderne, in 1977 The Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay.
A preparatory drawing is held in a private collection in Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Media related to Maurice Denis at Wikimedia Commons
Princeton University Art Museum
The Princeton University Art Museum is the Princeton University's gallery of art, located in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1882, it now houses over 92,000 works of art that range from antiquity to the contemporary period; the Princeton University Art Museum dedicates itself to supporting and enhancing the University's goals of teaching and service in fields of art and culture, as well as to serving regional communities and visitors from around the world. Its collections concentrate on the Mediterranean region, Western Europe, the United States, Latin America; the museum has a large collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, including ceramics, marbles and Roman mosaics from Princeton University's excavations in Antioch. Medieval Europe is represented by sculpture and stained glass; the collection of Western European paintings includes examples from the early Renaissance through the nineteenth century, there is a growing collection of twentieth-century and contemporary art. Photographic holdings are a particular strength, numbering over 27,000 works from the invention of daguerreotype in 1839 to the present.
The museum is noted for its Asian art gallery, which includes a wide collection of Chinese calligraphy, ancient bronze works, jade carvings, as well as porcelain selections. In addition to its collections, the museum mounts regular temporary exhibitions featuring works from its own holdings as well as loans made from public and private collections around the world. Admission is free and the museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Thursday, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 to 5:00 pm. A new building for the museum will be constructed on the same site over the course of three years starting in 2020 with David Adjaye serving as architect; the first art work owned and displayed by the College of New Jersey was a full-length portrait of Jonathan Belcher, the Governor of the province of New Jersey who had promoted the establishment of the College. The portrait was a donation from Belcher himself, given shortly before the College moved in 1756 to the newly built Nassau Hall.
It was joined by a portrait of King George II, who had issued the letters patent establishing the College. The two portraits hung in the central prayer hall, were displayed alongside various antiquities and objects of natural history; the two paintings were destroyed during the 1777 Battle of Princeton and further objects were lost in the 1802 Nassau Hall fire, but the College continued its commitment to collecting and teaching from works of art and historical note. The creation of the Art Museum in a more formal sense took place under the leadership of James McCosh, who served as president of the College of New Jersey from 1868–88; the Scottish McCosh brought with him from Europe new progressive academic disciplines, including the history of art. By 1882, McCosh charged William Cowper Prime, a Princeton alumnus and founding trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, George B. McClellan, the Civil War general and Governor of New Jersey, with creating a curriculum in the subject, they argued: "The foundation of any system of education in Historic Art must be in object study.
A museum of art objects is so necessary to the system that without it we are of opinion it would be of small utility to introduce the proposed department.” The intention was to go beyond the fields of art and classics to include, “many other branches of the collegiate course.” They anticipated, “large future growth,” as the College could “look with confidence to her sons, in all parts of the world,” for future donations. The museum, what is now the Department of Art and Archaeology, were formally created in 1882, with Allan Marquand, of the Princeton Class of 1874, serving as the inaugural lecturer in the new department and director of the museum, a position he would hold until his retirement in 1922. Marquand was instructor in Latin and logic at the College and was the son of Henry Gurdon Marquand, a major benefactor of the College and one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the collections of the museum were held in Nassau Hall, along with the growing natural history collection of professor Arnold Henry Guyot, part of, still on display in Guyot Hall.
A new purpose-built fireproof Romanesque Revival Museum was designed by A. Page Brown and completed in 1890 on the site of the current museum. On completion of the building the museum received the Trumball-Prime collection of pottery and porcelain from William Prime and his wife. Early additions included the purchase of a large collection of Cypriot pottery from the Metropolitan Museum in 1890, purchases of Etruscan and South Italian pottery. Marquand established an endowment from his own resources to enable further purchases and it was augmented by a donation from Edward Harkness. Frank Jewett Mather joined the faculty in 1910 and succeeded Marquand as museum director in 1922, he was a collector of Medieval and Renaissance art but led the university to large holdings of paintings and prints, including the 1933 bequest of several thousand objects by Junius Spencer Morgan II, of the Princeton Class of 1888. In 1923, the first of many expansions of the Art Museum was completed with the addition of the Venetian Gothic McCormick Hall, designed by Ralph Adams Cram and donated by the family of Cyrus McCormick, Jr.
Class of 1879 and Harold Fowler McCormick, Class of 1895. The new building enabled the older structure to be devoted to the museum, led to the creation of a hall of casts on the ground floor; as Marquand had before him, Mather augmented the museum's collections through the use of his personal fortune, with con
Portrait of Gustave Geffroy
Portrait of Gustave Geffroy is a c. 1895 painting by the French Post-Impressionist artist Paul Cézanne. It portrays Gustave Geffroy, a French novelist and art critic noted as one of the earliest historians of Impressionism. In March 1894, Geffroy wrote a sympathetic article in the periodical Le Journal praising the work of painter Paul Cézanne who until had received little praise in critical circles. Mutual friend Claude Monet arranged for a meeting between the two in November of that year which ended abruptly due to Cézanne's oft-noted erratic behavior. Nonetheless, Geffroy continued to write favorably of Cézanne, believing, "He is a great teller of truth. Passionate and candid and subtle, he will go to The Louvre." Cézanne expressed thanks in letters to Geffroy in the months following their meeting and, in a display of gratitude, he elected to paint Geffroy's portrait. The painter sent the critic a request in April 1895, after which Geffroy sat for Cézanne daily over a span of three months in the study at his home in Paris.
After the three months' time, Cézanne, disappointed with the portrait's results, fled both the painting and Paris itself for his home in Aix-en-Provence. In a July 6 letter to Monet, he explained, "I am a little upset at the meager result I obtained after so many sittings and successive bursts of enthusiasm and despair." It has been speculated that, despite his words of gratitude in the same letter to Monet noting Geffroy's patience over the three-month span, the artist had built up feelings of resentment hostility, toward the critic, causing his abandonment of the project for seclusion in Aix. Reasons for the breakdown in relations on Cézanne's part have been attributed to everything from politics to artistic principles to religion. Cézanne was unhappy with the painting and it was never finished, yet Portrait of Gustave Geffroy became a popular retrospective work after his death. Cubist painters were interested in the geometrical dimensions of the bookcase and perspective of vast table space in relation to the rest of the pictorial space.
Geffroy noted. The portrait has been described as angular, with the figure of Geffroy centered as a pyramidal or triangular figure, surrounded by shelves and figurines complementing and converging on top of his profile; the multiple angles of perspective with the books both in cases and on the table, have been noted for their "zig-zag" effect on the viewer, creating movement within the painting. The portrait has been noted as the continuation of a recurring Cézanne theme: people in their natural environment and unimposing, immersed in their everyday tasks, it has been compared to the earlier Portrait of Duranty by Edgar Degas, from which critics have speculated Cézanne drew inspiration. The painting was donated to the French state in 1969 by the family of collector Auguste Pellerin and is on permanent display at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Howard, Michael. Cézanne. New York: Gallery Books, 1990. ISBN 0-8317-2827-2 Murphy, Richard W; the World of Cézanne. New York: Time-Life Books, 1968. Newton, Joy.
Cézanne's Literary Incarnations. French Studies: A Quarterly Review 61.1, 2007. 36-46. Schapiro, Meyer. Cézanne. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1988. ISBN 0-8109-1043-8 Wadley, Nicholas. Cézanne and his art. New York: Galahad, 1975. ISBN 0-88365-248-X Portrait of Gustave Geffroy at the Musée d'Orsay
Aix-en-Provence, or Aix, is a city and commune in Southern France, about 30 km north of Marseille. A former capital of Provence, it is in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, of which it is a subprefecture; the population of Aix-en-Provence numbers 143,000. Its inhabitants are called Aixois or, less Aquisextains. Aix was founded in 123 BC by the Roman consul Sextius Calvinus, who gave his name to its springs, following the destruction of the nearby Gallic oppidum at Entremont. In 102 BC its vicinity was the scene of the Battle of Aquae Sextiae, where the Romans under Gaius Marius defeated the Cimbri and Teutones, with mass suicides among the captured women, which passed into Roman legends of Germanic heroism. In the 4th century AD it became the metropolis of Narbonensis Secunda, it was occupied by the Visigoths in 477. In the succeeding century, the town was plundered by the Franks and Lombards, was occupied by the Saracens in 731 and by Charles Martel in 737.
Aix, which during the Middle Ages was the capital of Provence, did not reach its zenith until after the 12th century, under the houses of Barcelona/Aragon and Anjou, it became an artistic centre and seat of learning. Aix passed to the crown of France with the rest of Provence in 1487, in 1501 Louis XII established there the parliament of Provence, which existed until 1789. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the town was the seat of the Intendance of Provence. Current archeological excavations in the Ville des Tours, a medieval suburb of Aix, have unearthed the remains of a Roman amphitheatre. A deposit of fossil bones from the Upper Continental Miocene gave rise to a Christian dragon legend. Aix-en-Provence is situated in the south of France, in a plain overlooking the Arc river, about a mile from the right bank of the river; the city slopes from north to south and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire can be seen to the east. Aix's position in the south of France gives it a warm climate, though more extreme than Marseille due to the inland location.
It has an average January temperature of 5 °C and a July average of 23 °C. It has an average of only 91 days of rain. While it is protected from the Mistral, Aix still experiences the cooler and gusty conditions it brings. Unlike most of France which has an oceanic climate, Aix-en-Provence has a Mediterranean climate; the Cours Mirabeau is a wide thoroughfare, planted with double rows of plane trees, bordered by fine houses and decorated by fountains. It follows the line of the old city wall, divides the town into two sections; the new town extends to the west. Situated on this avenue, lined on one side with banks and on the other with cafés, is the Deux Garçons, the most famous brasserie in Aix. Built in 1792, it was frequented by the likes of Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway; the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour is situated to the north in the medieval part of Aix. Built on the site of a former Roman forum and an adjacent basilica, it contains a mixture of all styles from the 5th to the 17th century, including a richly decorated portal in the Gothic style with doors elaborately carved in walnut.
The interior contains 16th-century tapestries, a 15th-century triptych, depicting King René and his wife on the side panels, as well as a Merovingian baptistery, its Renaissance dome supported by original Roman columns. The archbishop's palace and a Romanesque cloister adjoin the cathedral on its south side; the Archbishopric of Aix is now shared with Arles. Among its other public institutions, Aix has the second most important Appeal Court outside of Paris, located near the site of the former Palace of the Counts of Provence; the Hôtel de Ville, a building in the classical style of the middle of the 17th century, looks onto a picturesque square. It contains tapestries. At its side rises a handsome clock-tower erected in 1510. On the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville is the former Corn Exchange; this ornately decorated 18th-century building was designed by the Vallon brothers. Nearby are the remarkable thermal springs, containing lime and carbonic acid, that first drew the Romans to Aix and gave it the name Aquae Sextiae.
A spa was built in 1705 near the remains of the ancient Roman baths of Sextius. South of the Cours Mirabeau is the Quartier Mazarin; this residential district was constructed for the gentry of Aix by Archbishop Michele Mazzarino brother of Cardinal Jules Mazarin in the last half of the 17th century and contains several notable hôtels particuliers. The 13th-century church of Saint-Jean-de-Malte contains valuable pictures and a restored organ. Next to it is the Musée Granet, devoted to European sculpture. Aix is referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. Among the most notable are the 17th-century Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins in the Quartier Mazarin, designed by Jean-Claude Rambot, three of the fountains down the central Cours Mirabeau: At the top, a 19th-century fountain depicts the "good king" René holding the Muscat grapes that he introduced to Provence in the 15th century.