Established in 1811 by imperial decree (of Napoleon Bonaparte) at the bequest of local physician and collector Esprit Calvet – who bequeathed his private collection of art and antiquities to the city of Avignon – the Musée Calvet is a museum worth visiting.
Housed in the stately hôtel Villeneuve-Martignan, former residence of Joseph-Ignace de Villeneuve-Martignan (notice his coat of arms in the courtyard), the museum’s unique and diverse collection consists of cultural artifacts, Decorative Arts, and works of Fine Art. Artists represented in the collection include: Edouard Manet, Alfred Sisley, Chaïm Soutine, Louis-Michel Van Loo, Giorgio Vasari, and Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun (her work can also be seen in the collection of the New Orleans Museum of Art).
Enter the museum through the courtyard, which serves at times as a sculpture garden – where you’ll pass through the 19th century gilded wrought-iron gate emblazoned with the Avignon Coat of Arms.
Inside, you’re free to wander through the various rooms, some of which are decorated with marble floors and walls, ornate plasterwork, and glittering chandeliers.
Among the paintings and other artwork, objets d’art, and ancient artifacts on display, you’ll see:
Adoration of the Magi – after Hieronymus Bosch, 17th century;
Déchéance – Chaïm Soutine, ca. 1920;
The Procession of a Peasant Wedding – after Jan Bruegel the Elder, 17th century;
The Village Fair with theater and a procession – Pieter Bruegel the Younger;
View of the Old Port in Marseille – Mathieu Verdilhan;
Nature morte-Guitare et Chapeau (Still Life-Guitar and Hat) – Edouard Manet, 1862;
Fraîche Matinée, Partie de Plaisir (Fresh Morning, Pleasure Party) – Joseph Vernet, 18th century;