Candles marketed to men usually smell of musk (“the animal in you”), wood (the untamed wilderness), musky-woods (hunting deer in the untamed wilderness), leather (baseball mitt!), vetiver (cut grass), even hamburgers (White Castle), but all those supposedly manly candle aromas smell like so many roses and chocolate-covered marshmallows compared to perfumer Olivia Giacobetti’s Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne candle; it’s the most “masculine,” austere-severe candle scent I’ve ever smelled. Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne is downright UNcomfortable; as I sniff it, I feel an ancient bottle of flammable fluid in a rusty tin bottle is on the verge of igniting, a storm of dust bunnies might suffocate me, or dry-rot could cause the floor under my feet to collapse.
Need I say…I love it?
The Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne aroma was created for the artist Vincent Beaurin and his Le Spectre installation at Paul Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence last July and August. The PR materials say it all:
Nothing has changed in this ancient studio since Paul Cézanne passed away and his paintings were removed. Time has laid a veil of fine dust over it, as the Provençal heat has almost mineralized the wood of the furniture, of his easel and of the floorboards, long stained with colours, oil paints and turpentine.
Giacobetti has worked with Beaurin twice before* and was asked, this time, to concoct a perfume that captured the “essence” of Cézanne‘s workspace; Giacobetti used fragrance notes such as “linen” (I’m guessing flaxseed/linseed oil was used for this note), Alaska cypress and beeswax.
The scent of Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne is minimalist. Giacobetti does not do anything elaborate, or romantic, here: the scents of Cézanne’s pipe, and of still life subjects (apples, pears, oranges or floral bouquets) are absent. There are no aromas of the Provençal landscape outside the studio. Giacobetti presents an artist’s studio that has been closed, almost airless, for a long time…there are scents of dust, old, dry wood and oil.
As I smell the burning Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne candle, I detect a spooky aroma from my past. My grandmother kept Victorian-era hurricane lamps handy for power outages, and those glass lamps, full of oil, their thick cotton wicks aflame, smelled a lot like Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne. I also detect hints of wood scent, but this wood smells more like brittle chalk than a sap-rich, living tree in the forest or a piece of freshly harvested lumber. There is also a touch of utilitarian (Emergency!) candles…there’s nothing fancy (sweet or honey-like) in these tapers.
Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne is a candle to light the imagination; especially if your imagination finds flickering images in the shadows, and hears muffled voices in the stillness.
The Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne candle (made with Diptyque wax) burns cleanly and (almost) evenly — let the entire top of the candle liquify with each burn to avoid an uneven candle surface. Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne’s throw is best suited to single rooms, not large spaces. To burn this candle in a room with windows open to fresh air is to waste its effect of conjuring closed spaces and solitude; Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne is a candle for the bedside table where you can enjoy it up close. The candle comes in a padded, brown-paper envelope and includes a round, cardboard candle coaster in the same color as the walls in Cézanne‘s studio. Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne is available in the U.S. at Luckyscent; $60 (approx. 55-hr. burn time).
Look here for the complete story of the Dans l’Atelier de Cézanne candle and for a list of retailers in Europe who stock it. The candle is permanently available at the Atelier Cézanne gift shop in Aix-en-Provence. The candle stands in stark contrast to Cézanne’s bold, color-saturated paintings, and I’d love to know how the candle is selling (I doubt it will appeal to a large audience).