General Isenbart was the last private owner of the Hôtel de Caumont. Having undertaken the restoration of the residence out of love for the property, he sold it to the city of Aix-en-Provence. The building then became the Darius Milhaud National Conservatoire of Music and Dance.
By the beginning of the Second World War, the mansion has completely lost its former glory. It had been divided into several apartments run by Hélène Ardevol (1892-1976), who was the building superintendent and a member of the Resistance. She bravely sheltered many Resistance fighters at the mansion before it was seized by the authorities.
Pauline de Caumont died without an heir. She designated her cousin Louis-Charles de Bruny as the sole heir of the residence. The latter sold the property shortly thereafter. The property then changed hands a number of times and its condition gradually deteriorated.
Following the death of François de Bruny, his son Jean-Baptiste inherited the residence. A keen art collector, botanist and member of the painting academy of Marseille, the latter collected numerous artworks in his Aix residence, as well as minerals and fossils. The Hôtel de Bruny was the setting for countless parties, attended by the elite and the city’s wealthiest residents. However, this carefree ambiance would soon come to an abrupt end with the French Revolution.
Unfortunately, the family were not in possession of the private mansion for very long. For financial reasons they were forced to sell it to François Bruny de la Tour-d'Aigues, the richest ship-owner, merchant and banker of Marseilles. The residence changed name to the Hôtel de Bruny.
The death of François Rolland de Réauville did not put an end to the project. Thanks to Robert de Cotte’s design, the former’s descendants pursued the construction of the residence which would be completed some thirty years after the death of the Marquis.
In the seventeenth century, the city of Aix-en-Provence experienced a large increase in its population. Archbishop Michel Mazarin, brother of the famous cardinal, oversaw the expansion of the city with the creation of the Mazarin quarter, laid out in a chequerboard pattern with the Place des Quatre-Dauphins at its heart. A veritable ‘luxury district’ boasting some magnificent architecture, and home to members of parliament and the wealthy upper classes, the district would become the stage of various ambitions—religious, political and private.
Following the sale of the Hôtel de Caumont, the property was acquired by Culturespaces.
Under the guidance of the Museums and Heritage Department of the City of Aix-en-Provence, and with the help of historians, heritage architects and specialised restorers, a detailed assessment was carried out in order to determine the extent and nature of the renovation work needed to restore the residence to its former glory.
Following the death of Jean-Baptiste Jérôme de Bruny, the mansion was left to his son Marie-Jean-Joseph who died shortly afterwards in poverty in Rouen, where he had fled persecution from the revolutionaries. His sister, Pauline, inherited the house. Shortly before this, Pauline had married the Marquis de Caumont, Amable Seytres. The residence once again changed names: it was now the Hôtel de Caumont. Upon his marriage, the Marquis famously boasted of ‘having won Provence's most beautiful girl, its most beautiful mansion, and its largest fortune’.
François Rolland de Réauville, the Marquis de Cabannes, sought to build a mansion worthy of his position as second President of the Court of Auditors at Aix-en-Provence in the new Mazarin quarter. He therefore asked Robert de Cotte, head architect and administrator of the Bâtiments du Roi [Royal Residences], to design a mansion for him that would stand out from the other houses in the area.