As a reaction against the constricting teaching of the Parisienne École des Beaux Arts, the Grande Chaumière (academy of the large thatched cottage) was founded on the left bank of Paris in 1902, which at the time was the heart of forward thinking intellectual and artistic life.
I feel that it is a mythical place with Delacroix, Manet, Cezanne and Picasso participating in its creation. All that was provided was a model and warmth in the winter from the iron stove. Today, the heating is electric, but that seems to be the only change. Atmospheric and inspirational, the light filters in from the large, north facing windows that extend along an entire wall. The Grande Chaumière still offers ateliers libres each day, where there is no teaching, just excellent models. I go there as often as I can. They have a weekly one model, one pose, for each week day from 9 to 12. Then in the afternoons there are two sessions with both long and shorter poses for sketching and drawing. There are also session on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons and occasionally on Sunday they have special sessions and workshops, like portrait painting. I have been known to stay for all three sessions, one memorable day there was a tremendous thunderstorm after the first session, so I stayed as it seemed the only place to be. The light dimmed and the rain started to beat a refrain on the large windows. The occasions flash of sharp lightening only heighten the concentration in the room as people worked silently to try and represent the model in a truthful way. A mythical place.