Palace of the Bahia (MARRAKECH 1932-33)
By Elizabeth Klein Lacroix, 1934
We found our first home in the Palace of the Bahia, where two French artists welcomed us to our studio.
A great bunch of dates hung from a cord, there was mint tea to drink. I think we smoke a pipe of Kif, too. Armand Lacroix was a student in sculpture from the Paris Beaux Arts Institute, sent down for a year’s study in Africa. Jules Lellouche came from Tunis, where his reputation as painter was already valuable. Thus we found ourselves immediately thrown into inspiring surroundings and most inspiring friendship.
The Bahia, « The Magnificent » was the palace of Moulay Hassan’s reign, constructed in 1873 by his black grand vizier. Within its walls are gardens, courts, pools, and many houses. The décoration was the joy of Bah Ahmed’s last days, and after his death the palace was held only for a short time by certain caids. Now it is the Residence, that is, the home of the French resident-General of Marocco when he visits Marrakech. Here also are received all distinguished persons, guests of the goverment. At other times the palace is little inhabited. There are : the adjutant, the director of the Beaux Arts, a group of Arab prisoners who work out their termes there, and a group of artists.
The studios are against the wall at the end of a garden. There are palm trees and flowers and vine-covered walls,
a lovely latticed door opening into a larger garden where are giant eucalyptus trees, then the flower garden fragrant with mimosa, and the great marble court.
I have tried to draw a diagram showing our approach to the studios, but immediately lose myself in a labyrinth, as I did then. Enter a dark nigth. There is no light. Turn left along a narrow passage. Turn left, you arrive in a little court where there is a tree in the center and many roks to fall over. Then feel the wall until you find another door; you hear the cluck-cluck all right, this is where the hens are. Then the odor of rabbits. Then the most difficult stetch, a narrow passage with a slight turning, a few steps up, and then the sky of stars and the open garden. In the studios, one candle, two, or three, if you haven’t forgotten; a pitcher of water, if you haven’t forgotten. Two bed.