Friday, September 10, 2010

Holiday Report Part 2, Matisse, Chapelle Du Rosaire De Vence

I am a great admirer of Matisse and have for a long time wanted to go and visit 'his masterpiece' the Chapel of the rosary in Vence.  We got the opportunity on Wednesday, the original plan was to visit the Chapel in the morning and then drive down the road to St Paul de Vence for lunch at 'La Colombe d'Or' but due to timing and circumstances this plan went awry.

After a long lazy lunch and then quite a long drive through the windy roads of Provence we finally reached the Chapel with only half an hour to spare before it closed.  It is tiny but beautiful in it's simplicity the style of Matisse is stamped all over it.  The stained glass is especially stunning and our friends, who are currently building a house in Provence were fascinated by the stained glass, they would like to incorporate some in their house, they certainly got inspired by this beautiful Chapel.



 Here is the story... 

In 1941, Matisse, who lived most of the year in Nice in the south of France, developed cancer and underwent surgery. During the long recovery he was particularly helped by a young part-time nurse, Monique Bourgeois, who had answered his ad seeking "a young and pretty nurse" and who took care of Matisse with great tenderness. Matisse asked her to pose for him, which she did, and several drawings and paintings exist.

 
Monique Bourgeois, Matisse

In 1943 Monique decided to enter the Dominican convent in Vence, a nearby hill town to Nice, and she became Sister Jacques-Marie. Matisse eventually bought a home at Vence, not far from the convent where the young nun was stationed. She visited him and told him of the plans the Dominicans had to build a chapel beside the girls' high school which they operated in Vence. She asked Matisse if he would help with the design of the chapel. He had never done anything like it, but Matisse agreed to help, beginning in 1947. Father Marie-Alain Couturier, who collaborated on several artistic Catholic churches after World War II, was also involved in the project.



Matisse and Sister Jacques-Marie

At the age of 77, Matisse began the greatest project of his life and spent more than 4 years working on the chapel, its architecture, its stained glass windows, its interior furnishings, its murals, and the vestments of the priests. It is perhaps the greatest ensemble artwork of the 20th century, and certainly the greatest religious commission. While Matisse had been baptized a Catholic, he had not practiced the religion for many years. He designed the chapel as an artistic challenge.










The Former Girls High School, Next Door To The Chapel









The View From The Chapel

The story of the friendship and collaboration of Matisse and Sister Jacques Marie is related in her 1992 book Henri Matisse: La Chapelle de Vence  and in the 2003 documentary Model for Matisse. Sister Jacques Marie died in 2004, aged 84.


19 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful place...it is years since we were there and you brought it all back!
    With updates!

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  2. Dash - I did a week-long course in stained glass and look about the blue, gold and green windows with huge respect.

    Manipulating the lead into such tight curves is NOT easy!

    I particularly like the madonna/child line drawing on the sign outside the chapel.

    Very beautiful.

    Ali x

    PS - this might be a duplicate post, pls delete. Am having trouble with blogger today!

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  3. I've said so often that I have to return to St Paul de Vence and when we do indeed hit the place - well I'm going to walk in your footsteps and go off piste to this chapel. What gorgeous pics.

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  4. Thank you for this post! Fabulous story - wonderful chapel- your photos are stunning!

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  5. thank you for telling about this chapel. It's now on my bucket list...Matisse is a big inspiration to me...with him it was all about color...the windows are magnificent!

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  6. I can't decide which I like more, the story or the architecture! You always have the most interesting tidbits to share. More please!

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  7. Great post.Enjoyed very much your personal view of Matisse.
    Its a beautiful area with a particular light all its own.

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  8. Dear Dash, what a lovely post. I saw a BBC documentary on Matisse and they went to the chapel. I thought it was absolutely stunning. The way the light comes through those beautiful windows. The colours were quite breathtaking. Great to hear about your adventures. I hope you're having a lovely weekend xx

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  9. Dear Dash, what a lovely post. I saw a BBC documentary on Matisse and they went to the chapel. I thought it was absolutely stunning. The way the light comes through those beautiful windows. The colours were quite breathtaking. Great to hear about your adventures. I hope you're having a lovely weekend xx

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  10. Those yellow and blue stained windows are startlingly beautiful.
    Sharon

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  11. I wonder whether Sister's book is still in print. I must check as that would be an interesting read. Thanks for another lovely post.

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  12. What a lovely little chapel. I must go there if I'm ever up that way. The colours are stunning.

    A fascinating story too.

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  13. How fascinating Dash
    St Paul de Vence as one of my favourite places in France.. but sadly I never made it here. thanks for the photos and this fascinating back story.. xxx Julie

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  14. "Due to timing and circumstances this plan went awry", as all plans in Provence should.
    You enjoy life, I admire you for that.
    Much love, David

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  15. I love all the photos and the colours .. the light is amazing xx

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  16. Thanks for sharing this interesting story about Matisse - hope I'll still take on new projects at that age!

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  17. What a wonderful post! You tell the story so well, Dash. I wish I could see the chapel for myself - I've only been to Venice once (very briefly). Must go back!

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  18. Very artistic and extravagant! My mom is fascinated with unique stained windows from different churches, and I'm sure she will love this!

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