Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire in Vence, France


At left: The Tree of Life, stained glass. At right: St. Dominic, ceramic tiles. 1950.

Maquette for red chasuble (front) designed for the Chapel
Gouache on paper, cut-and-pasted, 133.4 x 198.4 cm
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Vestments as designed for the Chapel

Vestments as designed for the Chapel

The Chapelle du Saint-Marie du Rosaire (Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary), often referred to as the Matisse Chapel or the Vence Chapel is a small chapel built for Dominican nuns. It was built in the small town of Vence on the French Riviera between 1949 and 1951 under an architectural plan proposed by Henri Matisse (December 31, 1869 – November 3, 1954).

Everything from the stained-glass windows to the priests robes were meticulously designed and made by Matisse for the Dominican nuns who nursed him back to health after a serious illness.

Henri Matisse devoted four years of his life to designing the Vence Chapel, his "crowning achievement," as he himself stated on several occasions.

Sister Jacques-Marie, the woman Matisse called “the true initiator of the chapel,” died in 2004, aged 84 years. At Sister Jacques-Marie’s funeral in the Vence chapel, which was attended by Matisse family members, her coffin was surrounded by masses of anemones, the artist’s favorite flower and the inspiration for the chapel’s candelabra.

Behind the altar is a large image of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Dominicans and by tradition founder of the practice of the rosary.

On the side wall there are abstract images of flowers and an image of the Madonna and Child, all created in black outlines on the white tiles.

The motif for a "sapphire blue, emerald green and lemon yellow" window in Henri Matisse's Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) in Vence, France, was inspired by the "prickly pear fig,"




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