Matisse in Vence

Reblogged: Written by Margaret Clare in Provence-Alpes for thegoodlifefrance

Nestling into the hillside above the little town of Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes lies the Chapelle du Rosaire or, as it is often called, the Matisse Chapelle de Vence.  Henri Matisse lived in Vence after the war when he was recovering from illness. The district in which the Chapelle is located in the town is now called Matisse District…

Vence – in the footsteps of Matisse

Matisse, recovering from an abdominal operation, advertised for a young and pretty nurse to assist him. Monique Bourgeois, the nurse who fulfilled the role, later became his model and eventually a Dominican nun in the convent in Vence.
Sister Jacques-Marie as she became, retained her friendship with the artist and later asked him to help design a Chapel that the nuns could use for their devotions. The Mother Superior frowned upon this relationship – but the project carried on regardless.

Matisse wrote that he did not choose the work for the Chapel, but instead he believed he was chosen by fate – it was an expression of spirituality. He believed that God had given artists the beautiful light to compose their paintings and this was his way of sharing – through this sacred commission. Although Matisse had been born a Catholic he was an atheist – but the Chapel gave him a chance to realise his life’s work.  When completed, he stated that it was ‘his life’s masterpiece’.

The Chapelle’s design is centered on the light, which he used in all its glory. The luminosity of the sun streams through the stained glass windows, which reflect the colours of Provence – blue for the azure sea and sky, green for verdant grasses and yellow for the plentiful sun. The walls are covered in white ceramic tiles, which have the figures of the Madonna and Child and St Dominique in his robes painted on them. The Stations of the Cross are represented as a tableau – black on white tiling. The pain and suffering is clearly portrayed in this Composition. The result when the sun streams through the windows means the colours are painted onto the white tiles – producing a dancing, ever changing artwork.

Everything inside the Chapelle and outside was included in this, his end of life, task. The altar, the crucifix, the roof tiles and the mystical spirals on the roof which are almost oriental in appearance. The roof tiles are a luxuriant blue – in complete contrast to the usual Provencal ochre tiles.

Matisse completed this work in 1951 and died in Nice in 1954. Sister Jacques-Marie was given the final punishment for her friendship with the artist – she was forbidden from attending his funeral.

The Chapelle is located next to the Dominican convent and on the side facing the Convent is a Roundel painted into the Apex – 2 entwined, nude figures, male and female. I smile wryly when I see this as I feel it was Henri Matisse’s final arrow for the disapproving nuns – they would forever have to look upon a slightly risqué painting….

Video of the Chapel by BBC Presenter Alastair Sooke – who was moved to tears by the beauty of the little Chapelle and its significance in the life of Matisse and all that it portrays:

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Versailles, Les secrets des Rois

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Video (4 minutes – in French)  HERE

BUT if you watch it on YouTube, you can click on the CC box to choose video subtitles in other languages!

 

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Christmas in Nice

The Christmas Village willl take place from 6th December 2014 to 4th January 2015 in the heart of Nice, on the Place Massena.
Every day from 11 am to 8 pm (9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), come and admire the illuminations, do your Christmas shopping at the crafts chalets or go for a spin on the skating-rink.

FULL ARTICLE & VIDEO:
Christmas in Nice.

Coaraze – A Sundial Village (les cadrons solaires)

entrance signCoaraze map“Coaraze, classé « un plus beau village de France », est situé à 44 kms de Cagnes, en amont de Contes, à 667 m d’altitude.  Le village est bâti, au XV° siècle, sur un piton gréseux qui domine la vallée du Paillon. et il est devenu célèbre pour ses cadrans solaires réalisés à partir de 1960 à la demande du Maire de l’époque. Jean Cocteau, entre autres, y a apporté sa contribution.”  (credit: AVF)

Classified as one of the most beautiful villages of France, Coaraze is a 15th century village, 25 km. north of North & perched at 650m alt. – called the sun village due to its sun-dials.  The winding cobble-stone streets take you through sunny squares bursting with flowers and lead on to show you the houses of stone, or painted in the Italian fashion of blue, pink, or yellow pastels. Interesting architectural details in the medieval village: lintels, doors and windows, semi-circular vaults, and entrances.

Churches:  St. Sebastien chapel 14thc. church and Chapelle Notre Dame du Gressier – the blue chapel decorated by Ponce de Leon.

Blue chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coaraze is the world champion in the game of pilou currently has the youngest mayor in France, and he is an artist and a poet.

The sundials of:  Cocteau, Valentin, Mona Christie, Doukine, Ponce de Leon, Henri Goetz.

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“How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you
can only connect them looking backwards. So you
have to trust that the dots will somehow connect
in your future. You have to trust in something –
your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because
believing that the dots will connect down the road
will give you the confidence to follow your heart
even when it leads you off the well worn path;
and that will make all the difference.” – Steve Jobs

“How would you really enjoy spending your life?”

 

How one woman followed her dream: