Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence by Henri Matisse

our visit to the iconic Rosary Chapel in the South of France...

In summer of 1951, artist Henri Matisse went to Paris to see the Notre Dame Cathedral: "the immense crowds, heads as far as one could see, the architecture, the stained-glass windows and at times, the waves of the music of the organ passing over the heads was most impressive. Upon leaving, I said to myself: Very well! All of this considered, what is my chapel? And then I thought: it is a flower. It is only a flower, but it is a flower."

At the end of last year, we added Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence to our itinerary in the South of France, and spent a warm and quiet morning wandering through said flower...

The small white chapel was decorated in thoughtful and unique details, a signature to Matisse's vision. One wall was covered in reflective ceramic tiles, with a mother and child painted in black. The opposing wall was accented in blue and yellow stained glass windows that bounced their coloured light throughout the chapel's interior. The chapel's furniture was sparse but regal, and covered in delicate antique embroidered cotton cloths. Although we were unable to use our cameras inside the chapel, we did sit for a long time and soak in the chapel's beauty.
The Rosary Chapel, Saint Paul de Vence.
"The role of decorative painting is to enlarge the surfaces, in order for one to no longer feel the wall's dimensions. I was able to simultaneously bring together architecture, stained glass windows, large wall drawings on ceramics and melt all these elements into a perfect unity." — H. Matisse

Upstairs to the chapel, a library of priest garments were on display in life sized glass boxes. The Priest's chasubles and accessories were made by the Dominican Sisters of Crépieux, near Lyon, specialists in liturgical clothing.

The fabric chosen: silk poplin, the colours were decided by Matisse, notes of his reading the combinations for: rose, bleu, blanc, noir, et vert.

The Priest's chasubles designed by Matisse.
Fabric boards and colour notes from Henri Matisse.
The working space for the chapel's interiors.
"The chapel for me is the outcome of a whole lifetime of work and the blooming of an enormous, sincere, difficult effort. It is not a work I chose to do, but one for which I was chosen by destiny at the end of my road, that I continue according to my research, while the chapel offers me the opportunity to fix and assemble what I have discovered." — H. Matisse, 1951.
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