The painter Henri Matisse in 1941 he had to undergo surgery to stop intestinal cancer. Such an operation involved a long period of convalescence in which he had to hire a private nurse. That woman wasMonique Bourgeoisle, with whom he began to establish a sincere friendship
Furthermore, their paths would cross again a few years later, when the painter settled in Saint Paul de Vence, a village in the Provence. While she, who had already entered as a nun and changed her name toSister Jacques-Marie, was sent to a convent in that same town
Rosary Chapel Altar
The fact is that that Dominican convent was in a deplorable state and did not even have a good chapel, since they held the ceremonies in a garage. However, when the nun mentioned this situation to the painter,Matissedecided to subsidize a new chapel and create all the elements of it for her. And that the artist was a self-confessed atheist, but friendship and a new creative challenge encouraged him to do so.
The result is this Chapel of the Rosary in Saint Paul de Vence from 1951 where the stained glass windows, the ceramic murals, the altar, and even external elements such as the cross of the bell tower are created by Matisse. And that by then the painter's state of he alth was quite delicate, in fact there arephotographs in which he is seen working prostrate in bed. A job in which she was going to count on the invaluable help ofLydia Delectorskaya, who over the years had not only become her favorite model, but her love and her assistant.
In this way, Matisse created the designs. For example, for the stained glass windows, gouaches découpés were made, which were pieces of painted paper that his assistant then had to arrange in the correct position, to provide the base for the glass craftsmen who later materialized it. And the same thing happened with ceramics. Matisse only made the preliminary drawings so that later other painters he trusted could transfer them to the tiles.
Stained glass windows of the Rosary Chapel
In this way, some white ceramic murals were made with the illustrations based on a thick black line. There are several murals. One in front of the altar that represents the Via Crucis, and on another adjoining wall there are other scenes such as a Madonna or Santo Domingo. Always schematic figures and in black and white, which is wonderful in the case of Matisse, the great reference of color andFauvismthanks to his most emblematic works such as The Dance.
Where there is color is in the set of stained glass windows. In them he used three different colors: yellow, green and blue (sun, vegetation and sea). With it he makes his particular interpretation of the Apocalypse of Saint John, where his "Tree of Life" stands out, thanks to its colorfulshapes reminiscent of leaves, which dance, float or seem rocked by the wind and light. In addition to that it manages to bathe the interior of the temple in a very happy and special atmosphere. Surely that is the great achievement of this mature work, where Matisse paints with light a whole space of recollection and also of joy.