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La Chapelle Matisse - Athilie


# 4 The Matisse Chapel


We could have told you about the sublime chapels decorated by the artists Cocteau or Picasso .

At Athilie we offer you a unique chapel since it is a modern construction carried out from A to Z by the painter Henri Matisse . We decided to highlight 5 numbers on cult places to visit that combine art, architecture and people through photos, testimonies, videos too little known by the general public. Here is an invitation in the last work of Henri Matisse, his artistic testament: the Matisse Chapel in Vence in the Alpes-Maritimes (06).

La Chapelle du Rosaire ou Chapelle Matisse, Vence (06)

The Rosary Chapel or Matisse Chapel, Vence (06)



The Rosary Chapel or Matisse Chapel is built in Vence located 20km from Nice between sea and mountains.

The Rosary Chapel will be born from the friendship between Henri Matisse and his nurse Monique Bourgeois, who will become her confidante and her model. In 1946, this young woman joined the orders of Saint Dominic and became Sister Jacques-Marie. Matisse thinks big and undertakes to offer a chapel to the Dominicans.

He fully designs the plans and each decorative element of the building (stained glass, ceramics, stalls, holy water fonts, objects of worship, ornaments, etc.). Supported by religious, advised by architects Auguste Perret and Milon de Peillon and solicits Venetian artisans. The foundation stone of the chapel is laid and blessed by Monseigneur Rémond, bishop of Nice, on December 11, 1949. On June 25, 1951 Monseigneur Rémond will inaugurate and bless the Chapel. Matisse, sick, was unable to attend this ceremony.

L'intérieur de la Chapelle Matisse, Vence (06)

The interior of the Matisse Chapel, Vence (06)

« This work required four years of exclusive and diligent work, and it is the result of my entire working life. I consider it despite all its imperfections as my masterpiece. »


La Chapelle du Rosaire ou Chapelle Matisse, Vence (06)-articles-la chapelle Matisse 4.j

The Rosary Chapel or Matisse Chapel, Vence (06)



In 1941, Matisse recovered from a serious operation, and on his return to his apartment in the Regina in Nice he hired Monique Bourgeois as a night nurse. She takes care of Matisse, reads it to him and shares a long discussion with him. Between them is established a friendly relationship marked by simplicity, frankness and humor. Matisse offers Monique Bourgeois to become a model for him, he will draw drawings and paintings including in particular L'Idole in December 1942, La Robe verte et les oranges in January 1943 and Tabac royal in March 1943.

The religious vocation of Monique Bourgeois asserts itself, she bids farewell to Matisse distraught by her decision. She entered the novitiate, took the Dominican habit and received the name of Sister Jacques-Marie. In Vence, the Dominican sisters had only a dilapidated old garage for a chapel. The sisters had plans to build a chapel. Sister Jacques-Marie draws a stained glass project representing the Assumption. She shows it to Matisse who encourages him to have this drawing made in stained glass.

The idea for the Matisse chapel was born.

Henri Matisse et Soeur Jacques-Marie

Henri Matisse and Sister Jacques-Marie

« I'm going to build your chapel and I'll take care of the stained glass! »


L'autel et les vitraux de la chapelle Matisse, Vence (06)

The altar and the stained glass windows of the Matisse chapel, Vence (06)



The exterior of the chapel, both simple and discreet, fits perfectly into the sunny landscape of Vence. The Matisse chapel is recognizable by its white and blue tiled roof but also by its wrought iron cross thirteen meters high, bearing crescent moon and golden flames.

The interior of the chapel is extremely pure and the magic takes place. The light and colors come from the yellow, green and blue stained glass. These huge stained glass windows flood the whitewashed walls with light every day. Three large works made with black lines on white ceramics decorate the walls of the chapel. Only the reflection of the stained glass colors these three compositions: "Saint Dominic", "The Virgin and Child", and the "Way of the Cross".

Adjacent to the chapel is a gallery which presents a rich collection of preparatory drawings, as well as chasuble models specially designed by Matisse for the chapel.

La vierge et l'enfant, Henry Matisse

The Virgin and Child, Henri Matisse

«  I have always tried to hide my efforts, I always wanted my works to have the lightness and gaiety of spring which never lets suspect the work it cost. »


Henri Matisse dans la chapelle, Vence (06)

Henri Matisse in the chapel, Vence (06)

At the end of confinement, meet in this sublime Matisse Chapel, 466 Avenue Henri Matisse, 06140 Vence . As a bonus, the Matisse museums in Nice and the Cateau-Cambrésis have rooms dedicated to preparatory drawings (stained glass, chasubles, frescoes, etc.) and models of the Rosary Chapel.


Thanks to the Matisse chapel , Vence , Matisse Museum in Nice , Matisse Museum in Cateau-Cambrésis

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