Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence

Nice, France

Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence

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The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (Chapel of the Rosary), often referred to as the Matisse Chapel or the Vence Chapel, is a small Catholic chapel located in the town of Vence on the French Riviera. It was dedicated to the Dominican Order. The church was built and decorated between 1947 and 1951 under a plan devised by Henri Matisse. It houses a number of Matisse originals and was regarded by Matisse himself as his "masterpiece". While the simple white exterior has drawn mixed reviews from casual observers, some regard it as one of the great religious structures of the 20th century.

In 1941, Matisse, who lived most of the year in Nice in the south of France, developed cancer and underwent surgery. During the long recovery he was particularly helped by a young part-time nurse, Monique Bourgeois, who had answered his advertisement seeking "a young and pretty nurse". Matisse asked her to pose for him, which she did for several drawings and paintings. In 1943 Bourgeois entered the Dominican convent in Vence, a nearby town, and became Sister Jacques-Marie. Matisse eventually bought a home at Vence, not far from the convent where the young nun was stationed. She visited him and told him of the plans the Dominicans had to build a chapel beside the girls' high school which they operated in Vence. She asked Matisse if he would help with the design of the chapel. He had never done anything like it, but Matisse agreed to help, beginning in 1947. Father Marie-Alain Couturier, who collaborated on several artistic Catholic churches after World War II, was also involved in the project.




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