Sunday, April 26, 2015

Chagall and Matisse

The site which drew us to the Côté d'Azur was the Chapelle du Rosaire decorated by Matisse.  But since we were driving over an hour to reach the chapel in Vence we decided to start with the Musée  Marc Chagall in Nice. Since Danielle and Pierre were expecting company in the evening, we decided that the only way to fit the trip into the day was to start early. We left the apartment by 8:30, and it was shortly after 9 when we got on the A8 in the direction of Nice under a fine, gray rain. 

When we arrived in Nice we combined the power of the GPS with the signs indicating the museum, and found our way easily. Pierre dropped us off and discovered the well hidden parking lot behind the museum garden

We were stunned by the rich collection displayed on the white walls. The collection of large paintings based on Old Testament stories spoke powerfully. The colors were deep; the images were provocative, and we returned frequently to our favorites. 

One room housed five rose colored paintings based on texts from the Song of Solomon.  

There were also many tapestries woven at the Gobelin Manufacture designed by Yvette Cauquille-Prince under Chagall's direction, which translated smaller paintings into large tapestries. 
 Installed in the auditorium three stained glass panels filtered the light, and a large mosaic covered one exterior wall. 
A documentary about Chagall's life  included many short interviews, showing the personality from which such creativity sprang. Needless to say we spent more time than expected and only the rumbling of our stomachs impelled us to head to Vence.

We drove right to the center of the town, and parked in an underground garage. Since it was nearly two we chose a brasserie which advertised non stop service. The Salade du chèvre chard was perfect, but I only thought of photographing it when the plate was cleared. 

After we had eaten we were thinking more clearly and realized that the chapel was not next to the restaurant. We did search out the cathedral with a Chagall mosaic from 1971 and walked through the old part of town. 

But to see the chapel we decided to drive. 

We were not disappointed in Matisse.  He had designed this small chapel for the religious community of the Rosaire. He had a personal connection with the nuns who had cared for him when he was seriously ill.  This chapel was his way of thanking them

I have few photos because they did not allow pictures in the chapel. The walls are all white with three sets of windows in beautiful shades of green, blue and yellow. It was cloudy when we were there, but the guide told us that as the sun shines through the glass only the blue and green colors show on the floor. The yellow disappears in the sunlight. 

Matisse also designed the altar and all the utensils for mass. Even the vestments were his design. 

Our guide was a tiny Asian nun who spoke with great respect and sincerity. We left the site with a sense of peace and joy. We felt that we were in a place of holiness rather than at a tourist spot. 

The drive back to Aix was smooth but we knew the timetable for dinner was going to be tight.  When we got there Danielle and Pierre set the lamb shoulder to turn on the rotisserie in the oven just high enough to clear the potatoes roasting on the bottom shelf. I set the table and chopped vegetables.  

Daniele's menu went together beautifully. There were nine of us at the table,  and the evening was a great success.  Pierre and Peter finished in the kitchen and Daniele and I collapsed in bed. 

Everyone slept late the next morning

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