Monique in Gray Robe by Henri Matisse
Matisse Chapel by Faith Ringgold
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1 Blessed is the one who considers the poor [or weak]!
In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him;
2 the Lord protects him and keeps him alive;
he is called blessed in the land;
you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
3 The Lord sustains him on his sickbed;
in his illness you restore him to full health.
4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
heal me [my soul], for I have sinned against you!”
5 My enemies say of me in malice,
“When will he die, and his name perish?”
6 And when one comes to see me, he utters empty words,
while his heart gathers iniquity;
when he goes out, he tells it abroad.
7 All who hate me whisper together about me;
they imagine the worst for me [they devise evil against me].
8 They say, “A deadly thing is poured out [has fastened] on him;
he will not rise again from where he lies.”
9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
and raise me up, that I may repay them!
11 By this I know that you delight in me:
my enemy will not shout in triumph over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
and set me in your presence forever.
13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.
Generous Christian care, honest fellowship, a need for a place of prayer in a rest home - Light created from a ramshackle garage.
She propped up his pillows, read to him and took walks with him; her wit and plainspoken, straightforward conversation concreted their friendship. Their friendship would culminate in the creation Henri Matisse considered his life’s greatest achievement: the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, France.
When her assignment ended, he asked her to pose for him, and she reluctantly consented. Henri Matisse - master of the expressive language of color and drawing, displayed a body of work spanning over a half-century, recognized as a leading figure in modern art. "As a painter he loved the splendid mass of her dark hair and the way her neck rose from her shoulders like a white tower," Hilary Spurling, his biographer, wrote. “She learned a lot from him, and he found her stimulating, funny, and touching,” says Matisse biographer Hilary Spurling. On discovering that his nurse was an amateur artist, Matisse taught her about perspective. When he asked her opinion of his paintings and drawings, she replied, “Monsieur, I like the colors a lot, but the drawings not so much.” Matisse approved of her candid answer and repeated it several times.
"I was rather surprised, for I had never been considered a beauty," she wrote in a 1993 book about their friendship. "Monique in Gray Robe." "It was just lines and blobs of color," she said. She sat for three other oil paintings: "The Idol," "Green Dress and Oranges" and "Tabac Royal."
As Monique recovered from tuberculosis at a Dominican-run rest home her patient, Matisse, reappeared in her life. Henri Matisse moved in across the street. Around the same time, and disregarding Matisse's counsel, she entered a distant Dominican convent in 1943 as a novice, named Sister Jacques-Marie. “He was horrified,” says Spurling, adding that Matisse was “a completely secular person who tried hard to dissuade her.” In an impassioned exchange of letters on the subject, Matisse wrote to his former nurse: “I do not need any lectures about religious calling. I’ve not needed the sacraments to glorify the name of God throughout my life. I went as far as Tahiti to admire the beauty of the light He created so I might share it with others through my work.”
In 1946, Ms. Spurling's book, "Matisse the Master," said the lonely Matisse "found warmth and comfort in the uncomplicated affection" of the nun. In a letter to his friend Andre Rouveyre, Matisse likened his near-flirtation with Sister Jacques-Marie to a “fleur-tation,” because “what takes place between us is like a shower of flowers—rose petals that we throw at each other.” Sister Jacques-Marie sketched an Assumption for Matisse and he urged her to turn it into a stained-glass window. It happened that the rest home, Foyer Lacordaire, was hoping to convert a ramshackle garage used for prayer into a full-fledged chapel, and Matisse wondered if displaying the window could help raise money.
With help from a monk at the rest home, Matisse roughed out a sketch for a chapel, and Sister Jacques-Marie made the working model. Soon Matisse immersed himself in every aspect of the chapel, from the brushstroke sketches of a Stations of the Cross mural to the vestments and the slender Crucifixion altarpiece. The stained-glass windows, with one pair, "Tree of Life," suggestive of a flowering cactus, are regarded as particular triumphs; they allow lemon-yellow, bottle-green and blue light to play capriciously against white-tiled walls and the marble floor.
Sister Jacques-Marie did preliminary design work and offered candid evaluations. As important, she ran interference with her local superior, who disapproved of a chapel designed by an artist known for his nudes. In the end, Matisse described the chapel as "their shared project." Sister Jacques-Marie told Matisse she believed he was inspired by God Almighty. The Chapel of the Rosary is flooded with dazzling sunlight.
The Vatican displays Matisse created Stations of the Cross, wall decorations, furniture, stained-glass windows, even the vestments and altar cloths, for the Dominican chapel in Vence. Three large-scale drawings, all more than five meters high and drawn to scale, form the basis for the Tree of Life stained glass behind the altar and the Virgin and Child depiction created on ceramic panels in the chapel’s presbytery. The works are currently in conservation, as glue used to attach backing panels pre-1980 has seeped through to the surface of the drawings. Five silk chasubles (the outer vestments worn by clergy during Mass) in a variety of colors, and a bell-tower bronze cross, all made by Matisse, will also go on view at the Vatican in 2011.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.