A dual anniversary for the Vatican Museums - and especially for the Collection of Contemporary Art - which on 22 and 25 June will celebrate both the tenth anniversary of the installation of the Matisse Room (Vatican, 22 June 2011) and the seventieth anniversary of the blessing of the Chapel of the Rosary of Vence (France, 25 June 1951), whose final sketches for the L'Arbre de vie stained glass windows are kept in the Pope’s Museums, in the Matisse Room.
Also on display, among the precious works relating to the design phase of the Chapel, is the life-size preparatory cartoon for the ceramics of the presbytery depicting La Vierge à l'Enfant, which, together with the sketches, entered the Vatican Collections in 1980 thanks to a donation from the artist's son, Pierre Matisse.
These extraordinary monumental works are accompanied by a bronze casting of the Crucifix for the altar, donated by the Dominican Sisters of Vence in 1973, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Collection at the behest of Pope Paul VI.
Of particular interest along the exhibition route is the Matisse Display Case which, as an introduction to the Room, displays a rich selection of lithographs of the Virgin and handwritten letters, together with the colourful chasubles specially designed by the artist for the celebrations in the Chapel.
On the day of the blessing of the Chapelle du Rosaire, Henri Matisse presented his work to the Bishop of Nice with these words: ''Your Grace, Allow me in all humbleness to present you the Chapel of the Rosary of the Dominican Sisters of Vence. It has taken me four years of exclusive and assiduous labor, and it is the outcome of my entire active life. Despite all its imperfections I consider it my masterpiece”.