Saint-Tropez was still a small fishing town when Matisse stayed there with his wife and four-year-old son from mid-July through mid-October 1904. There, he painted the plain facade of the seventeenth-century chapel of Saint Joseph against the intense blue Mediterranean sky. The shadowy area in the foreground, however, which appears to represent a low enclosure, is painted with less resolved strokes of paint that continue up the right edge of the canvas and into the foliage at the upper right corner. The painting’s delicate palette and contrasts of light and dark, finished and spontaneously executed non finito passages, reflect Matisse’s aim to merge the immediacy of inspiration he derived from plein-air painting with his vision of an art of "balance, of purity and serenity." The work remained with Matisse’s heirs until 2002.
Inscription: Signed (lower right): H. Matisse
the artist (1904–d. 1954; his estate, 1955; in June 1955 to P. Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1955–d. 1989); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)
Los Angeles. UCLA Art Galleries. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," January 5–February 27, 1966, no. 17.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," March 11–April 24, 1966, no. 17.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," May 11–June 26, 1966, no. 17.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Henri Matisse: Exposition du centenaire," April 21–September 21, 1970, no. 56.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Henri Matisse: A Retrospective," September 24, 1992–January 12, 1993, extended to January 19, 1993, no. 43.
Turin. Palazzo Bricherasio. "I fauves e la critica, uno scandalo annunciato," February 5–May 16, 1999, no. 15.
Musée de Lodève. "Les Fauves et la critique," May 28–September 26, 1999, no. 15.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.
Museo Picasso Málaga. "La Colección Pierre y Maria-Gaetana Matisse en The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York," March 26–June 24, 2007, no. 21.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. "Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible," March 18–September 4, 2016, unnumbered cat. (pl. 126).
Mario Luzi and Massimo Carrà. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Matisse, 1904–1928. Paris, 1982, p. 86, no. 28, ill.
Jack Flam. Matisse: The Man and His Art, 1869–1918. Ithaca, 1986, pp. 112, 114, pl. 98.
Sophie Monneret. Matisse. Paris, 1994, p. 88, no. 36, ill.
Laurent Leroy. "Le Fauvisme et la critique." L'Humanité (September 18, 1999).
Pierre Schneider. Matisse. Rev. ed. (English ed., 1984). Paris, 2002, p. 193.
William S. Lieberman in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), PP. 26–27.
David Minthorn. "Met Unveils Gifts from Matisse Son." Deseret News (May 23, 2004).
Marina Ferretti-Bocquillon. "Matisse et le néo-impressionisme: 'Extirper tout ce que la division du ton avait dans la peu"." Henri Matisse: Èmerveillement pour le Sud. Exh. cat., Musée de Saint-Tropez. Saint-Tropez, 2004, p. 34, 38–39, figs. 16, 18.
Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 83–84, 158, ill. (color), reproduces a photograph of the Chapel of Saint-Joseph.
Eva Reifert inUnfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art [The Met Breuer]. New York, 2016, p. 300, colorpl. 126.