Nice, Musée Matisse


It was only in the second half of his life that Henri Matisse discovered the Côte d’Azur. From Nice, via Cagnes-sur-Mer and Vence; Matisse found inspiration in the Nice area. An inspiration that today equates to him having left an indelible mark on our regions, through his work.


Henri Matisse discovered Nice at the age of 48. He literally fell in love with it. So much, that he remained here until the end of his life.

The painter would first establish himself at the Beau Rivage Hotel on the Promenade des Anglais in 1917. Won over by the locations, he established his workshop not far from there at 105 Quai des États-Unis. One year later, he chose to set up home in the Mediterranean and Côte d’Azur Hotel. The hotel rooms became the inspiration for his paintings, where he arranged his models, who he surrounded with frills: fabrics, flowers, objects, etc.

“A good, old hotel, of course! And what pretty Italian-style ceilings! What tiles! They were wrong to demolish the building. I stayed there for four years for the pleasure of painting nudes and figures in an old rococo lounge. Do you remember the light that you had through the blinds? It came from below like theatre footlights. Everything was false, absurd, marvellous, delicious.”

Henri Matisse in Art News Annual, 1952, reprised in Henri Matisse, Écrits et propos sur l’art, Paris, Hermann, 1971, p. 123


Cagnes-sur-Mer, it’s first and foremost the story of an… artistic…. friendship.

Matisse met the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir there for the first time in 1917, at his villa, Les Collettes. The connection between the two artists was immediate. Matisse therefore visited the painter regularly and thanks to these meetings would even better perceive the colour that is so specific to the Midi.

Matisse benefits from spending time in the tranquillity of Les Collettes villa and in particular in its garden, where of course, he in turn set up his easel.

The villa, a touching witness to one of the founders of impressionism, became the Municipal Renoir Museum in 1960. Remaining just as it was, a visit to this former villa promises you an immersion in the painters’ lives.

Located in the heart of the garden of flowers at the Les Collettes farm, the museum has eleven canvases and numerous sculptures by the painter.


In 1943 Matisse had to leave Nice due to the bombing that was being suffered by the capital of the Côte d’Azur. He therefore decided to set up in Vence at villa “Le Rêve”. He remained there for five years as he so loved being in the town of arts.

He liked hosting his friends Gide, Rouveyre, Picasso, Aragon, Breton and Bonnard.
Today, the villa has been transformed into a residential complex for confirmed or amateur artists with the aim of undertaking an internship in which they allow their art to express itself. Inspired by this concept, the Château de Villeneuve-Fondation Emile Hugues has become one of the hotspots of modern and contemporary art on the Côte d’Azur.

However, his time in Vance was above all marked by his masterpiece: the Rosaire [Rosary] chapel. On request from his friend, the Dominican nun Sister Jacques Marie, he in fact took on the entire decoration of the religious site. Four years would be needed to complete this chapel, designed as a total work of art.



Well before his departure for Vence in 1943, Matisse already had a penchant for Cimiez, where in 1931 he took possession of a garage turned into a workshop. The beautiful homes scatted along the boulevards bearing witness to the Belle Epoque irrefutably won the painter over.

A new purchase for Matisse; in 1936 he became the owner of two apartments in the Le Regina Hotel. Seduced by the monumental shape of the former home of Queen Victoria, he returned to lay down his hat in 1949; however, this time it would be in a bedroom-workshop, as the artist was now bedridden and handicapped. This was the time when he invented the cut paper technique.

In 1953, one year before his death, the artist donated some of his works to the town of Nice with a view to the creation of a museum…

Henri Matisse now rests in Cimiez cemetery.