Henri Matisse's Chapel of the Rosary, Part 2

by Mary Elizabeth Podles

Matisse next turned his hand to the Ave mural, an image of the Madonna, to whom the rosary is addressed. He tried out images from the Litany of Loreto, which is generally recited after the rosary and evokes the Virgin in lyrical terms ("Mystical rose, Tower of David, Tower of ivory, House of gold, Ark of the covenant, Gate of heaven, Morning star"). One drawing, illustrating the phrase "Vessel of honor," makes a curious vase shape of Mary's dress; Matisse abandoned that design as unsuccessful. In the end, he settles upon "Queen assumed into heaven," at first surrounded by roses, but in . . .

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Mary Elizabeth Podles is the retired curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She and her husband Leon, a Touchstone senior editor, have six children and live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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