Henri Matisse’s seaside home in Nice, France, the site of a prolific period of painting during the latter part of his career, can now be yours—for the price of $2.69 million.
Matisse lived and worked out of the palatial apartment, situated on the top floor of the iconic Régina in the city’s Cimiez neighborhood, for some 10 years, starting in 1938. It’s obvious why he was in no hurry to leave: the space boasts soaring ceilings, a delicately carved fireplace, and bow windows that open to the ultramarine French Riviera. The pictures provided by Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty are enough to make one’s own Brooklyn apartment seem like a rat trap of no release.
“Most come here for the light and the picturesque beauty (or scenery),” Matisse wrote in 1952. “I am from the North. The large colorful reflections in January, the brightness of the day are what attracted me to settle here.”
Matisse relocated to Cimiez around 1917, and rented rooms in various apartments around the city before purchasing his flat in the former Regina hotel. There, he pursued a languid variation on the neoclassical painting; World War I had recently ended, and with it his appetite for avant-gardism.
Instead, he painted sumptuous still-lifes, nudes, and interiors, and, after a trip to Morocco in 1922, he became enthralled with the odalisque tradition, a genre of Orientalist art featuring eroticized depictions of harems and (presumed) sex workers. Among his most famous from this series is Odalisque Couchée aux Magnolias, painted a year after his return from North Africa. (The work was once owned by Peggy and David Rockefeller and sold at Christie’s New York in 2018 for $80.8 million.)
Matisse spent the final decade and a half of his life as an invalid following an abdominal surgery—a “second life,” he called it. From within his hotel room, he developed his most radically innovative art form: the cutout. Gouache-painted paper was cut into organic and geometric shapes and arranged into dynamic compositions that sometimes laterally wrapped the length of his apartment and spilled into the dining room at the Hôtel Régina. Matisse died in 1954, with Nice proving to be his last, longest love affair.
“Do you remember the light that came through the shutters? It came from below like a theatre ramp,” he wrote of the Hôtel de la Méditerrannée, one of his many homes, in 1952. “Everything was fake, absurd, amazing, delicious.”