Laurel and Associates, Ltd. – Madison, WI

Thursday in Nice

Thursday in Nice

On September 15, 2016, Posted by , In Travelogue, By , With Comments Off on Thursday in Nice


My clothing did not dry, so I had to wear long pants again. The weather forecast was for 78 but it was way hotter than that…

For our last day in Nice and in France, we took the bus to the Matisse Museum. While we waited for it to open, Christine (our wonderful docent about Picasso yesterday) took us for a walk in the gardens of a monastery right next door. Even in the autumn, there were lots of fragrant roses, a multitude of different colored flowers, orange trees, pomegranate trees, olive trees, and enormous magnolia trees. There was also a spectacular view of the city of Nice, right past a formal herb garden.

She explained how you can tell if a church is Dominican by two things. First, Christ is not shown on the cross- he has his arms to the side but he also has wings. Second, there is a motif of crossed arms.

The cross we were looking at that had these symbols also had a pelican and three fish. The “pelican in her piety’ in heraldry and symbolical art, is a representation of a pelican in the act of wounding her breast in order to nourish her young with her blood a practice fabulously attributed to the bird.”

The three fish, however, had nothing to do with the Dominicans or religion in general. They were the symbol of the family that donated the cross!

We also saw quite a bit of Roman ruins.

We went into the Matisse museum, where Christine showed us his evolution as an artist as he copied other painters and experimented with different techniques. I wasn’t aware that he also sculpted, which she said he did for fun. Some looked similar to Rodin. He also experimented, drawing sketch after sketch after sketch until he captured what he wanted.

Matisse also did this with some of his sculptures. There was a series of four sculpted heads of a woman. The first was lifelike, the second started to exaggerate some of her features, and by the fourth, she was almost a caricature. She said that Matisse tried to simplify his art to get to the essence of the person or object.

We saw more sketches that we had seen in the chapel yesterday, as well as examples of his cut outs, which I prefer to his other work. You can see some at

He was recovering from an operation and couldn’t sit or stand and paint, so he began to cut out shapes in different colors. Then he had someone arrange them to his satisfaction. There was one wall completely covered with different flower and fruit shapes in vibrant orange, yellow, green, and blue- which he designed the year before he died at 84. There is more information about his life and work at

Next, back on the bus to drive a short distance to the Chagall museum. Chagall was alive when the museum was built, so he determined how his paintings should be arranged.

“The national Marc Chagall museum, was created by the artist’s will to bring together in one purpose-built place his most important biblical works: the 17 paintings which make up the Biblical Message. It is organized around the set of works produced by the painter on the Old Testament theme. The museum offers the visitor a first room containing twelve large-size paintings illustrating the first two books of the Old Testament, Genesis and Exodus. In a second, smaller hexagonal room are five compositions on the theme of the Song of Songs, another Old Testament book.”

Having seen the Chagall light show in the quarry, I was prepared to simply appreciate his use of colors. But Christine explained the biblical significance of each painting and pointed out all of the symbols and motifs he used in most of his paintings.

Marc Chagall was born in a small Hassidic community on the outskirts of Vitebsk, Belarus. He incorporated his village into most of his biblical paintings, as well as:

A flying fish
A mother holding a child with no face (until Christ is on the cross, when the child suddenly has a face)
Lovers shown fused together so you see three legs instead of four
A Jewish wanderer
David playing the harp
Christ on the cross (even though Chagall was Jewish)
Two yellow antenna or horn-like appendages on the top of Moses’ head which signified his connection to God
Adam and Eve
A donkey

Just listing these does no justice to the paintings, each of which tell different stories along each border, at each corner, and within the paintings. Colors also held great significance for Chagall.
You can see these biblical paintings at

Actually, these paintings are small tableaux drawn from larger paintings. Imagine 6-8 of these together. For example,
is in the lower left hand corner of one painting.

If you look closely at this painting when Adam and

Eve are cast out of Eden, you can see many of his different motifs:

Here is one of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments:

Again, none of this captures the feel and the colors of the originals- and you need Christine to explain them!!!

We also saw some of his stained glass, which is exquisite.

Back on the bus to the hotel, then to lunch with Sue, Glen, LaDonna and Joan before Sue and Glen had to leave. After we said our good- byes, LaDonna, Joan and I walked back to Massena Square.

On our way, we stopped into an enormous department store that had two floors partially full of handbags! I’ve never seen so many in my life!They, as well as everything else, were very pricey.

LaDonna found a floor plan- the ground floor was 0, the second floor up was 1, etc. and that is how it has been in every hotel here. The elevators also have -1 to go to the basement. Pretty confusing.

Anyway, she didn’t find what she was looking for (a small 2017 calendar with the Eiffel Tower on the front), so we went on. I was able to take photos of the 7 men on poles who represent the 7 continents having a conversation (although it eludes me how they are supposed to be communing with each other when they don’t all face each other).

I was also able to take photos of the front side of the Apollo with horses on his head. What a stitch (and he wasn’t wearing any!) A bad pun, I realize.

Next it was definitely time to have glace, and this place provided two scoops for 2.50 EU, so I had coconut and dark chocolate. Just wonderful!

We walked past two buildings with trompe l’oeil windows and shutters and flowers- I thought it was real until Joan and LaDonna pointed out they were painted. The Matisse Museum also had trompe l’oeil windows and embellishments on the front and also on the ceilings, so they looked as ornate as the real embellishments we’ve seen.

Joan wanted to walk on the Promenade and that is what I thought we were really going to do. Instead, Joan’s and LaDonna’s voyeurism came to the fore as they watched the bathers on the beach to see the topless women (we only saw three) and Joan watched three young men change from their swimsuits to shorts…

Anyway, then we walked back to the hotel.

I’ve got to end this because it is time to get ready to leave for our tour farewell dinner.



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