The Matisse Commission

Recclesia Stained Glass was commissioned to recreate stained glass windows inspired by la Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence just north of Nice in the South of France. The original chapel was designed by Henri Matisse, including the stained glass and all of the internal details. Our client had commissioned the reproduction of the entire chapel on his estate just outside London UK. We were specifically chosen for the project on the basis of our ability to reproduce painted and stained glass.

The chapel was intended to be a faithful tribute to the original, meaning that attention to detail was vital. To this end, the entire studio team took a flight to Nice and spent two days at the chapel examining the windows in great detail. Using the information gathered, we were able to produce drawings and run trials with glass types and colours. Once all of the design details had been finalised, a second trip to Nice was taken in order to confirm our choices of glass, processing techniques and test light transmission.

Lamberts Glass of Germany were commissioned to blow all of the glass for the project. Lamberts produce some of the finest glass on the planet and it is by far our favourite glass to work with - both for its workability and its stunning appearance. All of the yellow glass in Matisse's original glass was acid etched, so we did the same and etched all of the Lambert's yellow flashed glass. The original yellow glass was quite varied in the depth of the etch, which gave a lovely texture to the glass - so we were of course careful to get the same result!

The completed stained glass is a masterpiece of attention to detail. Every detail was painstakingly recreated, from the delicate saddlebars and intersecting metalwork, to the rolled ties and jointing layout. Original imperfections in the windows became deliberate imperfections in ours, leading to a highly successful reproduction. All of the windows were marked with the Recclesia star logo, which also serves as our makers mark - just to avoid confusion for future generations.

As well as the East Window, which Matisse called his tree of life, the windows along the nave and behind the choir were also produced. The chapel is still under construction, so photos of the completed work will be posted at a later date. All of the windows are being artificially illuminated using a state of the art lighting system.

A word from the architect:

"I realised I have not written since the installation of the windows. I saw them last week and wanted to say how beautiful they look. You really have done a wonderful job. I would like to say that it has been a delight to 'discover' your company, to see a truly craft-based business in action, and to arrive at such a successful conclusion. Thank you all for your hard work, your care and attention to detail, and the rewarding pleasure of working with you".