In Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the house of the painter Maurice Denis reopens its doors

Maurice Denis lived there until his death in 1943. Now a museum, the painter’s home reopens today after three years of work.

Explain the intimate link uniting an artist to a place and, beyond that, to a city: this is the whole object of “Dreamed Happiness”, the exhibition marking the reopening, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, of the Maurice-Denis departmental museum, after three years of work. The most important – restoration of the surrounding walls and portals of the terrace, of the monumental staircase inside… – since its inauguration in 1980 in what was the painter’s last home. This, called Le Prieuré, was a former royal general hospital from the end of the 17th century. Maurice Denis settled in 1914 with his family in this imposing building, where he created most of his work. He also receives many friends and students there, in particular artists from the Nabis group, of which he is one of the initiators with Paul Sérusier.

In the nest of a nabi

“Little known fact, it is in Saint-Germain-en-Laye that the Nabis exhibited for the first time in groups, in 1891”, emphasizes Fabienne Stahl, responsible for promoting the museum’s collections. Maurice Denis was only 21 at the time, but his artistic vocation came to him very young, just like his ardent faith which will irrigate his work. “This theme of the sacred, we find it, sometimes a little hidden, in all parts of the exhibition”, comments Fabienne Stahl. Along the route through the restored rooms, where the play of colors and lighting nicely highlight the exhibited pieces, we follow the painter’s life in the different houses, four in all, that he occupied in Saint-Germain. -en-Laye. A chronology which, by comparing his personal life and his artistic career, shows to what extent the first has nourished the second.

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