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Additional info for A Journey into Matisse's South of France
Although summers can be unbearably hot, the Transmontal wind blows from west to east down out of the mountains and through the streets of the village below in every season, and the cooling breeze pushes the clouds from the mountains out to sea quickly, so light reflects not just off the water but off the rapidly moving clouds as well. ” 40 The sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of Collioure are part France, part Spain, and a little Algiers—the result of geography and a long and complicated series of invasions.
Collioure and the surrounding region, known as Catalonia, were absorbed as part of Majorca in the thirteenth century and as a part of Aragon in the fourteenth. In 1493, the village became part of Spain; under the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, it became part of France and served as the summer retreat of kings until the mid-eighteenth century. The industry begun by the Templars continued to thrive for the locals, who built their life and work around the port. 41 A Journey into Matisse’s South of France Strangers in Town arrival of the train, strangers came to town more frequently, but still primarily for business.
Although the majority of the cathedral was rebuilt at the same time as the chateau, the village’s ancient lighthouse, said to have been built by the Moors, became the cathedral’s bell tower and is Collioure’s most enduring landmark. Inside the cathedral are five renowned Spanish Baroque altars created between 1699 and 1720, with intricately carved wooden figures and dioramas of scriptural scenes with delicately painted backgrounds. Matisse and Derain featured the exterior of the cathedral in nearly all of their Collioure landscapes, and sketches of the intricate altars filled their notebooks by summer’s end.