Henri Matisse’s painting, “Luxe, calme, et volupté,” (1904) represents a peak of the Fauvist movement. It has loose, staccato strokes that heighten the torrid subject matter: a summer morning’s swim party in St. Tropez on the French Riviera. The palette of bold and saturated gelato colors bathe the scene in an earthly feeling of intense beauty and peacefulness where nature and culture are in balance. Tea on a picnic blanket awaits the bathers, though not one of the lines in the painting are straight or solid or real.
The title means richness, peace, and sensual delight. It is taken from Charles Baudelaire’s lyric poem and rallying call for passion and sensitivity to countervail against modernity turning existence bland and colorless.
Matisse evokes Baudelaire to show what it looks like when pleasure surrounds, outside of time, in a lit up landscape that is neither cityscape nor wilderness, but a getaway where the land, sky, sea, and vegetation glow and shimmer.
His painting was a touchstone at the turn of the century for being in nature, in an electrified and civilized way.
We have a new standard for this quality, in our time. It’s not a painting and its exoticism doesn’t need augmentation with Old World “Oriental splendor”; it’s an actual place that you can visit.
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain (2009) is one of eight properties to be named in the Forbes 2018 Guide to both the “Most Luxurious Hotels in the World” and “Most Luxurious Spas on Earth” lists.
To be fully alive at any point in time is to feel life intensely and peacefully, in nature.
“La, tout n’est qu’ordre et beauté
Luxe, calme et volupté
There, there is nothing else but grace and measure,
Richness, peace, and sensual delight.”
--Charles Baudelaire, “L'invitation au voyage” from Fleurs du Mal (1857)
The Forbes Travel Guide's 8 Wonders of the Travel World (properties on both "Most Luxurious Hotels in the World" and "Most Luxurious Spas on Earth" lists)
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona
Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Puerto Rico
Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
The Ritz-Carlton, Macau, China
Nuwa, Manila, Philippines
Rosewood Mayakoba, Riviera Maya, Mexico
Salamander Resort & Spa, Middleburg, Virginia