In its latest art-world dalliance, French parfumerie Guerlain has partnered with Maison Matisse on a limited-edition perfume bottle that pays homage to the venerated artist and the he painted
The centerpiece of the collaboration is Guerlain’s Bee Bottle, so named for the small bees—an emblem of the French empire—that master glassmaker Pochet du Courval carved into the original flacon in 1853, so as to be presentable to Empress Eugénie upon her marriage to Napoleon III.
The Bee Bottle—now an emblem of Guerlain—sees a colorful transformation for the new collaboration, inspired by Henri Matisse’s La Musique (1939). The painting, currently held by Buffalo AKG Art Museum in New York, emphasizes harmony and bonhomie in its depiction of two seated women, one of whom strums a guitar as the other enjoys it, while outsized philodendron leaves fan out behind them.
Each flacon, including its stopper, is hand-painted by Astrid de Chaillé, French decorative painter acclaimed for her restoration work at the Palace of Versailles and other historic sites. De Chaillé artfully recreates the bold colors and graphic shapes that make up .
“My great-grandfather’s works are very multi-sensory,” said Jean-Mathieu Matisse, founder of Maison Matisse and scion of the celebrated artist, to Artnet News. “His was a world full of plants and flowers, and they became recurring motifs in his work. Therefore, there are a lot of coherent connections between his work and the artistry of Guerlain perfume. We wanted to pass on the visual world that my great-grandfather created, drawing inspiration from the images, colors, and shapes of his works.”
Limited to 14 signed and numbered pieces, and priced accordingly ($17,000), the Bee Bottle Maison Matisse Edition comes packaged in a wooden case—a nod to the crates used for transporting art.
To go inside the reimagined bottle, Guerlain perfumers have crafted Couleur Bonheur, a new fragrance with dynamic, modern notes interpreting the lively hues of Matisse’s palette. In addition, Guerlain has launched Jasmin Bonheur as part of its “L’Art & La Matière” collection of fragrances, its inspiration taken from another of Matisse’s spirited works, Les Mille et Une Nuits (1951).
“Henri Matisse has become synonymous with happiness,” continued Matisse. “With his simplified brushstrokes he wanted to bring joyful emotions to life for everyone. The creations within this collaboration therefore evoke the same energy, daring, and warmth.”
The new offering follows on the heels of Guerlain’s partnership with the Yves Klein Foundation. To commemorate the 110th anniversary of Guerlain’s famed L’Heure Bleue scent, the foundation created an Art Nouveau-inspired bottle in velvety all-over International Klein Blue, the signature shade of ultramarine that the French artist patented in 1960.
On the contemporary art front, Guerlain also teamed up with Slovakian-born, Amsterdam-based artist Tomáš Libertíny, who literally works with bees in his pursuit of nature-based beauty. In honor of World Bee Day 2022, he created a living sculpture for Guerlain, a honeycomb that grew around a Bee Bottle over the course of a month.