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Woman with Blue Bodice, 1935, oil on canvas, 46.0x33.0cm
A glamorous young woman sits in a red armchair. She is wearing a sleeveless costume of black stripes on a blue ground with daring décolletage and bright red stockings. The model is Lydia Nikolayevna Delektorskaya, a Russian who began working as Matisse’s model in 1936 and later became his secretary, assistant, and friend. In 1936, the Japanese artist Hazama Inosuke visited Matisse’s studio, saw this painting, and asked him to submit it to the Nika Exhibition. Matisse gave his willing consent, and this work was displayed in the autumn Nika Exhibition that year.
Dancer on a Divan, 1927, lithograph, 29.0x46.5cm
During his lifetime, Matisse produced over 800 prints, making printmaking a mainstay of his creative work. He began by experimenting with copperplate prints at the start of the 20 century and continued to work in a variety of printmaking techniques, up through the pochoir prints in Jazz, a work of his final years. In contrast to vividly colorful print works such as Jazz and his similarly colorful oil paintings, the majority of his prints were monochrome. Nonetheless, this print of a dancer slumbering deeply on a sofa somehow evokes Matisse’s brilliant colors.
Odalisque, 1927, lithograph, 55.5x46.8cm
This work was created in Nice during the winter of 1925-26. It is one of a series of odalisques on which Matisse focused during this period. The chair and the model are posed on the diagonal, intersecting the vertical orientation of the decorative background. The human figure is voluptuous, but the decorative character of the composition as a whole makes the treatment of the subject ambiguous. As in the 1921 Odalisque with Arms Raised, the model has boldly crossed her arms above her head, in a pose that the artist favored during this period.
Collioure, 1905, oil on cardboard, 24.5x32.4cm
Collioure is a commune in the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern France. It is located in a picturesque setting facing the Mediterranean Sea and just 20 km from the border between France and Spain. Matisse spent the summer of 1905 there with Andre Derain and produced his first group of purely Fauvist works. This small work painted on heavy paper is a truly impressive example of Matisse’s uninhibited brushwork and bold use of color when addressing the natural beauty of southern France.
Nude in the Studio, 1899, oil on paper, 66.3x50.5cm
A nude woman with a majestic body stands on a stage in the middle of the room. In the background, we can glimpse the artist painting her. The warm oranges of the model’s body and the greens in the background are complementary colors, intensifying her vivid presence. Matisse’s use of pointillist brushwork in this painting shows the influence of Neo-Impressionism, but the artist’s experimentation with strong colors and his placement of colors suggest that he is moving toward becoming a Fauve. It was during this period that Matisse’s colleague Marquet, apparently working at an easel side-by-side with Matisse, painted his Fauvist Nude (Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux).
Repose in the Woods, 1923, oil on canvas, 59.0x72.0cm, On loan from a private collection
From the 1920s on, Nice was the center of Matisse’s artistic activities. There he began to experiment with creating gorgeous, open spaces, bathed in the brilliant light found in the south of France. Here a reddish brown path winds its way through the green trees from the lower left to the top of the painting, emphasizing the depth of the composition. Reclining on a rattan lounge chair that seems to have been placed along the path is a woman, her arms crossed, wearing a flower-decorated hat. A book is open on her knees. She seems to be relaxing and enjoying nature. From this period, women reclining in natural settings became one of Matisse’s classic motifs.
Reclining Nude, 1919, oil on canvasboard, 32.9x40.8cm
Throughout Matisse’s life, women were always an important motif. Among his paintings of women, most employed the “reclining nude,” a traditional subject in Western painting. In this painting, we see a long-haired woman relaxed in an abandoned pose on a sofa in a luxurious room, her head pointed in the opposite direction from what we would expect. Her body harmonizes with the colors surrounding it, while her voluptuousness is accented by the curved lines and highlights surrounding it. Here the artist’s interest in how the body is portrayed is graphically displayed.
Rocks in the Valley of the Loup, 1925, oil on canvas, 38.3x47.0cm
The Loup is a river in southern France. Located east of La Colle-sur-Loup about 40km from Nice, it flows into the Mediterranean near Villeneuve-Loubet. The banks of the river are famous for their rich greenery and are now protected as a nature preserve in the Prealpes d'Azur regional park. Matisse, who was based in Nice during the 1920s, was only one of the many artists who have painted this landscape. During this period, Matisse left behind Fauvist expressionism and experimented with faithful reproduction of his subject using color planes to construct the picture plane.
Still Life with Plaster Torso, 1927, oil on canvas, 52.0×64.0cm
In the majority of Matisse’s works, the subjects are the human figure or interiors with windows. For this artist, however, still lifes were another important theme. Matisse’s interest in the masters was demonstrated by his purchase of Cézanne’s Three Bathers (1879-82, Petit Palais, Paris) from his own dealer, Ambroise Vollard, in his early period. This work appears to be related to the plaster figures that appear in still lifes by Cézanne. That said, the use of vivid, decorative color to which Matisse turned after moving to the south of France shows us the artist groping for his own distinctive style.
Striped Jacket, 1914, oil on canvas, 123.6x68.4cm
The model for this portrait of a young woman wearing a jacket with striking blue stripes, a stylish necklace, and a hat decorated with a flower was the painter’s beloved daughter Marguerite. During the period in which Matisse produced this painting, he had left Paris after the outbreak of World War to live Collioure in the south of France. There he was reunited with his Fauve comrade Albert Marquet and met Juan Gris, an exemplar of the Cubist movement. During this period, contact with his friends and colleagues inspired Matisse to experiment with a variety of styles of painting. In this work, we see his interest in images constructed using simple lines and flat color planes.
Odalisque with Arms Raised, 1921, oil on canvasboard, 45.9x38.2cm
During Matisse’s Nice period in the 1920s, he frequently painted images of elegant, sensuous women. “Odalisque” originally meant a female slave in the harem of the Ottoman sultan. The odalisque became a new subject in depictions of women from the late 18th century on, as Orientalism, Europe’s growing fascination with the East, arose. The Neoclassicist Ingres, the Romanticist Delacroix, and the Impressionist Renoir all painted odalisques. Matisse was also fond of this theme and used it repeatedly in his work. The voluptuous woman and the flat, decorative background form a single, seamless space.
Lulu and a Puppy, 1931, ink on paper, 55.4x44.8cm
While displaying an extraordinary mastery of color, Matisse was also a superb draughtsman. He produced a great number of sketches, some as preparatory drawings for paintings, others as finished works. He used a variety of subjects as his motifs, but the most important was the human. Here we see a woman in her bathroom with her pet puppy. The detail captured in the fine lines is captivating. This work was shown in the Henri Matisse exhibition held in Tokyo in 1951; Matisse himself cooperated in holding that exhibition at the request of Hazama Inosuke.