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Henri Matisse, French, (1869–1954)
Woman, 1925
Ink on Paper
3 5/16 in. x 4 9/16 in. (8.41 cm x 11.59 cm)

Object Type: Print
Technique: Etching
Credit Line: Gift of Merle Armitage
Accession Number: AR30

Black ink etching on ivory paper; matted.

Object Description
Henri Matisse, leader of the Fauve’s, which included, Andre Derain, George Roualult, and Maurice de Vlaminck, was born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis in northern France on December 31, 1869.

The son of a middle-class family, he studied and began to practice law. In 1890, however, while recovering slowly from an attack of appendicitis, he became intrigued by the practice of painting. In 1892, having given up his law career, he went to Paris to study art with the renowned artist-teacher Gustave Moreau. Matisse’s own early style was a conventional form of naturalism, and he made many copies after the old masters. He also studied more contemporary art, especially that of the impressionists, and he began to experiment, earning a reputation as a rebellious member of his studio classes. While he was regarded as a leader of radicalism in the arts, Matisse was beginning to gain the approval of a number of influential critics and collectors, including the American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein and her family. Among the many important commissions he received was that of a Russian collector who requested mural panels illustrating dance and music (Dance, 1910 and Music, 1910, Hermitage Museum in Saint Pertersburg). Such broadly conceived themes ideally suited Matisse as they allowed him the freedom of invention and playfulness of form and expression. His images of dancers, and of human figures in general, convey expressive form first and the particular details of anatomy only secondarily. Matisse extended this principle into other fields; his bronze sculptures, like his drawings and works in several graphic media, reveal the same expressive contours seen in his paintings.

From the 1920’s until his death, Matisse spent much time in the south of France, particularly Nice, painting local scenes with a thin, fluid applications of bright color. In his old age, he was commissioned to design the decoration of the small chapel of Saint-Marie du Rosaire at Vence (near Cannes), which he completed between 1947 and 1951. Often bedridden during his last years, he occupied himself with decoupage, creating works of brilliantly colored paper cutouts arranged casually, but with an unfailing eye for design, on a canvas surface.

In this black ink etching Matisse presents a reclining woman, with bracelet and necklace.

(Kirk Delman, Williamson Gallery Registrar)

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