Henri Matisse / Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance" / 1912Henri Matisse
Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance"

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Creator Name: Matisse, Henri
Creator Nationality: European; French
Creator Role: Artist
Creator Dates/Places: French, 1869-1954
Creator Name-CRT: Henri Matisse
Title: Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance"
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1912
Creation End Date: 1912
Creation Date: 1912
Object Type: Paintings
Materials and Techniques: oil on canvas
Dimensions: H. 75-1/2, W. 45-3/8 in. (191.8 x 115.3 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1984.433.16
Credit Line: Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982
Copyright: ? Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Rights: http://www.arsny.com

In late spring 1912 Henri Matisse returned to his home and studio in Issy-les-Moulineaux, southwest of Paris, after an extended stay in Morocco. Rather than spend the summer in Collioure, as had been his custom, Matisse remained in Issy and immediately began work on two six-foot-tall paintings. The two works are variations on the same subject, a view of the artist's studio. In the left foreground, a wooden armchair is cut off by the picture frame. Behind it and to the right, a vase of nasturtiums is set on a tripod table, intended for sculpture, that appears in several other paintings of Matisse's studio. Occupying the entire background is a section of Matisse's large canvas "Dance I" of 1909 (Museum of Modern Art, New York), which was actually standing on the floor of his studio at the time. This device of incorporating his own works into his compositions was one that Matisse repeated many times in his oeuvre, and "Dance I" is among the images most often recalled.

The first version of "Nasturtiums with the Painting 'Dance'" of 1912 (State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow) was bought by the Russian collector Sergei I. Shchukin within a few weeks of its completion. The Metropolitan's painting, the second version, was acquired later by a German couple, Oskar and Greta Moll, pupils of Matisse and subsequent collectors of his work, who sold the picture to Scofield Thayer in 1923. It was included in two important early exhibitions: "The Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition" at the Grafton Galleries, London, October-December 1912, and the "International Exhibition of Modern Art" (the Armory Show) held in New York in 1913 and later shown in Chicago and Boston.

In general, the Metropolitan's is the freer of the two versions. When asked why he painted a second version, Matisse wrote that he "was carried away by the color." It is indeed the color, luminous and bright, that enlivens this painting and suggests the artist's zest for life. Matisse's brushwork is broad and spontaneous, allowing the light, unpainted canvas to outline the forms.

The main elements of the composition - chair, table with flowers, and painted canvas - are boldly abbreviated and indicate the direction Matisse would take in his subsequent work. The prominent vase of nasturtiums is the only motif presented in its entirety. Everything else - including the tripod, whose rear leg has been strangely shortened - is fragmentary and cut off by the picture's edges. The space within the room is flattened and the individual objects are rendered without any sense of three-dimensionality. Only the arrangement of dancing figures in the painted landscape in "Dance I" suggests any spatial depth. Matisse's inclusion of a landscape in a studio interior creates an intriguing ambiguity by bringing the outdoors inside.

AMICA ID: MMA_.1984.433.16
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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