Thursday, December 31, 2020

Something About the Art of Henri Matisse

Quelque chose sur l'artiste.

It's the birthday of the French artist Henri Matisse, born this day a mere 151 years ago. Known for his colorful paintings and sculptures, Matisse was active around the turn of the Twentieth Century with his "Woman with a Hat" (1905), "Dance" (1910), "Bathers with a Turtle" (1908), and many more.

Matisse had many fans, including a young Florence Zimmermann, as shown in The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring:
Sleepily Rose Rita climbed the stairs. She was staying in the guest room. It was a very pleasant room, and, like most of the rooms in Mrs. Zimmermann’s house, it was full of purple things. The wallpaper was covered with little bouquets of violets, and the chamber pot in the corner was made of purple Crown Derby china. Over the bureau hung a painting of a room in which almost everything was purple. The painting was signed “H. Matisse.” It had been given to Mrs. Zimmermann by the famous French painter during her visit to Paris just before the First World War.
What painting did Mrs. Zimmermann have hanging in her house? I couldn't find a purple room painting – so it's likely something Bellairs made up – but what precedents are there?  Here are a few paintings with purple in their titles:

However I wonder if "The Dessert: Harmony in Red (The Red Room)" (1908) provided inspiration.  It's a room full of red.  No, it's not quite purple but Matisse was dissatisfied with the original title and appearance - "Harmony in Blue" - and he painted it over with his preferred red.  

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