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Odalisque, Harmony in Red

Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice)

Date:
1926–27
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
15 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (38.4 x 54.9cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.44
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Odalisques were the most popular subject of Matisse's Nice period, during the 1920s. They appear in diverse poses in innumerable canvases: reclining, lounging, seated, or standing, frequently with their arms raised or folded behind the head. Dressed or semi-dressed in exotic attire, they are placed against a decorative background of richly patterned fabrics and oriental rugs and surrounded by oriental accoutrements. Matisse's primary model for these depictions, from 1920 to 1927, was Henriette Darricarrière (born 1901), a young woman skilled in the arts of ballet, piano, violin, and painting who lived near Matisse's studio.

    In his third-floor apartment at 1, Place Charles-Félix, Matisse arranged an "Oriental" alcove, equipped with a low couch, mirrors, decorative screens, and profusely patterned wall hangings, creating an atmosphere of reverie and exoticism reminiscent of the Moorish interiors he had seen in Morocco. The model's sculpturesque body, languorously stretching on the couch, exudes sensuality and carnality, enhanced by the warm rosy red color scheme. The mood of "luxe, calme et volupté" is clearly palpable. Yet, contemplating the work, one gets the impression that the artist somehow distanced himself from the erotic content of the picture while leaving the excitement of recognition to the viewer. Despite their attempt at authenticity, the paintings appear carefully staged and full of theatricality. The theme of odalisques during Matisse's Nice period is central not only to his paintings, but also to his sculptures, drawings, and prints.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed (lower right): Henri Matisse

  • Provenance

    the artist (until d. 1954); his widow, Amélie Matisse (1954–55; sold in September 1955, for $125,000, through Pierre Matisse to Gelman); Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1955–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

  • Exhibition History

    Pittsburgh. Carnegie Institute. "Thirtieth Annual International Exhibition of Paintings," October 15–December 6, 1931, no. 198 (as "Odalisque: Harmony in Red").

    Paris. Maison de la Pensée Française. "Henri Matisse—chapelle, peinture, dessins, sculptures," July 5–September 24, 1950, no. 48 (as "Odalisque rouge").

    Knokke-le-Zoute. Grande salle des expositions de "La Réserve". "Matisse," July 12–August 31, 1952, no. 28 (as "Odalisque," lent from a private collection, Paris).

    Paris. Grand Palais. "Henri Matisse: Exposition du centenaire," April–September 1970, no. 174 (as "Odalisque, harmonie rouge," lent by M. et Mme J. Gelman, Mexico).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 176).

    London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

    Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 200).

  • References

    G. J. Gros. "Henri Matisse." Cahiers d'art 2, nos. 7–8 (1927), ill. p. 273.

    [Louis] Aragon. Apologie du luxe. Geneva, 1946, unpaginated, ill. (color).
    Lionello Venturi. Pittura Contemporanea. Milan, [1947], pl. 8.

    Henri Matisse—chapelle, peinture, dessins, sculptures. Exh. cat., Maison de la Pensée Française. Paris, 1950, p. 21, no. 48.

    Maurice Raynal et al. History of Modern Painting. Vol. 2, Matisse, Munch, Rouault: Fauvism, Expressionism. Geneva, 1950, ill. p. 54 (color).

    Matisse. Exh. cat., Grande salle des expositions, Knokke-le-Zoute. Brussels, 1952, pp. 30–31, no. 28, ill.

    Giuseppe Marchiori. Matisse. New York, [1967], colorpl. 91.

    Jean Guichard-Meili. "Les Odalisques." XXe siècle: Hommage à Henri Matisse (1970), ill. p. 68 (color).

    Pierre Schneider and Tamara Préaud, eds. Henri Matisse: Exposition du centenaire. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1970, p. 91, no. 174, ill. p. 231.

    Massimo Carrà. L'Opera di Matisse dall rivolta 'fauve' all'intimismo, 1904–1928. Milan, 1971, p. 104, no. 438, ill. and colorpl. LXI.

    Margrit Hahnloser in Henri Matisse. Ed. Felix Baumann. Exh. cat., Kunsthaus Zürich. Zürich, 1982, fig. 38 (installation photo).

    William S. Lieberman in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and
    Natasha Gelman Collection
    . Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 2, fig. 3 (color, installation photo).

    Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 176–77, 305, ill. (color and bw).

    Pierre Schneider in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 26–27.

    Sophie Monneret. Matisse. Paris, 1994, p. 115, no. 470, ill.

    Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville. Matisse: Henri Matisse chez Bernheim-Jeune. Paris, 1995, vol. 2, pp. 1278–79, no. 678, ill.

    Pierre Schneider. Matisse. rev. ed. [English ed., 1984]. Paris, 2002, p. 527.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
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