Young Sailor II

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

Date: 1906

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 39 7/8 x 32 5/8 in. (101.3 x 82.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998

Accession Number: 1999.363.41

Rights and Reproduction: © 2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York


Beginning in 1905, Matisse spent the summers - and sometimes even the winters - in Collioure and continued to do so intermittently until about 1914. It was in Collioure that the sitter for The Young Sailor, an eighteen-year-old local fisherman named Germain Augustin Barthélémy Montargès (1888-1938), caught his eye. In this second version of the painting (the first, dated 1906, is in a private collection), the contours have been sharpened, the forms are more defined, and the colors have been reduced to large, mostly flat areas of bright green, blue, and pink - a decorative style and palette adopted by Matisse from this point on. Matisse also drastically altered the sailor's mood and expression. His stylizing brush wiped off the earlier round-cheeked youthfulness of Germain's face, replacing it with a masklike expression of savvy cunning from which a touch of licentiousness seems not absent. Germain's rather theatrical looks and his colorful costume, set against the pink candy-colored ground, combine to make this work one of Matisse's most decorative portraits in the Fauve manner.