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Studio, Quai Saint-Michel

Henri Matisse ( 1916 )

Collection item 1307
  • Period Twentieth-Century
  • Materials Oil on canvas
  • Object Number 1307
  • Dimensions 58 1/4 x 46 in.; 147.955 x 116.84 cm
  • Credit Line Acquired 1940; © 2015 Succession H. Matisse/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse integrates representational and abstract styles in this austere painting, which reflects the themes of the artist’s studio, the picture within a picture, the artist and his model, and the open window. With its radically simplified vertical and horizontal architectural elements, this work shows Matisse’s studio at 19 quai Saint-Michel in the heart of Paris, painted during the late winter or early spring months of World War I. His favorite model of the time, Laurette, whom he recorded in a series of almost 50 works, reclines on the couch. Shadowed areas above her indicate alterations to her form. Through the window, the Palais du Justice and Sainte Chapelle buildings also show signs of reworking. Areas of shadow in the lower portion of the window suggest that balcony grillwork was attempted and then later discarded. The artist also labored over the size and position of the three works on the wall behind Laurette. One of four related paintings of this studio, the artist’s presence is implied by the propped picture on the chair, which acts like an easel. When asked about the window motif, Matisse replied, “space is one unity from the horizon, right to the interior of my workroom….The wall of the window does not create two different worlds.”

Phillips purchased this work from Pierre Matisse Gallery and lauded it as a “landmark of modern art.”