Henri Matisse checked into the Beau Rivage hotel in Nice, on France’s southern coast, in December 1917, intending only a brief stay, as perhaps indicated by the small, unopened brown leather suitcase on the table at right. Yet within just a few years, he would become rooted in Nice. What kept the artist working there for the rest of his life, he said, was the region’s tender, yet bright, light. In Interior at Nice, this Mediterranean light brightens the white lace curtains, the panes of the open window, and the interior. Matisse’s rendering of his room as an illuminated box signaled a broader change in the direction of his art. For a decade or more, he would turn toward a relatively realistic depiction of light, form, and three-dimensional space.
A public scandal over the challenging appearance of his works—the rawness and immediacy of their color in particular—brought fame to Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) in 1905. Matisse, however, was no less remarkable as a draftsman. Though the artist’s work went through many changes over a long career, its essential method was to distill his emotional response to a given still life, landscape, or human form (his principal theme) in luminous color and pure, flowing line. The museum’s holdings cover aspects of Matisse’s work from 1900 to 1950 across the mediums of painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, the artist’s book, and ceramics. Many of the key works came as gifts from Philadelphians who collected Matisse in the years following World War I.
Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art