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Deux fillettes, fenêtre bleue
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Deux fillettes, fenêtre bleue
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About the item

Establishing his reputation as a masterful colorist during his involvement in the Fauve movement in the early years of the twentieth century, Matisse continued to explore the dynamic relationship between form and color in many of the exquisite paintings that he executed throughout his career. Imbuing these canvases almost exclusively with unmitigated primary colors, the artist believed that "simple colors can act upon the inner feelings with more force, the simpler they are. A blue for example, accompanied by the brilliance of its complementaries, acts upon the feelings like a sharp blow on a gong. The same with red and yellow; and the artist must be able to sound them when he needs to" (quoted in Jacqueline and Maurice Guillaud, Matisse, Rhythm and Line, Paris and New York, 1987, p. 410). The oil paintings from this series, including the present work, were the last that the artist painted, as he spent the remainder of his life working primarily on decorative projects, most notable for the Rosary Chapel in Vence. As one of his final works on canvas, Deux filletes, fenêtre bleue demonstrates Matisse’s painterly technique at its full maturity.\nWriting about the intensity of Matisse’s palette in his interiors executed around this time, John Elderfield has commented: "The Vence interiors of 1946-48 are so flooded with intense color that it seems at times to overflow the limits of the canvas. Matisse shows us at once a mysterious interior space of colors and patterns, within which the specific identities of things are nevertheless retained, and an elemental chromatic plane, real and substantial that radiate light into the space around it. His last style, like the last style of the other great artists, amounts to a coincidence of opposites. The calmness of the interior space and the energy that is released into our own space are inseparable and interfused" (John Elderfield, Henri Matisse, A Retrospective (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1992, p. 413).\nThe present work features the motif which pervaded many of the canvases in this series, that of two women seated at a table by an open window. This subject matter, which allowed the artist to combine the interior and exterior settings within a single composition, had already captured Matisse’s imagination during his early career, most notably in the two early monumental oils: Harmonie en rouge of 1908 at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, and La Leçon de musique (see fig. 2) of 1917, now in the collection of the Barnes Foundation. As in his Le Silence habité des maisons (see fig. 3), painted in the same year as the present work, Matisse concerned himself with the juxtaposition of contrasting forms, layering interior and exterior, still-life and figure, and straight and curved lines throughout the canvas. Instead of dissecting the pictorial space, these contrasts underscore the unity of the composition because all of the elements in the painting are set on the same plane. This sensation is enhanced by the relatively uniform application of bold colors set outlined in black contours. As one of the last oil paintings Matisse executed prior to his final series of paper cut-outs (see fig. 4), Deux filletes, fenêtre bleue echoes the bold arrangements of collage elements that marked his late oeuvre. In this work, the artist has maintained a border of bare canvas in each element of the composition, so that the patches of pure pigment resemble pieces of paper pasted onto the canvas. This device has the effect of eliminating any suggestion of modeling, thus reasserting the flatness of the picture surface.\nAlong with its technical mastery, Deux filletes, fenêtre bleue reveals a certain vigor related to the artist’s personal situation during this period of his life. Matisse’s paintings of 1947, including the present work, take on a rejuvenated sense of artistic perseverance perhaps ignited by the deaths that year of his two longtime friends, Bonnard and Marquet. Working from his studio at Le Rêve (see fig. 5), Matisse painted with an intensity and passion which he had endeavored all of his life. The vibrancy of these canvases provided inspiration for Picasso, who frequently visited Matisse’s studio during this period. After his lengthy recuperation from a nearly fatal operation several years earlier, Matisse now embraced his new lease on life and enthusiastically wrote to his friend André Rouveyre in May 1947: "I’ve got several works in progress. I’m full of curiosity, as when one visits a new country. For I’ve never before advanced this far in the expression of colors" (quoted in Pierre Schneider, Matisse, New York, 1984, p. 650).\nFig. 1, Henri Matisse, Deux fillettes, brush and ink on paper, Sotheby's, New York, November 4, 2004, lot 44, $1,744,000 (with premium)\nFig. 2, Henri Matisse, La Leçon de musique, 1917, The Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania\nFig. 3, Henri Matisse, Le Silence habité des maisons, 1947, oil on canvas, Private Collection\nFig. 4, Henri Matisse, Icarus, 1943, gouache on paper cut-out, Private Collection\nFig. 5, Matisse’s studio at Le Rêve, Vence, 1948\nSigned and dated H. Matisse 47 (top center)
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Henri Matisse

dimensions

24 1/2 by 19 3/4 in.

exhibition

Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1947

literature

Combat, Paris, June 1948, illustrated Verve, vol. VI, nos. 21-22, Paris, 1948, illustrated Gaston Diehl, Matisse, Paris, 1967, illustrated p. 156

provenance

L'Enfance Malheureuse (a charitable organization, acquired as a gift from the artist on June 18, 1948 and sold: Galerie Charpentier, Paris, July 5, 1948) Arpad Plesch, Monaco (acquired at the above sale, thence by descent and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 28, 1978, lot 37) Stephan Hahn, New York (acquired at the above sale) Richard Gray Gallery, New York Acquired from the above

signedDate

Signed and dated H. Matisse 47 (top center)

consignmentDesignation

Property of Exclusive Arts, Ltd.

creator_nationality_dates

1869 - 1954





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