10 best paintings of Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, a French artist, is a master of colour and form of the 20th Century. With the inclusion of sinuous curves which were rooted in the traditions of figurative art, he produced numerous masterpieces of his time. 

He is also considered as an influential artist of modern art, brilliant sculptor, and printmaker.

The Green Line is the essential art piece of him, which is about his wife’s face divided in the middle by a green line making the painting to be viewed as a chromatic jigsaw puzzle. 

Matisse work has influenced many other artists in the modern art, which led to bringing revolutionary development in the world of Art.

He has produced numerous impactful art pieces during his art career including Blue Nude, Woman with a hat, The Open Window and many more. 

Here is the list of top 10 paintings of Henri Matisse with details.

10. The Green Line 

Henri Matisse The Green line
Year1905
Dimensions40.5cm X 32.5cm.
LocationStatens Museum , Copenhagen

A masterpiece, the Green Line, was painted in the year 1905. It was painted in the fauvist style with the measurement of 40.5cm X 32.5cm.

Depiction of the portrait of Matisse’s wife, Amelie with her face divided into two halves with a green strip makes it look like a chromatic jigsaw puzzle.

The stripe or the green line is meant to serve as an artificial shadow to give an effect of warmth and a relaxed side to the art.

The painting as adopted the pointillist techniques and includes the broader planes of colours which abandons any pretences of realism.

After the inclusion of the colours, he became the leader of the artists using the Fauves – a first avant-garde movement during the 20th Century.

Today, the painting is placed in the Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

9. The Open Window 

Year1905
Dimensions55cm X 46cm
LocationNational Gallery of Art, Washington

The Open Window, painted in the year 1905 is of fauvist style with the measurement of 55cm X 46cm. 

The painting depicts the view that can be witnessed from the window of Matisse’s apartment. It displays a picturesque fishing port, the interior of the room, window, the harbour view, and the balcony.

With the use of a variety of brushstrokes, this masterpiece of Matisse is considered to serve a brilliancy as an icon during the early modernism with the substitution of conventional representation of complementary colours.

As Matisse was a massive fan of the theme – open window, he painted numerous paintings related to it.

Most of his paintings, including the Open Window, contains the vivid expressionistic and non-naturalistic use of colour.

Today, the painting is placed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, USA.

8. Woman with a hat

Henri Matisse painting Woman with a hat
Source: Wikipedia
Year1905
Dimensions80.65cm X 59.69cm
LocationSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The most famous artwork, Woman with a hat, painted in the year 1905, was in the fauvist style with the measurement of 80.65cm X 59.69cm.

The painting depicts the portrait of Amelie, wife of Matisse. With the use of loose brushwork, employment of non-naturalistic colours, and unfinished quality, the art piece was able to become the centre of controversy.

Displaying the innocence in the face with an elaborate dress, this masterpiece of Matisse startled the spectators of his time.

A brilliant combination of colours used around her face, hat, apparel, and background led to making this painting one of his most celebrated works.

Today, Woman with a hat is placed in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

 7. The Joy of Life

The Joy of Life Henri Matisse
Source: Wikipedia
Year1906
Dimensions175cm X 241cm
LocationBarnes Foundation, Lower Merion, US

The most radical painting, the Joy of Life, was painted in the year 1906. It was in the fauvist style with the measurement of 175cm X 241cm.

This painting depicts the group of nude people, both male and female, in a landscape. Many dancing figures can also be witnessed in the background of this painting.

With the use of vivid colours, flattened space, techniques of shifting perspectives, and motion effect, this painting was able to be one of the greatest works under fauvist. It is also considered to be the breakthrough work of Matisse.

When the painting was exhibited for the public, it created a massive outrage and controversy due to the nudity and modern techniques used in the art piece.

Despite all the discussion, it was able to impress and inspire a few contemporaries, including Pablo Picasso.

Today, the Joy of Life is placed in the Barnes Foundation, Lower Merion in PA, US.

6. Blue Nude 

Year1907
Dimensions92.1cm X 140.3cm
LocationBaltimore Museum of Art

The most controversial art piece, Blue Nude ( Souvenir of Biskra) was painted in the year 1907. It is in the fauvist style with the measurement of 92.1cm X 140.3cm.

The painting displays a nude woman lying on the grass with blue shades all over her figure. The woman is shown lying with one leg on the other and her arm resting on her head.

When the painting was first exhibited to the public in the year 1907, its appearance shocked all of the French people.

It became one of the most controversial art pieces of Matisse due to its nudity and the representation of the woman’s figure. 

In the year 1913, an effigy of this painting was burned by the outraged public at the Armory Show in Chicago.

Despite the controversy, the art was able to inspire Pablo Picasso, who later created his most renowned masterpieces – The Young Ladies of Avignon.

Today, the Blue Nude is placed in the Baltimore Museum of Art.

5. The Dessert: Harmony in Red

Henri Matisse painting The Dessert: Harmony in Red
Source: Wikipedia
Year1908
Dimensions180cm X 220cm
LocationHermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

The Dessert: Harmony was painted in the year 1908 in the fauvist style with the measurement of 180cm X 220cm. 

Though Sergei Shchukin first commissioned the painting as Harmony in Blue, Matisse changed the colour into red, as he was unsatisfied with the blue colour. 

The painting depicts the dining room with a view of a garden which can be seen through the window and strikes a decorative outlook through the use of vibrant red and blue patterns. It also includes a maid leaning over the vase and a chair placed strangely.

With the mixture of colours and content, it allows the viewer to explore the actual depth of the canvas.

The art piece considerably lacks the central focal point, which leads to revealing the influence of Impressionist painting.

Today, the Dessert: Harmony in Red is placed in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

 4.The Conversation

Year1909
Dimensions177cm X 217cm
LocationHermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russian

The conversation painted in the year 1909 is in the fauvist style with the measurement of 177cm X 217cm.

The painting depicts the portrait of Matisse and his wife, Amelie facing each other with a background coloured in intense blue. All the images displayed in this art piece are in a simplified and minimalised form.

With the intense blue colour of the background, Matisse is showing the capture the more accurate and profound meaning of the real conversation between the two, which is deeply sinking into the atmosphere of colour.

It also depicts the humble observers where an elegant confrontation is taking place between the man and the woman.

The man is portrayed as tall, thin, and majestic, whereas the woman is shown sitting on a chair keen to participate in the conversation.

Today, the painting is placed in the collection of Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg in Russia.

3. The Red Studio

The Red Studio Henri Matisse painting
Source: Wikipedia
Year1911
Dimensions181cm X 219.1cm
LocationMuseum of Modern Art, New York

The Red Studio was painted in the year 1911 in the fauvist style with the measurement of 181cm X 219.1cm.

The painting depicts the workshop of Henri Matisse, which includes sculptures, pictures, and ceramics all around the studio.

With the reduction of the walls and floor to form a continuous sheet of uniform red, the art piece looks realistic.

After visiting Spain, Matisse got inspired and used patterns, decorations, and depiction os space which led to painting this masterpiece.

As we look closer to it, we find the perspective seem wrong, but it was done with an intention by the artist.

Able to get number 5 rank in the 2004 poll of around 500 artists, the Red Studio is a pivotal art piece of Matisse which is one of the most influential modern artwork till date.

Today, the Red Studio is placed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

 2. Woman in a Purple Coat

Woman in a Purple Coat Henri Matisse painting
Source: Wikipedia

    

Year1937
Dimensions81cm X 65.4 cm
LocationMuseum of Fine Arts, Houston

The Woman in a Purple Coat painted in the year 1937 is in fauvist style with the measurement of 81cm X 65.4 cm.

The painting depicts a woman with a vivid purple coat and black outline making her look as if she is about to pop out off the chaise lounge she is on. The art piece displays the woman as the focal point of the picture.

With the expert use of colours and light, Matisse has expressed his real emotions of life in this painting.

The different patterns used in the background also creates an impression as if the model is in the corner of the room. Placement of the flowers and the magazine around her gives the sense of depth.

Today, the Woman in a Purple Coat is placed in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

 1. The Fall of Icarus

The Fall of Icarus painting by Henri Matisse
Year1947
Dimensions41.9 cm X 26 cm
LocationScottish National Gallery of Modern Art - Edinburgh, UK

The Fall of Icarus painted in the year 1947 in the Abstract Expressionist style with the measurement of 41.9 cm X 26 cm.

The painting depicts Icarus ( protagonist – Greek myth ) flailing into the blue sky as if with a free fall. It portrays a tragic and emotional moment of death, destruction, and collapse of hopes – ambitions with some touch of meditational composition.

With the yellow sunlight reflecting against the deep blue sky gives a soothing touch to the art piece. Also, the red spot on Icarus’s heart is a mysterious yet calm which symbolizes the freedom of fear and anxiety.

Certain abstracted forms and extensive parts of the classic combination of colours shows the reminiscent of the change of direction towards his works that were about to take place.

Today, the Fall of Icarus is placed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh, UK.

Conclusion:

Matisse impressed and influenced quite several artists with magnificent paintings and expert use of colours. Almost all of his pictures were much celebrated during his time.

Other significant paintings of Matisse include The Dinner Table, Brothers by ta River, The Moroccans, La Danse, Beasts of the Sea, and Goldfish and Palette.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "10 best paintings of Henri Matisse," in HistoryTen, March 6, 2020, https://historyten.com/arts/best-henri-matisse-paintings/.
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