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Woman in Blue

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)

Photographs of this painting in progress show that Henri Matisse started with a casual pose and a realistic rendering. He then expanded and rounded the skirt and sleeves of the woman’s blue garment and made her relaxed pose more upright and rigid, emphasizing relationships of line, shape, pattern, and color. The flat checkerboards of the black floor and red wall make a strong visual setting for the model’s stylized form. Lydia Delectorskaya—the artist’s secretary and studio manager—became Matisse’s primary model in the second half of the 1930s. At the artist’s request, she came up with the combination of ruffled blue silk bodice with lace edging and matching skirt, intended only for use in the studio. The drawing by her right shoulder, light blue against the red wall, is a related image Matisse had made of Delectorskaya a few months earlier.

Object Details

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