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Henri Matisse, French, 1869 - 1954

The artist’s model Antoinette Arnoud twists in her chair and glances from her book, lost in melancholic thoughts or daydreams. Similar images of women in interiors are frequent among Henri Matisse’s work from the early 1920s. The table with red-and-white striped tablecloth, upholstered chair, and oval mirror were recurring props in related compositions of the same year, and the placement of their juxtaposed shapes, patterns, and colors in gentle visual tension was also a repeated compositional device. The setting of this picture is a room in the Hôtel de la Méditerranée, an establishment facing the harbor of the city of Nice on France’s southern coast, where Matisse lived and worked intermittently from 1918 to 1920.


Object Details
Josse and Gaston Bernheim-Jeune (personal collection), until at least 1931 (Bernheim-Jeune photo no. 3201, May 1920) [1]. With Bignou Gallery, New York, (from Bernheim-Jeune?) [2]; sold to Samuel S. White, 3rd (1876-1952) and Vera M. White (1888-1966), Ardmore, PA, by summer 1947 [3]; bequest of Vera M. White to PMA, 1967.1. The 1931 Basel exhibition catalog lists the painting as "Collection Bernheim-Jeune, Paris" (not for sale, according to the catalog). However, the firm's archives indicate that the painting never formed part of the gallery's stock, according to director Guy-Patrice Dauberville (letters of 10 September and 25 October 2003, in curatorial file), so it therefore must have belonged to the Bernheim-Jeune private collection.2. Étienne Bignou was associated with Matisse's dealer Bernheim-Jeune (they had been his partners in the purchase of Galerie Georges Petit in 1929). The New York branch of the Bignou Gallery opened in 1935. The painting was included in the Bignou gallery's 1947 exhibition "A 20th Century Selection." The Bignou photo album (Frick Art Reference Library) does not record the provenance of the painting.3. White lent the painting to the PMA exhibition, "Masterpieces of Philadelphia Private Collections" in summer 1947. He may have purchased the work at the time of the 1947 exhibition at the Bignou Gallery.

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