Oil on canvas
Framed: 102.2 x 129.5 x 12.1 cm (40 1/4 x 51 x 4 3/4 in.); Unframed: 73.7 x 108 cm (29 x 42 1/2 in.)
Gift of the Hanna Fund 1952.153
© Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
When Matisse's Blue Nude was shown in the 1913 Armory show, the violent, unnaturalistic colors and distorted forms so enraged students and faculty from the Art Institute of Chicago that they burned a copy in effigy.
"I have always tried," wrote Matisse, "to hide my own efforts and wished my works to have the lightness and joyousness of springtime." He achieved that aim in this canvas, painted in Nice during the early months of World War II. A tapestry design hangs behind the woman, while the window to the right is covered in black. The oak table, a light wood with a natural finish in real life, is painted black and green, thereby transforming it into a decorative shape that anchors the center of the composition.
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