Bathers by a River by Henri Matisse

Bathers by a River
Oil on canvas
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, USA

Considered by Matisse to be one of his most important paintings, Bather’s by a River is certainly one of his most puzzling. Matisse worked on the piece over eight years and undoubtedly it has passed through a variety of transformations. Evolved from a commission from Sergei Shchukin, Matisse’s patron, for two decorative panels on the dance and music the painting initially resembled the idyllic scenes depicted in other paintings such as Joy of Life. However, it turned into a confrontation with Cubism and came under intense scrutiny. Matisse rejected Cubism but he also felt challenged by it. Bathers by a River and other paintings from 1913 – 1917 however seem to be influenced by the style.

Henri Matisse
Fauvism, Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Primitivism in Art
Born: 31 December 1869, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France
Nationality: French
Died: 3 November 1954, Nice, France

Matisse is regarded as the greatest colourist of the 20th century and rivalled Picasso in the importance of his innovations. As a Post-Impressionist and leader of the Fauvism movement he sought to use colour as the foundation for expressive, decorative, and monumental paintings. Throughout his career still life and the nude were his favoured subjects with North Africa as an important inspiration

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