Henri Matisse

La Leçon de peinture or La Séance de peinture [The Painting Lesson or The Painting Session] (1919)

About this artwork

This is one of thirty paintings made by Matisse in a hotel room in Nice. The velvety black background highlights the mirror and gives an unusual, almost inverted sense of inside and outside space. The 'real' space of the room is dark and flattened while the flat mirror is alive with the reflection of flowers, a tree and the sea outside the window. The artist depicted to the left is presumably Matisse himself, painting the scene on his canvas. The young woman absorbed in her book is his eighteen-year-old model, Antoinette Arnoux.

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  • title: La Leçon de peinture or La Séance de peinture [The Painting Lesson or The Painting Session]
  • accession number: GMA 929
  • artist: Henri MatisseFrench (1869 - 1954)
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1919
  • measurements: 73.40 x 92.20 cm (framed: 95.10 x 114.50 x 8.90 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by Sir Alexander Maitland 1965
  • copyright: © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2016
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

Matisse began taking drawing classes as a way of relieving the boredom of his job as a solicitor's clerk. However, in 1891 he abandoned his legal career in favour of painting, studying at various schools in Paris. In 1905 he exhibited with a number of artists who were dubbed by a critic, 'Les fauves' (wild beasts). Matisse began painting in rich bright colours after spending time in the south of France. He settled there permanently in 1940. After undergoing two major operations in 1941 he was left bed-ridden but continued to make paper cut-outs. These allowed him to 'draw' into the colour.