Femme au violon

Henri Matisse
Femme au violon
entre 1921 et 1922
huile sur toile
H. 55 ; L. 46 cm avec cadre H. 78 ; L. 69,5 ; P. 8 cm
Succession H. Matisse © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée de l'Orangerie) / Michel Urtado / Benoit Touchard
Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954)
Artwork not currently exhibited in the museum

This scene is typical of indoor scenes in Nice painted by Matisse around 1921-1923. We can indeed recognize the distinctive motif of the Moorish screen which makes up the background of many compositions at that time. A young seated woman holding a violin on her knees and a bow in her right hand stands out against the screen's blue circle pattern. The violin case is open on the table where her elbow rests. There is a very similar version of this painting on a slightly smaller scale and with the same title that can be found today in the United States at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Orangerie composition brings out a play on the confrontation between the curves and the straight lines that equally structure the painting. The vertical lines of the screen's border and the door are linked with the vertical lines of the table legs and the chair while the shadows cast by the table legs are exactly parallel with the bow. These straight lines are counterbalanced by an equal amount of curving lines that answer them: the circles of the screen, the curve of the body, the face and the hair of the young woman also echo the curving lines of the instrument and its case. The theme of music appeared early in Matisse's work, the artist being a musician himself. The period in Nice was particularly synonymous with daily violin practice for him. The art dealer Paul Guillaume owned several paintings on this music theme, in particular La leçon de musique [The Music Lesson] by Matisse conserved today in The Museum of Modern Art, New York.