description of Sketch for “Le Bonheur de vivre” (“The Joy of Life”) by Henri Matisse

This expressive abstract oil painting, which measures under one-and-a-half feet tall and less than two feet wide, depicts a group of nude figures in a park-like setting. A dotted orange and yellow trail leads from our lower left to the right hand side of the canvas, passing tall trees, a footpath to a distant lake, and several standing and lounging figures. The colors on display are vibrant and irregular. Patches of pink and violet sky are found at the top of the canvas, and blue swatches represent grass near the bottom. Dense orange-colored trees on the left and a stand of teal trees on the right feature indigo trunks and limbs. Some of the paint, including the dotted trail, is thick and textured, whereas the red used to outline the figures appears dry and sketch-like. The figures themselves are only vaguely representational. Many have been broken down into angular shapes, while others are a collection of lines or limbs that merely suggest a figure.

Henri Matisse, Sketch for "Le Bonheur de vivre" ("The Joy of Life"), 1905-1906
Henri Matisse, Sketch for "Le Bonheur de vivre" ("The Joy of Life"), 1905-1906; oil on canvas, 16 in. x 21 1/2 in. (40.64 cm x 54.61 cm); Collection SFMOMA, Bequest of Elise S. Haas; © Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Henri Matisse, Sketch for "Le Bonheur de vivre" ("The Joy of Life"), 1905-1906

Artwork Info

Artwork title
Sketch for "Le Bonheur de vivre" ("The Joy of Life")
Artist name
Henri Matisse
Date created
1905-1906
Classification
painting
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
16 in. x 21 1/2 in. (40.64 cm x 54.61 cm)
Date acquired
1991
Credit
Collection SFMOMA
Bequest of Elise S. Haas
Copyright
© Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Permanent URL
https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/91.160
Artwork status
On view on floor 2 as part of Open Ended: Painting and Sculpture Since 1900

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