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Henri Matisse
Sketch for “Le Bonheur de vivre” (“The Joy of Life”), 1905-1906

This work is the final known oil sketch for Matisse’s monumental landscape Le bonheur de vivre, now in the collection of the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania.

Its liberal and expressive use of color (also apparent in the finished painting) is characteristic of Fauvism, an early modernist movement that also emphasized flattened space and formal qualities such as line and brushwork. Matisse and other Fauvists applied these innovative methods to many traditional artistic subjects, including portraiture, landscape, and the still life.

Deemed the “climactic” work of Fauvism by one critic, the final version of Le bonheur de vivre differs greatly in scale from this study, for the painting is over four times as large. In style, the sketch looks toward Neo-Impressionism with its loose dabs of broken color, while the painting features flat expanses of color and a more linear treatment of the figures.

Although the sketch is a thoroughly modern picture, Matisse also drew from older artistic modes, including French academic painting and the iconography of Greek vases, to create this pastoral scene of carefree innocence and languid, pleasurable repose.

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. × 21 1/2 in. (40.64 cm × 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, 1900 to Now.

Other Works by Henri Matisse

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