MoMA
Henri Matisse. Composition. Issy-les-Moulineaux, 1915
Henri Matisse

Composition

Issy-les-Moulineaux, 1915
On view
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
57 1/2 x 38 1/8" (146 x 97 cm)
Credit
Gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder; Nelson A. Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Weintraub, and Mary Sisler Bequest (all by exchange)
Object number
355.1997
Copyright
© 2015 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Although Matisse's title for this canvas accentuates its abstractness, notes taken during a 1931 interview with the artist indicate that it represents a view from a curtained window in the artist’s home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, including the blue glass canopy that covered the front door:

The curtain was red, the color of the yellow [represents its] lining and the pattern [was] added by the artist. The green frame of the window suggests the green of the trees outside and the cool contrast of the green of the trees and the blue sky necessitated the large mass of yellow which to the artist signifies the vibration and pleasure he derived from the contrast of trees and sky. It is not therefore a completely abstract picture but a picture which has its roots in reality.

While most of Matisse’s paintings of this period are extensively revised, this canvas returns to an earlier mode of working. As he had in some of his Moroccan paintings of 1912–13, the artist drew the composition then filled it in with color to produce a sense of freshness and immediacy.

Gallery label from Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917, July 18–October 11, 2010
Additional text

Although Matisse’s title for this canvas accentuates its abstractness, notes taken during a 1931 interview with the artist indicate that it represents a view from a curtained window in the artist's home, including the blue glass canopy that covered the front door: "The curtain was red, the color of the yellow [represents its] lining and the pattern [was] added by the artist. The green frame of the window suggests the green of the trees outside and the cool contrast of the green of the trees and the blue sky necessitated the large mass of yellow which to the artist signifies the vibration and pleasure he derived from the contrast of trees and sky. It is not therefore a completely abstract picture but a picture which has its roots in reality."

Gallery label from 2011
Provenance information
Alphonse Kann (1870–1948), Saint-Germain-en-Laye, by 1931 [1]; confiscated during the Nazi occupation by the ERR (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg), October 1940 [2]; traded by the ERR to Gustav Rochlitz in exchange for an Old Master painting acquired for the Hermann Goering collection, February 9, 1942 [3]; sold to Paul Petrides, Paris [4]. Returned with the help of Henri Matisse to Alphonse Kann, London, 1946 [5]; by inheritance to his friend Michael Stewart (1918-1983), London, 1948 [6]; sold through Arthur Tooth & Sons, Ltd., London, 1951. Fernand C. Graindorge (1903-1985), Liège, 1951 [7]; to Marcel Mabille, Brussels, by 1956 [8]; sold to Stephen Hahn (1921-2011), New York, by 1981 [9]; sold through Acquavella Galleries to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1997 (Gift of Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, Nelson Rockefeller Bequest, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Weintraub, and Mary Sisler Bequest [all by exchange]).

[1] Lender to the exhibition Henri-Matisse, Galeries Georges Petit, Paris, June 1- July 25, 1931, no. 28( (Le Rideau jaune).
[2] The painting was stored at the Jeu de Paume in Paris. ERR inventory card KA 1061: Komposition in Blau und Gelb.
[3] One from a group of seven paintings (one by Leger, two by Braque, two by Matisse, one by Picasso, and one by de Chirico) exchanged by the ERR for one painting by the "School of the Master of Frankfurt." See OSS DIR #4 Gustav Rochlitz, ERR #13, pp. 7-8, no. 16 (View Through a Window), RG260 NARA M1946. OSS CIR# 1, exchange #13, no. 5, RG260 NARA M1946. See also contract between the ERR (Kurt von Behr) and Gustav Rochlitz, February 9, 1942, no. 5 (OSS CIR #2, NARA RG260 M1946).
[4] See OSS DIR #4 Gustav Rochlitz, ERR #13, pp. 7-8, RG260 NARA M1946.
[5] See letter Henri Matisse, Nice to Fernand Graindorge, Liège, October 24, 1951 (Matisse Archives, Paris). The painting was included in the exhibition Paintings by Picasso and Matisse, organized by the Association française d'action artistique and the British Council at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, December 1945 (no. 23: Fenêtre sur le jardin. 1919 [sic]/Window overlooking the garden). The exhibition catalogue lists the painting among loans from the Musée national d'art moderne. See also Madeleine Korn, "New Research on a Collector: Alphonse Kann and Michael Stewart," Nancy Yeide at al., Vitalizing Memory: International Perspectives on Provenance Research, Washington: American Association of Museums, 2005, pp. 110-111.
[6] Date of consignment: December 12, 1950 (Arthur Tooth & Sons stock inventories and accounts, 1871-1959, Series II, Box 21, ledger no. 8104, Getty Archives, Los Angeles).
[7] See letter Henri Matisse, Nice to Fernand Graindorge, Liège, October 24, 1951 ( Matisse Archives, Paris). On loan from Graindorge to the exhibitions Matisse, Grande sale des expositions de La Réserve, Knokke-le-Zoute, July 12-August 31, 1952, no. 18 (Le rideau chamois); Chefs-d'oeuvre de l'art ancien dans les musées et collections belges, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, May 29-June 24, 1953; and Collection Fernand Graindorge, Kunsthalle Basel, August 28-October 3, 1954.
[8] Per Dominique Fourcade, ed., Henri Matisse 1904-1917, exh. cat. Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1993, no. 124. Lender to the exhibition Henri Matisse, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, July 27-November 18, 1956, no. 37 (La fenêtre).
[9] Collection files 355.1997, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Per Fourcade 1993, Hahn acquired the painting in "1979 or 1980."

If you have any questions or information to provide about the listed works, please e-mail provenance@moma.org or write to:

Provenance Research Project
The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53 Street
New York, N.Y. 10019

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Image permissions

In order to effectively service requests for images, The Museum of Modern Art entrusts the licensing of images of works of art in its collections to the agencies Scala Archives and Art Resource. As MoMA’s representatives, these agencies supply high-resolution digital image files provided to them directly by the Museum's imaging studios.

All requests to reproduce works of art from MoMA's collection within North America (Canada, U.S., Mexico) should be addressed directly to Art Resource at 536 Broadway, New York, New York 10012. Telephone (212) 505-8700; fax (212) 505-2053; requests@artres.com; artres.com. Requests from all other geographical locations should be addressed directly to Scala Group S.p.A., 62, via Chiantigiana, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli/Firenze, Italy. Telephone 39 055 6233 200; fax 39 055 641124; firenze@scalarchives.com; scalarchives.com.

Requests for permission to reprint text from MoMA publications should be addressed to text_permissions@moma.org.

Related links:
Outside North America: Scala Archives
North America: Art Resource