Over the summer of 1916 Matisse brought many of his most ambitious works to conclusion, including Jeannette (V). Its severity and formal and psychological concentration set it apart from its predecessors, but these qualities open onto something more extreme—a primal, atavistic power well beyond the traditional protocols of portraiture. Matisse began Jeannette (V) from the plaster cast of Jeannette (III) rather than the more recent Jeannette (IV), perhaps imagining it as an alternate final composition. He removed the clump of hair while adding mass to the brow, carving lines from the hairline down the bust, and elongating the neck. The compacted mass and weight of the forms produce a dense, unified final work.
Gallery label from Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917, July 18–October 11, 2010