Henri Matisse. The Blue Window. Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913

Henri Matisse

The Blue Window

Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913

Oil on canvas
51 1/2 x 35 5/8" (130.8 x 90.5 cm)
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
Object number
© 2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Painting and Sculpture
This work is on view on Floor 5, with 8 other works online.
Henri Matisse has 315 works  online.
There are 2,374 paintings online.

When this painting was first reproduced, in the May 1914 edition of the journal Les Soirées de Paris, it was titled La Glace sans tain, or "the mirror without silvering," referring to a device known as a Claude mirror: the dark, red-framed square in the picture. Many artists used one of these slightly convex, dark-tinted mirrors to clarify their compositions; a scene reflected in it is less colorful than life, its compositional elements accentuated. Something close to that effect is visible here in the structured vertical and horizontal bands and the cool blue palette that Matisse painted over other layers of color, some of which are still visible. As he simplified forms he reinforced them with incising and scraping, in, for example, the cloud at top left. Matisse used this view twice in his 1913 drypoint Bell Flower.

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

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.
The artist, Paris; acquired by Karl Ernst Osthaus (1874-1921) for the Folkwang Museum, Hagen, Germany, 1913 [1]; Estate of Karl Ernst Osthaus, Hagen, 1921-1922; acquisition of Osthaus' Hagen Collection by the Folkwang Museum Association, Essen, 1922 [2]; removed as "degenerate art" by the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, 1937 [3]; on consignment to Karl Buchholz, Berlin; to Buchholz Gallery (Curt Valentin), New York; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, April 13, 1939 (Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund) [4].
[1] Laurie Stein, "The History and Reception of Matisse's Bathers with a Turtle in Germany, 1908-1939," Henri Matisse. Bathers with Turtle, The Saint Louis Art Museum Bulletin (Fall 1998), p. 54. The painting was shipped from Paris on November 27, 1913. It arrived in Hagen at the end of December (letter Karl Ernst Osthaus to Henri Matisse, December 30, 1913, KEO-Archive, NACI 184/1-2).
[2] Ulrike Laufer, "Transfer der Folkwang-Sammlungen nach Essen," 'Das schönste Museum der Welt,' Sammlung Folkwang bis 1933, Hartwig Fischer, ed., exh. cat. Essen: Folkwang Museum, 2010, pp. 179-190.
[3] EK no. 3688: Stillleben, blaues Zimmer. One of 139 paintings removed from the Folkwang Essen in July and August 1937 (exh. cat. Folkwang 2010, p. 348). [4] Included in the exhibition Art in Our Time, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, May 10- September 30, 1939 (no. 93).

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