Matisse painted this oil sketch in the summer of 1904, while working alongside fellow artist Paul Signac on the French Riviera, and he completed the final painting (now at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris) the following winter. Both Signac and Matisse were influenced by the elder painter Paul Cézanne, whose discrete strokes of color emphasized the materiality of the painted surface over naturalistic illusion. But Matisse went further, using a palette of pure, high-pitched colors (blue, green, yellow, and orange) to render the landscape, and outlining the figures in blue. The painting takes its title from a line by the nineteenth-century poet Charles Baudelaire and shares the poems subject of an escape to an imaginary, tranquil refuge.
Gallery label from 2010.