Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
Oil on canvas
40 x 32 3/4 in. (101.6 x 83.2 cm)
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.41)
© 2011 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Beginning in 1905, Matisse spent the summers—and sometimes even the winters—in Collioure and continued to do so intermittently until about 1914. It was in Collioure that the sitter for The Young Sailor, an eighteen-year-old local fisherman named Germain Augustin Barthélémy Montargès (1888–1938), caught his eye. In this second version of the painting (the first, dated 1906, is in a private collection), the contours have been sharpened, the forms are more defined, and the colors have been reduced to large, mostly flat areas of bright green, blue, and pink—a decorative style and palette adopted by Matisse from this point on. Matisse also drastically altered the sailor's mood and expression. His stylizing brush wiped off the earlier round-cheeked youthfulness of Germain's face, replacing it with a masklike expression of savvy cunning from which a touch of licentiousness seems not absent. Germain's rather theatrical looks and his colorful costume, set against the pink candy-colored ground, combine to make this work one of Matisse's most decorative portraits in the Fauve manner.