Art/ Collection/ Art Object


Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice)
Oil on canvas
57 1/2 x 38 in. (146.1 x 96.5 cm)
Credit Line:
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
In the years just before World War I, Matisse and many of his acquaintances challenged traditionally held views on painting. Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris were working in a Cubist vein, but Matisse was too intrigued by the sensory nature of objects and arabesque line to join them. Instead, he spent this period engrossed in "experimentation, liberalization, color, problems of color-as-energy, of color-as-light." In Lilacs, Matisse seems particularly interested in the ability of light to dematerialize objects. Illuminated from the right, the stems of the flowers disappear under the artist’s gaze, leaving only the brightly colored blossoms and leaves. A pipe and small sculpture complete this still life, which was presumably painted in the spring of 1914. The plaster cast at right is known as Small Crouching Nude with Arms and was created several years before the painting.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Henri Matisse 14
the artist (1914–d. 1954; reserved for Sergei Shchukin but retained upon outbreak of World War I; the artist's estate, 1955); his widow, Amélie Matisse (1955–d. 1958; her estate, 1958–60; in 1960 to P. Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1960–d. 1989); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)

New York. Montross Gallery. "Henri Matisse Exhibition," January 20–February 27, 1915, no. 61.

Paris. Galerie Paul Guillaume. "Matisse," October 8–14, 1926, no catalogue.

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Henri Matisse: Paintings," January 23–February 24, 1934, extended to March 3, no. 25.

Berlin. Preussische Akademie der Künste. "Ausstellung Französischer Kunst der Gegenwart," June 5–July, 1937, no. 226.

New York. Pierre Matisse Gallery. "Drawings by Henri Matisse, Small Pictures by French Painters," April 15–May 3, 1941, no. 9.

Knokke-le-Zoute. Grande salle des expositions de "La Réserve". "Matisse," July 12–August 31, 1952, no. 17.

Los Angeles. UCLA Art Galleries. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," January 5–February 27, 1966, no. 38.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," March 11–April 24, 1966, no. 38.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," May 11–June 26, 1966, no. 38.

Paris. Grand Palais. "Henri Matisse: Exposition du centenaire," April 21–September 21, 1970, no. 123.

Madrid. Fundación Juan March. "Matisse: Oleos, dibujos, gouaches découpées, esculturas y libros," October 13–December 14, 1980, no. 15.

National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. "Machisu ten / Matisse," March 20–May 17, 1981, no. 36.

National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto. "Machisu ten / Matisse," May 26–July 19, 1981, no. 36.

Kunsthaus Zürich. "Henri Matisse," October 15, 1982–January 16, 1983, no. 40.

Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. "Henri Matisse," January 30–April 4, 1983, no. 40.

Moderna Museet, Stockholm. "Henri Matisse," November 3, 1984–January 6, 1985, no. 21.

Humlebaek. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. "Henri Matisse," January 19–April 14, 1985, no. 28.

Venice. Museo Correr. "Henri Matisse: Matisse et l'Italie," May 30–October 18, 1987, no. P21.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Henri Matisse: A Retrospective," September 24, 1992–January 12, 1993, extended to January 19, 1993, no. 175.

Paris. Centre Georges Pompidou. "Henri Matisse 1904–1917," February 25–June 21, 1993, no. 116.

Rome. Musei Capitolini. "Matisse: 'La révélation m'est venue de l'Orient'," September 20, 1997–January 20, 1998, no. 57.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.

Paris. Mona Bismarck Foundation. "Pierre Matisse, passeur passionné: Un marchand d'art et ses artistes," October 20, 2005–January 14, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 119).

Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," January 21–April 29, 2007, no. 70.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," June 9–September 16, 2007, no. 70.

Baltimore Museum of Art. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," October 28, 2007–February 3, 2008, no. 70.

Art Institute of Chicago. "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917," March 20–June 20, 2010, no. 27 (as "Branch of Lilacs").

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917," July 18–October 11, 2010, no. 27.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Matisse in the Studio," April 9–July 9, 2017, unnumbered cat. (fig. 68).

Royal Academy of Arts, London. "Matisse in the Studio," August 5–November 12, 2017, unnumbered cat.

Walter Pach. "Why Matisse?" Century Magazine (February 1915), p. 633.

[Charles Henry Dorr]. "News of the Art World." New York World (January 24, 1915), section 2, p. 5.

"Art at Home and Abroad: News and Comment, Matisse at the Montross Galleries." New York Times (January 24, 1915), p. SM11.

Philippe Marcel. "Henri Matisse." L'Art d'aujourd'hui 1 (Summer 1924), colorpl. XVIII.

Albert E. Elsen. The Sculpture of Henri Matisse. New York, [1972], p. 113, fig. 149.

Donald E. Gordon. Modern Art Exhibitions, 1900–1916: Selected Catalogue Documentation. Vol. 2, Munich, 1974, pp. 862–63 ( Exh. New York 1915 checklist).

Fernando Gutierrez. "Matisse, o del color y de la gracia." La Vanguardia 1980 (November 9, 1980), unpaginated, ill.

Mario Luzi and Massimo Carrà. Tout l'oeuvre peint de Matisse, 1904–1928. Paris, 1982, p. 94, no. 186, ill.

Isabelle Monod-Fontaine. The Sculpture of Henri Matisse. Exh. cat., Arts Council of Great Britain. London, 1984, pp. 29–30, 149, fig. 40.

Jack Flam. Matisse: The Man and His Art, 1869–1918. Ithaca, 1986, pp. 380, 383, fig. 380.

Georges Duthuit. "Les tableaux qui nous entourent ce soir...: Conférence au vernissage d'une exposition Matisse à la Galerie Paul Guillaume, le 8 octobre 1926." Georges Duthuit: Ècrtits sur Matisse. Ed. Rémi Labrusse. Paris, 1992, pp. 47, 50, 303 n. 2, [lecture presented on the occasion of Exh. Paris 1926].

Walter Guadagnini. Matisse. Milan, 1993, p. 149, ill. (color).

Sophie Monneret. Matisse. Paris, 1994, p. 99, no. 212, ill.

Michèle C. Cone. "French Art of the Present in Hitler's Berlin." Art Bulletin 80 (September 1998), pp. 556, 558, 563, 567, n. 13, fig. 9.

John Russell. Matisse: Father & Son. New York, 1999, p. 401, ill.

John H. Cauman. "Matisse and America, 1905–1933." PhD diss., City University of New York, 2000, pp. 257, 271, fig. 2.8.

Pierre Schneider. Matisse. Rev. ed. (English ed., 1984). Paris, 2002, pp. 350–51, 438, ill.

Sabine Rewald in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), ill. cover.

Holland Cotter. "Matisse the Son, Illuminating His Father's Legacy." New York Times (2004), p. E28.

Rebecca A. Rabinow in Masterpieces of European Painting, 1800–1920, in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2007, pp. 199, 275, no. 184, ill. (color and bw).

Pierre Schneider in La Colección Pierre y Maria-Gaetana Matisse en The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nueva York/ The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Exh. cat., Museo Picasso Málaga. Malaga, 2007, p. 52.

Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 95–96, 160–61, ill. (color).

Rebecca Rabinow in Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 316 n. 14.

Helen Burnham in Matisse in the Studio. Exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 2017, pp. 87, 197, fig. 68 (color).

Related Objects

Nude Seated in a Rocking Chair

Artist: Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice) Date: 1913 Medium: Lithograph Accession: 1984.1203.97 On view in:Not on view

Icarus, plate VIII from the illustrated book, "Jazz"

Artist: Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice) Date: 1947 Medium: Pochoir Accession: 1983.1009(8) On view in:Not on view

Head of a Man; Floral Background

Artist: Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice) Date: 1914 Medium: Etching on chine collé Accession: 29.89.2 On view in:Not on view

Gravures originales sur le thème de Pasiphaé Pour le texte de H. de Montherlant

Artist: Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice) Date: 1981 Medium: Linoleum cut Accession: 1982.1030.1–.2 On view in:Not on view


Artist: Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice) Date: 1947 Medium: Pochoir Accession: 1983.1009(1–22) On view in:Not on view