Talk: An Open Window to the Sea: Matisse on the Cote d'Azur
Henri Matisse was born into the northern darkness of Picardy, in a tiny cottage, on New Year’s Eve 1869. At the age of 47, on a December day in 1917, he moved to the sunshine of the C…te d’Azur, where he stayed until his death in 1953. The dazzle of light from the Baie des Anges, slicing through half-closed shutters, and pooling in the blue velvet of his violin case, with the sea breeze blowing the voile curtains, liberated Matisse from the dark tension of his Paris years into a world of colour and sensuality.
He created numerous paintings of sun-filled rooms with views of the Mediterranean that capture the spirit of the French Riviera, its heat and its light. The music from Matisse’s violin, or his old wind-up phonograph, still hangs in the air in these warm, calm, interiors full of the scent of pineapples, melons, peaches and flowers, and the viewer is beguiled by his rich fabrics and slumbering odalisques.
The open window is a motif and metaphor that continually appears in his work, sometimes as an image of imprisonment during his time in Paris, but typically of liberty and happiness in his Ni…oise years.