Large Cliff: the Eel (1920) by Henri Matisse

Large Cliff: the Eel - Henri Matisse - 1920

Artwork Information

TitleLarge Cliff: the Eel
ArtistHenri Matisse

About Large Cliff: the Eel

The artwork titled “Large Cliff: the Eel” was created by the artist Henri Matisse in the year 1920. Belonging to the landscape genre, this piece reflects Matisse’s unique approach to form and color, which were significant aspects of his artistic expression.

In the artwork, we observe a dynamic and colorful portrayal of a coastal scene. The composition is divided into areas of distinct color, featuring a prominent cliff to the right. On the left, a towering structure, possibly a fortification, is splotched with earthy tones, creating an effect of textured decay or growth. In the foreground, a swirling form, with the appearance of an eel, takes on an almost abstract quality through Matisse’s loose and expressive brushwork. This element adds a touch of life and movement to the serene landscape. The middle ground is dominated by a body of water rendered in a tranquil blue, leading the eye to the distant cliffs, which are bathed in sunlight and rendered in bright hues that suggest warmth and distance. The sky above is treated with a lighter touch, indicating either a bright sky or the effects of coastal mist. The immediacy of Matisse’s brushstrokes gives the scene a sense of spontaneity and vitality, engaging the viewer in the artist’s perception of the natural vista.

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