Odalisque (1925) by Henri Matisse

Odalisque - Henri Matisse - 1925

Artwork Information

ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementFauvism

About Odalisque

The artwork titled “Odalisque” was created by the artist Henri Matisse in the year 1925. It is associated with the Fauvism art movement and can be classified within the genre of nude painting (nu). This piece is amongst Matisse’s works that epitomize the vivid coloration and strong compositional structures characteristic of the Fauvist style.

In the artwork, a female figure is depicted in an interior setting. The woman is presented as an odalisque, a term historically used to refer to a chambermaid or a female attendant in the private quarters of the Ottoman sultan, though in art it has often come to be associated with an exoticized and sensual figure. She appears partially draped with a patterned garment around her lower body, leaving her upper body unclothed. Her pose is one of casual repose with a slight contrapposto, her weight resting on one leg, while the other is extended, hinting at a relaxed state.

The surroundings are rendered with bold, expressive brushstrokes and include a window with shutters ajar, allowing the viewer to glimpse the outdoors where flowering plants are visible. A large patterned chair or piece of furniture resides on the right side of the composition, its design sharply contrasting with the geometric tiled flooring. The scene is permeated with a harmonious yet vivid color palette, reflecting the use of non-naturalistic hues that Fauvism is known for. The woman’s body and the environment both benefit from the interplay of light and shadow, although the treatment is not strictly realistic, aligning with the Fauvist preference for color over representational accuracy.

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