Odalisque with Magnolias was a lithograph created by Henri Matisse in 1923. This artwork measures 29 x 40 cm and was made using black ink on cream wove Japanese vellum. The subject matter of this lithograph is that of an odalisque, a female slave or concubine, relaxing amidst magnolia flowers.
Matisse was known for painting the theme of odalisques throughout his career. His trip to Morocco inspired him to create such works, often featuring women lounging in exotic settings. Odalisque with Magnolias is one such piece that demonstrates Matisse’s unique style and the influence he drew from his travels.
The artwork has also gained attention for its history of ownership. David Rockefeller purchased it in 1958 before it was sold at an auction in New York in 2018. Despite the frequent portrayal of odalisques by Matisse and other artists alike, art history texts have not traditionally examined this subject matter closely.
To celebrate this aspect of art history, the Norton Simon Museum has an exhibit focused on odalisques by Matisse and other artists who have depicted them throughout history.
Overall, Odalisque with Magnolias serves as both a representation of Matisse’s artistic style and gives insight into his fascination with subjects like odalisques that have gained little attention until recently because they are seen as culturally insensitive today despite romanticism towards them historically in western society