Reader on a Black Background (1939) by Henri Matisse

Reader on a Black Background - Henri Matisse - 1939

Artwork Information

TitleReader on a Black Background
ArtistHenri Matisse
Dimensions92 x 73.5 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationGeorges Pompidou Center, Paris, France

About Reader on a Black Background

The artwork titled “Reader on a Black Background” is an oil on canvas painting by the artist Henri Matisse, completed in 1939. It exemplifies the Expressionism movement and qualifies as a genre painting. The work is of the dimensions 92 x 73.5 cm. Currently, it is housed in the Georges Pompidou Center, located in Paris, France.

“Reader on a Black Background” portrays a scene dominated by a female figure engrossed in reading. She is seated at a table, with her head supported by her hand, suggesting an attitude of deep concentration. Her attire is a simple, vibrant red dress, and she is rendered with Matisse’s characteristic use of bold and expressive color. The backdrop is mostly dark, creating a stark contrast that draws attention to the main subject. Despite the darkness, there is a visible window suggesting depth and an external space. The interior includes decorative elements such as a vase filled with flowers, unusually large in comparison with the figure, and artworks on the wall, which add another layer of artistic depth to the composition. Matisse’s fluid lines and the orchestrated play of colors and shapes epitomize his expressive style and contribute to the tranquil atmosphere, centering around the theme of reading and contemplation.

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