Still Life with a Shell (1940) by Henri Matisse

Still Life with a Shell - Henri Matisse - 1940

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with a Shell
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementExpressionism

About Still Life with a Shell

The artwork “Still Life with a Shell” by Henri Matisse, dated 1940, is a distinguished example of the Expressionism movement and fits within the still life genre. Matisse, renowned for his use of color and fluidity in depiction, crafts a scene that defies strict realism in favor of emotional representation.

In this particular artwork, a bold composition of objects is set against a dark background, with prominent items that include a shell, a pitcher adorned with blue motifs, a cup with similar blue decorations, and what appears to be fruit, resembling apples or perhaps citrus, rendered in hues that evoke a sense of brightness against the somber backdrop. The use of contrasting colors and the abstracted rendering of the objects are hallmarks of Matisse’s expressionistic approach, allowing the viewer to experience the still life in a manner that prioritizes emotion over representational accuracy. The flatness of the plane, juxtaposed with the curvilinear outlines and vibrant colors, is characteristic of Matisse’s style during this period.

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