Still Life with Black Knives (1896) by Henri Matisse

Still Life with Black Knives - Henri Matisse - 1896

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Black Knives
ArtistHenri Matisse
Dimensions60 x 85 cm
Art MovementRealism

About Still Life with Black Knives

The artwork “Still Life with Black Knives” by Henri Matisse dates back to 1896 and is a fine example of the Realism art movement. Measuring 60 x 85 cm, this still life genre painting captures the essence of everyday objects arranged thoughtfully for artistic contemplation.

The artwork exhibits a composition of various ordinary items typically found in a domestic setting. A white tablecloth serves as the base for the assembly, enhancing the visual contrast with the objects. On the table, two knives with dark handles draw immediate attention due to their stark color against the pale background. Surrounding the knives is an array of items suggesting a setting poised for a meal or the remnants of one. There are plates bearing fruit, with apples and pears rendered in a naturalistic manner, showcasing Matisse’s attention to form and color. A loaf of bread extends into the composition, suggesting the potential for a shared meal.

In addition to the tableware, the scene includes several bottles, each varying in color and transparency, reflecting the light differently and adding depth to the painting. Among the bottles, a decorative vase or jar features a distinct pattern, indicative of the care Matisse took to convey texture and design even in the simplest of objects. The setting is framed by the vague background hints of a room, with a door or window suggesting a space beyond the immediate scene. The painting as a whole conveys a moment captured in time, emphasizing the beauty found in the mundane through the artist’s realistic yet interpretative representation.

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