Still Life with Lemon (1921) by Henri Matisse

Still Life with Lemon - Henri Matisse - 1921

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Lemon
ArtistHenri Matisse

About Still Life with Lemon

The artwork “Still Life with Lemon” by Henri Matisse is a fine example of the still life genre, created in 1921. The piece reflects Matisse’s continued exploration of color and form, as it was executed during a period that followed his earlier Fauvist phase, characterized by the bold use of color.

This still life composition features a table upon which rests a bright yellow lemon, positioned on the left side. The lemon draws the viewer’s attention with its vibrant color, which stands out against the darker background. Nearby, there is a sizeable greenish-black piece of foliage with various holes, possibly Swiss cheese, draped with white fabric, some of which holds red-colored segments resembling slices of peppers or maybe tomato. The foliage’s broad leaves offer a dark contrast to the rest of the composition, providing an organic texture. To the right stands a stark white pitcher, its solidity and the spout’s subtle curvature offer a pictorial balance to the lemon’s circular form. Behind the pitcher, one can discern a subtle gradient, likely indicating a wall meeting the table surface. The background is kept relatively dark, possibly to enhance the still life objects’ luminance and dimensional presence.

The surface of the table has a warm, reflective tone, suggesting a polished wood or perhaps some varnished material, upon which the objects are carefully arranged. Matisse’s brushwork is evident in the background, with scratched or lightly painted lines that create an impression of texture or a hint of movement that contrasts with the stillness of the arranged objects, thus adding dynamism to the scene.

Matisse’s composition in “Still Life with Lemon” exemplifies his skill in orchestrating color and form to create a harmonious and visually engaging arrangement, capturing the essence of the still life genre with a modern sensibility.

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