Still Life with Lemons (1914) by Henri Matisse

Still Life with Lemons - Henri Matisse - 1914

Artwork Information

TitleStill Life with Lemons
ArtistHenri Matisse
Art MovementExpressionism

About Still Life with Lemons

“Still Life with Lemons,” a work by Henri Matisse dating from 1914, is a representative piece within the Expressionist movement and falls under the genre of still life. The artwork displays a compelling arrangement of objects that exude a sense of emotional intensity and simplify the complex shapes into bold areas of color. The blending of different hues and tones, as well as the use of contrasting patterns, are distinctive features of this piece, characterizing Matisse’s innovative approach to Expressionism.

In the artwork, the viewer is presented with a composition that juxtaposes everyday objects to create a scene charged with visual interest. The focal point appears to be a blue pedestal table holding a bowl with two lemons, one of which is partially peeled, giving a glimpse of the bright citrus flesh beneath. This vibrant yellow color of the lemons draws the eye and contrasts with the various hues surrounding them. To the right, a dark vase stands in silhouette against a light-colored wall, balanced in the composition by the presence of a book with the word “TAFLS” on its cover, situated on a crimson-colored surface. To the left, we see a section of a vertically striped structure, adding to the overall rhythm of the painting. Additionally, the inclusion of a light orange-shaped element at the lower right further punctuates the assortment of colors and shapes.

Matisse’s use of flattened space and a reductive form emphasizes the emotional expression over representational accuracy. Through this stylization, he conveys a more profound sense concerning the nature of the objects, transcending their mere physical form. The thick and deliberate brushstrokes, coupled with the bold contours and simplified color planes, are characteristic of the Expressionist desire to evoke mood and subjective interpretation rather than to mimic reality. This artwork is, therefore, not merely a portrayal of inanimate objects but rather an expressive synthesis of color and form that seeks to stir the observer’s emotional response.

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