Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) is an oil painting on canvas by the French artist Henri Matisse. Completed in 1907, it is one of the early examples of Matisse’s love for nudes that he continued to explore throughout his career. The painting shocked the French public when it was exhibited at the 1907 Société des Artistes Indépendants due to its radical composition and style.
The painting depicts a reclining nude figure with blue skin and bold contours against a yellow background. It was named after Biskra, a town in Algeria where Matisse visited in 1906 and was inspired by North African art. Blue Nude received harsh criticism from observers who were facing such an outright violation of traditional standards of beauty and realism.
Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) exemplified the last stage of Matisse’s life and artistic career, where he focused primarily on color through simplified forms. As one critic notes: “In retrospect, Blue Nude can be viewed as part of a shift towards abstraction that many modern artists were making near the turn-of-the-century.”
Today, Blue Nude (Souvenir of Biskra) is part of the Cone Collection at Baltimore Museum of Art. It remains a popular subject for art enthusiasts who appreciate Matisse’s bold use of color and innovative approach to form in this masterpiece.