The Girl with Green Eyes (1908) by Henri Matisse

The Girl with Green Eyes - Henri Matisse - 1908

Artwork Information

TitleThe Girl with Green Eyes
ArtistHenri Matisse
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions66 x 50.8 cm
Art MovementExpressionism
Current LocationSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art

About The Girl with Green Eyes

“The Girl with Green Eyes” is a striking oil on canvas portrait by Henri Matisse, completed in 1908. This artwork is emblematic of the Expressionism movement and measures 66 by 50.8 cm. It is currently held in the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The portrait is characterized by its vivid color palette and bold lines, a signature of Matisse’s style during this period.

Examining the artwork, one is immediately drawn to the subject’s arresting green eyes, which stand out against the warm tones of her skin and the rich, contrasting colors of her attire. Matisse’s use of color is both expressive and symbolic, with the green of the eyes serving as a focal point amidst the thickly applied swaths of reds, oranges, yellows, and blues that compose the background and the subject’s clothing. The figure’s gaze is direct and seems to engage the viewer, a testament to Matisse’s skill in capturing the essence of his model. The background and the clothing are rendered with a less naturalistic approach, emphasizing the emotional and psychological over the representational accuracy. This reveals the influence of Expressionism, where the artist’s perspective and emotion are paramount, and there is a distinct departure from the precise imitation of reality.

The composition is balanced yet dynamic, with decorative patterns that echo throughout the canvas—from the hat to the garment, revealing an intricate play between figure and space. The portrait, while intimate in its portrayal, is also a masterpiece of stylistic innovation, showcasing Matisse’s exploration of form, color, and expression which would go on to influence the direction of 20th-century art significantly.

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