The Goldfish Bowl (1921 – 1922) by Henri Matisse

The Goldfish Bowl - Henri Matisse - 1921 - 1922

Artwork Information

TitleThe Goldfish Bowl
ArtistHenri Matisse
Date1921 - 1922
Art MovementFauvism

About The Goldfish Bowl

“The Goldfish Bowl” is an artwork created by Henri Matisse between 1921 and 1922. It belongs to the Fauvism art movement, which is characterized by strong colors and bold brushwork. The genre of the artwork falls under still life, showcasing inert subjects.

In the artwork, a transparent goldfish bowl sits at the center, atop a table or other flat surface. Inside, lively orange and white goldfish swim, creating a vivid focal point. Beside the bowl, there’s an array of other objects, which may include a jar containing decorative elements and a publication, perhaps a magazine, with the visible text “les modes” suggesting an element of contemporary interest or fashion at the time. Additionally, fruits—possibly apples and a lemon—are arranged in front of the bowl, adding to the still life composition. The table surface is rendered with a nuanced contour, providing a sense of depth and perspective.

The background is adorned with plant-like decorative motifs, possibly wallpapers or a hanging textile, which employs a repetitive design to create a rhythmic pattern. Another scene is discernible in the upper right corner, an indistinct depiction of figures in a pastoral setting, quite possibly a miniature painting or photograph within the artwork.

Matisse’s use of color and form encapsulates the Fauvist approach, where the palette is not strictly representative of reality, but rather expressive and emotive. The subdued yet deliberate choice of hues contrasts with the typical intensity expected of Fauvism, suggesting a tranquil domestic scene, perhaps reflective of interior personal spaces and the pleasure found in simple comforts. The overall composition embodies the essence of a moment captured, a domestic tranquility offset by a lively hint of the outside world, in which the goldfish offer a vibrant splash of movement and color.

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