The Music Lesson (La lecon de musique) (1917) by Henri Matisse

The Music Lesson (La lecon de musique) - Henri Matisse - 1917

Artwork Information

TitleThe Music Lesson (La lecon de musique)
ArtistHenri Matisse
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions96 3/8 x 79 in. (244.7 x 200.7 cm)
Art MovementPost-Impressionism

About The Music Lesson (La lecon de musique)

The artwork titled “The Music Lesson (La lecon de musique)” is a creation by the esteemed artist Henri Matisse, completed in the year 1917. This oil on canvas genre painting is a quintessential piece of the Post-Impressionism movement, measuring an impressive 96 3/8 x 79 inches (244.7 x 200.7 cm). As a genre painting, it portrays scenes of everyday life, imbued with the stylistic elements and thematic concerns characteristic of its epoch.

The artwork presents a vibrant and colorful interior scene dominated by bold patterns and a sense of flattened space, a hallmark of Matisse’s style. Foregrounded in the painting, one observes a figure seated at a grand piano, which occupies a substantial portion of the lower canvas. The pianist’s hands, softly blurred, hover above the keys, suggesting a moment captured mid-melody. Next to the piano, a woman standing with an open music book engages in what may be instruction or a shared musical experience, witnessed by a child peeking over the top of the book.

In the lower left area, another seated figure, an adult male, seems absorbed in reading a book, oblivious to the musical interaction taking place just steps away. This figure’s presence adds a layer of everyday life, suggesting a multifaceted scene of domesticity with different activities happening concurrently.

Matisse has incorporated an open window into the design, expertly layering indoor and outdoor spaces. Through it, one can glimpse the outside world, replete with trees and presumably a garden or courtyard, enhancing the artwork with a connection to the natural world. The treatment of light in this painting is subtle yet effective, weaving through the space and reflecting on surfaces, endowing the work with warmth and vitality.

The strong use of color and the interplay between shapes and patterns are indicative of Matisse’s mastery in creating compositions that simultaneously invoke the real world and transcend it, employing innovative approaches to perspective and form. The artwork’s sense of rhythm and harmony is palpable, echoing the musical theme that inspires its title and subject matter.

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