Woman Before an Aquarium (1921-23) by Henri Matisse

Woman Before an Aquarium - Henri Matisse - 1921-23

Artwork Information

TitleWoman Before an Aquarium
ArtistHenri Matisse
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions32 x 39 1/2" (81.3 x 100.3 cm)
Current LocationThe Art Institute of Chicago

About Woman Before an Aquarium

Henri Matisse’s Woman Before An Aquarium is a popular painting completed in 1923. This piece combines the themes of women in decorated interiors and staged exotic scenes from his Nice period. Goldfish, a recurring subject in Matisse’s work, were also included in this painting. In fact, they appeared in nine of his paintings and other media.

Matisse has always been fascinated by North African and Middle Eastern cultures. He is known for pioneering modern plastic arts with his use of color as well as starting the Fauvism art movement with his painting Woman with a Hat. The canvas weave densities and thread angle variations of Woman Before An Aquarium have been analyzed using digital scans.

Patricia Hampl wrote an ekphrastic poem imagining the thoughts of the woman depicted in the painting. Another similar art piece by Matisse is Young Woman Before An Aquarium. In summary, Henri Matisse’s Woman Before An Aquarium presents an interesting blend of themes that draws on Matisse’s fascination with goldfish and exotic cultures as exemplified by North Africa and Middle East while showcasing his signature style that became synonymous with Fauvism art movement.

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