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The blue tones in this piece are extraordinary, dominated this charming piece which captures a conversation between two figures, presumably man and wife. Matisse completed this painting in 1908–1912.
The bearded gentleman on the left wears light blue pyjamas with white stripes. He stands tall, overlapping the top and bottom of the canvas and therefore proving a frame to the left hand side of the canvas. His partner is sat down, wearing a black dress or gown, with dark hair draped backwards. Facial detail is limited here, so we have to study more in order to find out the atmosphere within this room. They seem to hold a serious look at each other, though the garden at the back is bright and upbeat. There is a single tree with landscaped grass surrounding several rows of potted plants which are sat in curved openings. There is also a nicely designed iron fence which perhaps sits next to their window, or through an opening at the end of a small path.
Matisse took time to establish a market for his work but found a keen collector in Russian Sergei Shchukin who was immediately impressed by his work and sought to purchase as many as he could. Most of those he claimed are now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where they make up some of the highlights of their huge collection. They were actually taken from the collector by force, before later being handed over to the state. His loss was our gain, certainly, as visitors to this culturally significant city can now enjoy some of the most significant pieces from this modern master. Research has shown that this painting actually captures the artist and his wife, Amélie. Matisse liked to flatten perspective in many of his paintings, which in this case is done in the foreground, within the blue-dominant room.
The dominant tones of blue will perhaps remind some of the much later work from David Hockney, titled Red Pots In The Garden. This modern artist is famed for his colour and has produced a huge array of work of many decades, across a variety of different mediums. An interesting decision from Matisse within The Conversation was to also portray the chair in blue as well, ensuring that is merges in with the background, thus increasing the importance, visually, of both figures. They stand out brilliantly and capture your eye every time, before then you notice the charming garden in the far distance, through the window that lies between them. In terms of the couple here, that could well remind you of another Hockney painting, namely Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, though in that example the figures are staring directly at the viewer and much more detail is added.