Decorative Figure Henri Matisse Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse was painted in oil on canvas in 1925 and depicts an Oriental background with a foreground female figure who is nude. Many critics consider this to be Matisse's final work on the subject of female nudes in such an ornamental and Moorish setting.

Moreover, Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse continues to stick to an Expressionist theme, looking to arouse emotion and desire in the viewer rather than imitating a realistic subject matter. The female nude in question is incredibly relaxed and alluring, her naked body unabashed in its curves, the colourful background filled with distinctively Moorish almost symmetrical floral designs that compete for attention. However, despite their pleasing repetitive design and clashing yet still complimentary colours, Matisse never lets this background overwhelm the painting or distract the viewer's attention from the female nude as the central figure.

The background of Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse also features a bowl of fruit and a potted palm tree, which gives the painting a sense of depth and structure. The cloth that is draped across the thigh of the female nude only helps to enhance her shape and bring attention to her lack of clothing, rather than add any real form of concealment. Although Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse may seem cluttered at first glance, on further viewing it is clear that each object has its place and space in the painting, with the smooth skin of the female nude standing out even against the richer, brighter colours of the other elements that surround her.

Henri Matisse was influenced by many other artists working at the same time, especially during the War years of 1917-1935, during which Decorative Figure was painted. The languorous pose of the female nude echoes many of Pablo Picasso's works on a similar subject matter. Along with being part of the Expressionist movement of painters, Matisse was also heavily influenced by Neoclassicalism, a style also favoured by Stravinsky and Picasso. Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse certainly shows a female nude who could be said to appear Neoclassical in style, with her high round breasts and the pronounced feminine curves of her belly and thighs. Her calm, almost expressionless face, also harks back to the serene expressions seen in depictions of Neoclassical nudes.

Decorative Figure by Henri Matisse remains highly influential, with Matisse himself recognised as one of the most important of the modern artists, with a career that spanned over six decades.