Lorette (Laurette) in a Green Robe against a Black Background 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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An Italian model by the name of Lorette, sometimes documented as Laurette, would pose many times for Henri Matisse, with this depiction being completed in 1916.

Here we find her looking downcast, staring down at the ground. She wears a bright green outfit which reaches right down to her feet. It is loose and oversized. Her stunning dark hair is neatly styled and hangs over the back of her shoulders. She sits on a pink chair which has a white pattern across it, possibly a floral design. The background is black and sucks out any detail from outside of the two objects. Her face is clear defined with a single tone for each size, similar to how faces were created in traditional African art. There is a suggestion of overhanging material on her dress, with perhaps some pleated features below her waist. Her skin is a very light tone which then contrasts markedly with the background behind, but perfectly complements the green of her outfit.

Incredibly, Lorette would appear in around twenty five Matisse portraits over the space of around twelve months, starting at the end of 1916. In some other examples from this prolific period, Matisse would actually place other figures alongside her, including her own sister. Compared to the other compositions, her attire is particularly simple here, without any jewellery for example, nor makeup. Experts have concluded that the chair is of "Second Empire" style and also have documented the location of these paintings as having been in in his studio in Quai Saint-Michel in Paris, which is also from where he created his depictions of the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The artist and his wife had been intended to holiday in Morocco before changing their mind and renting this location in Paris instead.

The painting is now a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the US. It was donated to the institution in 1998 from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Much of the gallery's display is as the result of similar types of generous donations such as this one, often from people who have enjoyed visiting the venue themselves within their own lifetime and then seek to further boost its offering by giving some of their own works, sometimes as bequeathed gifts. You will find a number of other artworks from Matisse within their collection too, many hundreds in fact at the last time of counting, including many paintings and also some sculptures and drawings. This particular artwork is considered one of the most intriguing of the various portraits made of Lorette at this time.