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Music was completed by Henri Matisse in 1910 and is in the format of a large wall mural, as requested by Sergei Shchukin, who himself had commissioned the painting.
Followers of Matisse's oeuvre will immediately see a similarity with his series of pieces titled Dance, in terms of composition and colour. The tones of blue and orange match in both and the figures are stylistically similar too. Russia, as it is now, purchased many of Matisse's best work and this explains why Music can now be found on display at the Hermitage Museum, alongside one of the artist's Dance series. In terms of ownership, it made it's way from Shchukin's mansion to this breaktaking gallery as a bequeathed gift.
This huge mural was sized at almost four metres wide and would have been designed especially for the particular position that it would originally have been displayed. Russia itself has a strong record in modern art movements, despite its society still being relatively traditional. Few can forget the work of Ukrainian Kazimir Malevich, whilst other Russian-born artists (such as Wassily Kandinsky) would travel to Western Europe or the US in order to maximise their career opportunities.
Many preparatory drawings remain from Matisse's career but none were produced for this painting. Several other series of artworks had endless figurative sketches in order to perfect every fine detail, such as his Blue Nudes, but in this case the artist simply amended the piece on the fly. If one is lucky enough to view this piece up close, they will be able to make out individual pencil lines and other adjustments made by Matisse as he developed this piece. From the intended viewpoint of this large mural, of several metres away, one would not be able to make out any of these procedural clues.
Matisse found inspiration in capturing the state of humans when completely taken by music and dance. His work aimed to cover different figures within this same scenario. Here you will find a piper placed on the left hand side, along with two dancing women. Music has long featured as inspiration in art, across a whole variety of different art movements. In other paintings the artist would also feature violinists and other 'sociable' musicians.
The Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia, where this painting now resides, holds a fabulous art collection, going way beyond just the Matisse paintings that can be found there. For example, some of the other highlights to be enjoyed here include Impressionist artists like Pissarro, Renoir, Degas and Cezanne. There were several notable Russian collectors during this period which explains how many notable western artists would find their work dispersed across this country during their own lifetimes and just after.