Henri Matisse: “The Portrait of Madame Matisse” Structural Analysis

In 1905, using oil on canvas, Henri Matisse created a painting called The Portrait of Madame Matisse, The Green Stripe.

Henri Matisse uses loose brushstrokes and allows the white-painted canvas to be shown. This thickly applied paint used from the tube creates a rich, strong, heavy image to the viewer, revealing the fauvist technique.

“The Portrait of Madame Matisse, the Green Stripe,” was created in the Fauvist art movement.

Madame Matisse is shown in the painting from her shoulders to the top of her hair, which is done in a bun. She is staring directly at the painter-Henri Matisse. Her hair is an unrealistic black-blue, and the width of her hair is relatively wider than the width of her face. She is wearing a bold orange jumper with a V-shape neckline. The hems of the V-neck on her jumper are green with spots of red. Just on the edge of her V-neck are green stitches. The colour orange in her jumper gradually transforms into a light, warm, pastel pink, with traces of white. Her jumper is boldly outlined with a deep, dark black-blue colour-balancing the colour of her hair.

Her face is a creamy-yellow, pale white colour with an olive green stripe down the middle of her face to represent the shadow, that the light from the right side of her face has caused, therefore creating a creamy white colour on the right side of her face, and a more yellow colour down the left side of her face, where light isn’t as predominate.
The background is an assortment of three bright, lively, and strong colours- fairy-floss pink, deep emerald green that gets darker as it gets closer to her face, and a bold orange.

Henri Matisse has portrayed the face in the fauvist technique using pale white, mellow yellow, and lime green, generating an effect of surrealism, aggressiveness, and stimulation.

The outcome of the colours rich blue and bold black in Madame Matisse’s hair establishes his wants to produce the feelings of strength, exposure and vitality to the observer.

The contrasting colours of sea green, pale pink and deep orange in the background form Henri’s mood and feelings at the time. Surely, the colours don’t exist for real, so Henri Matisse uses the colours to express his feelings at the moment.
The tone of the artwork is strong and gradual. The colours are light but the convert to darker and dominate colours, for example, the colour of her hair. The lines are bold and thick, and balance her hair out. The shapes reveal the simplicities of Matisse’s artwork and the stable compositions of his impressions and drawings.

Matisse has positioned the woman close up, from the shoulders to the top of her head. The woman’s position takes up most of the space. The woman is painted to make it feel as if she is right next to or close to the background, rather than really far away from it. The light is shining from the right side of the painting. It casts shadows onto the face and neck and on her clothes.

I think the artwork shows Matisse experimenting with different techniques using his wife to model. I think he is also trying to portray his wife differently rather than showing a photographic-like painting and using the fauvist technique, he is depicting his wife using colours and shades rather than with accurate lines.

I think this artwork is successful because I think it the artwork really reveals Matisse’s great capabilities to express his style of painting well. I admire him for painting with a unique style and so differently to average painters. I like how he has focused more on colour and tone than on the accuracy of line drawing. I praise him for using such bold colours and depicting form and shape by contrasting pure areas of colour. I, and many others, probably respect his great thinking and want for change. It is great to see him serve an expression so well. I was impressed when he said, “To paint an autumn landscape I will not try to remember what colours suit this season. I will be inspired only by the sensation that the season gives me; the icy clearness of the sour blue sky will express the season just as well as the tonalities of the leaves…”

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