Henri Matisse - Still Life with Blue Tablecloth 1906

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Still Life with Blue Tablecloth 1906

Still Life with Blue Tablecloth 1906
88x116cm oil/canvas
Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

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From Hermitage, St. Petersburg:
Once again the artist turned to his favourite piece of fabric, also to be seen in the "Vase, Bottle and Fruit" (1906) and somewhat transformed in "The Red Room" (1908; both Hermitage). Although the fabric was subjugated to Matisse's artistic will, repeatedly changing its colour and pattern, moving now further from, now closer to, the original, it is always easily recognisable. The artist's love for particular objects runs through many works, and this still life also includes a familiar fruit vase and hot-chocolate pot, seen already in "Crockery on a Table" (1900, Hermitage). Matisse took a daring and inspired approach in "Still Life with Blue Tablecloth", as if making use of the full potential of this device of richly patterned fabric descending, sinking down, from top to bottom. Unlike "The Red Room", where the fabric was just one, if striking, form-shaping and emotional element, and where the dialogue with the window was equally important, here the fabric-tablecloth is uncompromisingly the central element, its energetic pattern twisting up across the whole surface of the painting. It is this play between turquoise blue and the dark, dynamic blue of the pattern which holds the viewer's attention. The chocolate pot and bottle create a tentative sense of space, but neither they nor the edge or opening in the right part of the painting can lessen the intense life of the colour surface of the canvas.