Henri Matisse - Nymph and Satyr 1909

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Nymph and Satyr 1909

Nymph and Satyr 1909
89x117cm oil/canvas
State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia

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From the State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia:
Like A Game of Bowls, painted a year earlier in 1908, this work belongs to Matisse's series of works devoted to man's "golden age". Once again the artist chooses to depict naked bodies against a background setting, but the mood is different. The hills rise softly up towards the sky, the pure earth is quiet, the aquamarine of the water is calming. And into this world of gentle greenish-blue tones Matisse introduces two sharp colour accents, pink in the nymph's body and red for the satyr. The outlines of their bodies are extremely simplified and precise, concentrating the passion of the chase, the satyr's desire to possess, as the helpless nymph stumbles and becomes fated to be his victim. Such open eroticism is unusual for the artist. The theme calls up associations with the ancient myths of Apollo and Daphne, Pan and Syrinx, incorporating the eternal conflict of the two sexes, passion and escape.