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Woman in Blue
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Woman in Blue

Henri Matisse, French, 1869 - 1954

Made in France, Europe


Oil on canvas

36 1/2 x 29 inches (92.7 x 73.7 cm) Framed: 49 x 41 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches (124.5 x 106 x 10.8 cm)

© Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 267, Modern and Contemporary Art, second floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1956

Matisse kept a collection of textiles and costumes, drawing inspiration from their floral patterns and arabesques in organizing his compositions. In early 1936 he began a series of paintings depicting female models wearing costumes with dramatic patterns and vivid colors, and surrounded by bouquets, mirrors, and works of art. The dress of the Woman in Blue, fashioned by Lydia Delectorskaya, the painter’s assistant and principal model, at his request, has a ruffled bodice over blue taffeta, leg-of-mutton sleeves, and a matching skirt. Photographs taken over the painting’s three-month gestation show how Matisse began with a relatively naturalistic rendering possessing detail and a sense of depth, and gradually progressed to bold simplification and amplification of form. The painting’s grandeur resides in its decorative harmony: the billowing curves of the dress and sofa, the geometric patterning of the wall and floor, and the bold coloration in blue, red, and yellow.


Acquired from the artist by Paul Rosenberg, Paris, 1937; with Rosenberg & Helft, London, 1937; sold to Henry P. McIlhenny, Philadelphia, July 1937; gift to his sister, Bernice (Bonnie) M. McIlhenny Wintersteen (Mrs. John Wintersteen), (1903-1986) Villanova, PA, July 1937 [1]; gift to PMA, 1956. 1. When asked by McIlhenny to recommend one of Matisse's figure paintings to purchase, the artist suggested his "Woman in Blue". See Rishel, Henry P. McIlhenny Collection, 1987, p. 68, and also correspondence from Paul Rosenberg, 1937 to 1938, in Henry McIlhenny Archives, object files (copies in curatorial file). Rosenberg was Matisse's dealer in this period.

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