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Henri Matisse, Portrait of Greta Moll

Key facts
Full title Portrait of Greta Moll
Artist Henri Matisse
Artist dates 1869 - 1954
Date made 1908
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 93 × 73.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1979
Inventory number NG6450
Location Room 41
Image copyright Succession Matisse / DACS
Collection Main Collection
Portrait of Greta Moll
Henri Matisse

Greta Moll was a sculptor who, along with her German husband Oskar Moll, was enrolled in Matisse’s art school, which he opened in 1908. She had previously been a student in Berlin where her portrait had been painted by the German artist Lovis Corinth. On being shown a photograph of that portrait, which he disliked, Matisse offered to paint his own portrait of her.

Despite the apparent simplicity and directness of his portrait, Greta had to pose for ten three-hour sessions before Matisse could complete it. He decided early on to use the blue and white patterned fabric as a background, and it became a favourite studio prop that appears in many of his paintings. Following the example of Georges Seurat, Matisse deliberately placed pure colours next to each other for maximum effect, but his final choice for Greta’s pose, particularly the position of her arms, was based upon paintings by Veronese and Ingres.

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