Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Henri Matisse's "The Joy of Life"

Shortly after the 1905 Salon d'Automne at which he debuted "Woman in a Hat," featured in my most recent two posts, Matisse painted the large "Le Bonheur de Vivre" ("The Joy of Life") over the winter of 1905-1906. Rosa Arpino, an Italian woman who modelled for art schools in Paris, was the female model for all the female figures in the almost 6 feet by 8 feet painting.

"Le Bonheur de Vivre" was exhibited in April 1906 at the Salon d'Independants in Paris, and at the end of the exhibit on April 30, Leo Stein bought "Le Bonheur de Vivre." It's a beautiful painting, one I've seen many times at the Barnes Foundation in Merion PA. Although it hung in the living room of the Steins, it hangs above the landing of the staircase from the first to the second floor at the Barnes Foundation. It's interesting that there is a small circle of dancing women in "Le Bonheur de Vivre" and Matisse would produce "The Dancers" three years later in 1909 for Sergei Shchukin, the Moscow textile magnate, which was to hang in the staircase of his mansion. The second version of "The Dancers" now hangs above the staircase landing in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. What's with all these staircase paintings?

So the Steins had Matisse's "Woman in a Hat" and Matisse's "Le Bonheur de Vivre" on their walls. What fabulous paintings to have hanging in your home, although in that day they were considered scandalous.

You can view some of my 3-D paintings at

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