Henri Matisse

Nude on a Yellow Sofa

The odalisque, or exotic nude, is a subject to which Matisse returned repeatedly throughout his life. This work belongs to a series that he painted between 1918 and 1928, during the winter months he spent in Nice. The composition of a reclining figure within a sumptuously decorated interior was recurrent in his oeuvre, and one can see that he retained elements from his Fauve past in his use of colour. He used patterned fabrics and screens to create a lively space within which to place his sensual models, achieving a harmonious balance between the flat, decorative elements and the voluminous figures. The treatment of the female form suggests mass and reflects Matisse's renewed interest in sculpture. Moreover, it indicates a move away from the abstraction of earlier periods, back to more conventional and realistic subjects.

– still in 1950
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

by 1956 – 1958/04/16
Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, USA

1958/04/16 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from the Pierre Matisse Gallery [1]

[1] The artwork can be seen hanging on M. and Mme. Matisse’s dining room wall of their 4th floor apartment, 1 place Charles-Felix, in Nice, France, on a photo, dated c. 1929 [Elderfield, John. "Henri Matisse. A Retrospective." New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1992, p. 296.] When the NGC in 1950 showed interest in acquiring the painting, Matisse responded that it would be an appropriate choice. Later he wrote the Gallery to say that he had changed his mind and wanted to keep the work because of its special significance for him. In 1958, it was offered by Pierre Matisse on behalf of Matisse’s estate [Buchnan Donald W. "Interview in Montparnasse." "Canadian Art." vol. 8, no. 2 (1950-51): 61-65] and accession log [NGC curatorial file].

Signed on l. l.: Henri Matisse 26

Nude on a Yellow Sofa
oil on canvas
55.1 x 80.8 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1958
Accession number