Matisse's Painting – Purple Robe and Anemones

Henri Matisse's painting Purple Robe and Anemones, from 1937, hangs in the Baltimore Museum of Art. This painting depicts his model Lydia Delectorskaya in a purple robe with a vase of anemones in the foreground. Matisse did not intend to capture his subject realistically. Instead, the painting explodes with color, rhythm, space, and line and dares to manipulate reality.
In Purple Robe and Anemones, Matisse manipulates line to create harmony throughout the painting. The black serpentine lines on the vase echo the serpentine shape of the robe on the model as well as the white lines on the back wall. The patterns he creates with lines on the table that holds the vase echoes the pattern on the model's skirt. Lines here are used to describe different degrees of form, giving the vase a 3 dimensional form, but flattening other objects such as the model herself. The bold lines define the objects yet give the model a flat form with no variation in line. All the lines are very clear, and not blurred giving a static feel to the painting. They do not vary greatly to create an illusion of depth; rather they have a boldness one would not expect. Matisse's use of line imbues a sense of calmness to the work.
In addition to Matisse's use of lines to create visual echos, Matisse uses vivid color to create contrast as well as areas of abstract color. Bright bursts of color explode out of the flowers, vibrant reds, purples, and white petals splash in the center, which are repeated throughout the painting. The reds from the lines in the wall visually connect diagonally to the red flowers then to the red patterned couch behind the model. This echo is repeated with the purple from the robe to the purple flowers, as well as with the teal color of the table, and the skirt of the model. To intensify his colors further, Matisse places complementary colors next to each other, Matisse intensifies the purple robe, by painting the yellow stri…


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