John Mcewen com­ments on Land­scape Viewed From a Win­dow

Country Life Every Week - - My Favourite Painting -

For Matisse, mar­riage proved a cor­ner­stone. ‘I love you dearly, made­moi­selle,’ he told Amélie Parayre, ‘but I shall al­ways love paint­ing more.’ Amélie was un­fazed; she yearned for a cause. ‘I didn’t know much about what he was do­ing,’ she re­called, ‘but I knew what­ever he did could only be good.’

They were mar­ried in Jan­uary 1898 and hon­ey­mooned in Lon­don so he could see Turn­ers: ‘What in­can­des­cence! What daz­zle­ment! What jewels!’ He later vowed: ‘The painter of the fu­ture will be such a colourist as has never yet been seen.’ Turner was one in­spi­ra­tion, the warm south another. Van Gogh had blazed a trail; Matisse, another north­erner, fol­lowed. Amélie’s loy­alty was com­pounded by the in­spi­ra­tional sup­port of a rus­sian oli­garch, Sergei Shchukin. In 1908, when Matisse’s colour ex­plo­rations were be­com­ing un­sellable, Shchukin, a born col­lec­tor, ar­rived in Paris and bought him out.

By 1911, when Matisse vis­ited Moscow, Shchukin had opened the col­lec­tion that adorned his palace to the pub­lic—ves­tiges of its dra­matic in­flu­ence on young rus­sian artists can be seen in ‘rev­o­lu­tion’, the royal Academy’s rus­sian show (un­til April 17). Shchukin got Matisse to hang the palace’s Pink Draw­ing room as a Matis­sean iconos­ta­sis, a ‘beau­ti­ful hot­house of or­chids’.

The fol­low­ing year, Matisse took the well­trod painters’ path to Morocco. He was also com­mis­sioned by another rus­sian oli­garch, Ivan Moro­zov, a com­mer­cial col­lec­tor, to paint three ‘land­scapes’, the so-called ‘Moroc­can Trip­tych’. This view was one of them; The Cas­bah Gate (fea­tured as Lach­lan Goudie’s favourite paint­ing on March 30, 2016) another. In his Notes of a Painter (1908), Matisse wrote that his aim was to find a sub­ject’s ‘essence’ in or­der to pro­duce ‘an art of bal­ance, pu­rity and seren­ity’.

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