Matisse, Henri (1869-1954)

Red Room (Harmony in Red)

France, 1908

© Succession H. Matisse
In his Paris studio with its windows looking out over a monastery garden, in 1908 Matisse created one of his most important works of the period 1908-1913: "The Red Room". The artist himself called this a "decorative panel" and it was intended for the dining room in the Moscow mansion of the famous Russian collector Sergey Shchukin. Matisse turned to a motif common in the works created that year: a room decorated with vases, fruits and flowers. Yet, as he wrote in 1908, "the basis of my thinking has not changed, but the very thinking has evolved and my means of expression have followed on." The luxuriant raspberry red fabric with its energetic twists of blue pattern seems to sink down from the wall, taking over the surface of the table and uniting it in a single whole, swallowing up the three-dimensional space of the room and masterfully confirming the decorative potential of the canvas surface. Matisse first made such uncompromising use of this compositional device here, in "The Red Room". But in affirming the flatness of the red colour, the artist managed to create within it the impression of space, space within which the female figure bending over the vase could move and within which the sharp angled view of the chair seemed natural. The window, through which we see a green garden with flowering plants, allows the eye to move into the depths of the canvas.


Red Room (Harmony in Red)




oil on canvas


180,5x221 cm

Acquisition date:

Entered the Hermitage in 1948; handed over from the State Museum of New Western Art in Moscow; originally in the Sergei Shchukin collection

Inventory Number:




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