Katherine Rothkopf

The Seated Odalisque left knee bent is filled with so many textures and so many patterns. The figure is so beautifully painted. It’s really one of the most extraordinary Odalisques in our collection I think and one of the most beautiful ones he ever made. What I love so much is in really all of Matisse’s Odalisques, he has these French girls sort of dressing up in costume. And he was collecting these costumes from trips out of the country, and he was the one who is buying many of these things, whether it be the little purple jacket or the green pantaloons. And he would always say that his models were great partners in this, they would work together and find poses together and really try to make the most compelling and interesting combinations that they could. The way that her pantaloon sort of draped mirror a little bit of what’s going on with the curtain behind.

And I love those organic shapes combined with the more sort of regular and rhythmic shapes that we see on the flooring and in the wallpaper behind. And one of Matisse’s favorite models in the 1920s was a woman named Harriet, who had been a dancer and was also interested in painting and she worked for Matisse for quite a few years. And actually became great friends with his daughter, Marguerite, Harriet was a great partner for Matisse in coming up with these great poses. And you know, because of her training as a dancer she had great stamina. Matisse would make his models stand for very long periods of time so you really had to be quite strong to be able to serve as a model for him. The left knee bent with the checkerboard, in that painting, we get so much information in such a relatively small painting, it’s a wonderful thing. We have the still life of the lemons and some sort of a cup and a plate and then a checkerboard.

And here, this one may feel somewhat more authentic than what it may be to be in a harem in his mind, because he has taken out all the furniture. She is sitting I guess on the floor or something very low, that we can quite see. There aren’t so many visual clues that link her back to modern time and she is a modern day women of 1928 in Nice. And I think the other two, the nude reflecting in the mirror and left leg bent may make it feel a little bit more like they are in a set.

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