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The Black Shawl (Lorette VII), 1918

Henri Matisse

French, 1869-1954
Oil on canvas
26-1/2 x 50-3/4 in. (67.3 x 128.9 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

On view

Matisse hired an Italian model known as Lorette or Laurette to pose for him in late 1916. Over the course of the next year, he painted her almost fifty times: standing, sitting, lying down; clothed, nude, or—as here—somewhere in between. Wrapped in a black lace mantilla, the model’s body is at once revealed and concealed. Her direct but sightless gaze lends the encounter a peculiar erotic charge. The painter’s obsession with Lorette coincided with a transformation in his style, a shift from the abstract approach of his youth to the more concrete and harmonious manner of his maturity. Like many paintings of its model, The Black Shawl perches uneasily between the avant-garde provocations of early Matisse and the sensuous forms of late.

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