The Black Shawl
Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)
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.


  • Artist Name: Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)
  • Title: The Black Shawl
  • Date: 1917
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 26-1/2 x 50-3/4 in. (67.3 x 128.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
  • Accession Number: M.1982.3.P
  • Copyright: © 2017 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

Object Information

[Lucien Demotte, Paris and New York, by 1931, still in 1934].
Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., New York, by 1940, still in 1951, sold to;
[Stephen Hahn Gallery, New York, sold August 1968 to];
Norton Simon (sale, New York, Christie’s, 21 October 1980, lot 202, ill., as Lorette VII L’ Écharpe noire, bought-in);
Norton Simon, gift 1982 to;
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

Henri Matisse. Exposition organisée au profit de l'Orphelinat des Arts

  • Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, 1931-06-16 to 1931-07-25
  • Formes,
  • Cahiers d'Art,nos. 5-6 pp. 77, 298
  • Flam, Jack, et al., Matisse in Transition: Around Laurette,2006, Figure 17 p. 21
  • Barnes, Albert and V. de Mazia, The Art of Henri Matisse,no. 82 p. 439
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best,2010, cat. 522 p. 308
  • Oberlin Bulletin,no. 60
  • Barr, Alfred H. Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public,no. 152a pp. 191, 542, 572
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum,1989, p. 176
  • Cowart, J. and D. Fourcade, Henri Matisse, the Early Years in Nice, 1916-1930,p. 61, pl. 3; p. 236, fig. 3 pp. 61, 236
  • L'Art Vivant,
  • Dauberville, Guy-Patrice; and Michel Dauberville, Matisse: Henri Matisse chez Bernheim-Jeune, pp. 216, 266
  • Art News, p. 8
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