Still Life: Bouquet and Compotier


Henri Matisse ( French, 1869 - 1954 )

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General Description

Beginning in the early 20th century, Henri Matisse began making floral still lifes, an interest he maintained for the rest of his life. In the central foreground of this painting, a gold-rimmed white fruit dish, or compotier, is the one object that has clearly defined volume and contour. Behind the compotier, Matisse juxtaposed a bouquet of loosely rendered flowers against the vertical backdrop of a folding screen painted with a floral motif. In his placement of the vase of flowers in front of a flat, floral surface, Matisse challenged viewers to consider which flowers are painted and which are real. He also played with the depiction of space. The depth of the room is suggested through overlapping forms—the table, screen, doorway, and framed artwork—rather than traditional linear perspective, in which the apparent size of an object shrinks as it recedes into space.

Excerpt from

Nicole R. Myers, DMA label copy, 2018.

Web Resources

  • YouTube
    Learn more about the artist in 60 seconds in this video from the Royal Academy of Arts.

  • Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
    Read this spotlight essay on a still life by Matisse from the Kemper Art Museum.

  • YouTube
    Check out this animated video from "Art with Mati and Dada" that provides a great way to introduce children to Matisse.