Tea is the largest painting executed by Henri Matisse in the years just after World War I. It marks a notable departure from the artist's Fauve work, in which he sought to transform his feelings into pure color. This garden scene depicts Matisse's model Antoinette Arnoud, his daughter Marguerite, and his dog Lili relaxing at the artist's residence in the Parisian suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux. Although Matisse's use of sunlight evokes the Impressionists' attraction to painting directly from nature, he focused more on communicating the cool lushness of the scene through adherence to local color. The masklike face of Marguerite, on the right, reflects the artist's long-standing interest in African art and contrasts sharply with the more conventionally rendered face of Antoinette. In this sense, Tea is a logical extension of Matisse's formative work Heads of Jeannette (1910-13), also in the museum's collection, in which he progressively abstracted the female visage in a sequence of five bronze sculptures. In 1929 British art critic Roger Fry remarked that he found this painting to be "one of the most complete expressions of Matisse's highest powers." Tea was the last major Matisse painting acquired by Michael and Sarah Stein, brother and sister-in-law of Gertrude Stein and notable collectors in their own right.More...
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