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Still Life with Geranium

Still life of geranium plant, fruit, water pitcher, and two cats.
© 2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • Still life of geranium plant, fruit, water pitcher, and two cats.




Henri Matisse
French, 1869–1954

About this artwork

Like his artistic hero, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse merged the traditional and the avant-garde. In Still Life with Geranium, he transformed a simple still life into a populated Arcadian landscape painting, rendered in the brilliant color, thick paint, and rapid brushwork characteristic of the group of painters known as the Fauves (French for “wild beasts”). Matisse was recognized by critics as the leader of this group.

This composition is one of contrasts—the pale palette and light brushwork in the upper half of the picture are juxtaposed with the darker colored, heavily painted lower half; the firmly planted pose of the female figure is contraposed with the almost-fleeing figure of the male; and the red vegetables grown near Paris are set near ceramic objects from exotic, faraway places. One of many still-life paintings in which Matisse incorporated his own figurative sculptures, here the artist challenged his viewers’ expectations by rendering his modeled figures with minimal color and simple lines. Probably represented as plaster casts, these figures would later be made in bronze editions by the artist; versions of Woman Leaning on Her Hands (on the right of the geranium) and Thorn Extractor (on the left) are also in the collection of the Art Institute.


On loan to Museum of Fine Arts, Houston in Houston for Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism


Modern Art


Henri Matisse


Still Life with Geranium


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


Signed lower left: Henri-Matisse


100.3 × 81.5 cm (39 1/2 × 32 1/8 in.)

Credit Line

Joseph Winterbotham Collection

Reference Number



© 2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Extended information about this artwork

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