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The stuff of genius

Features | August Issue


Matisse filled his studio with objects to serve as props and inspiration. Tanya Harrod is thrilled to see them reunited with his paintings

A 1946 black and white photograph, taken by Hélène Adant, shows an array of vessels, but also a small sculpture and an octagonal Moorish table. Henri Matisse annotated the photograph on the reverse – ‘Objects that have been of use to me nearly all my life.’ They are grouped casually, as you can see in the photo (facing page), but it is easy to pick out prime objects, familiar from his paintings and drawings. There is a two-handled green glass vase, 17th-century blue and white Delftware, a lidded, fluted pewter jug, a silver jug, with a turned, wooden side handle, for making hot chocolate, and a celadon Qing dynasty vase with a flared base and top held together by a reassuring central knop. Adant’s photograph is central to Matisse in the Studio, a show that complements and develops the Royal Academy’s dazzling 2005 Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric...

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