Exploring the private universe of Henri Matisse in The Red Studio
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The exhibition Matisse: The Red Studio allowed for an in-depth study of The Red Studio (1911) and six of the works featured in the painting by Henri Matisse (1869–1954) of his studio in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris. The grouping includes three paintings from the collection of the Statens Museum for Kunst (Le Luxe II, 1907, Nude with White Scarf, c. 1909, and Bathers, c. 1909), one painting from the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Young Sailor II, 1906), a painting from a private collection (Cyclamen, c. 1911), and a glazed and hand-painted earthenware plate from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (Untitled (Female Nude), 1907). The six paintings were investigated using technical (X-radiography, ultraviolet-induced fluorescence, infrared reflectography) and chemical imaging (MA-XRF) and, in some cases, spectroscopic techniques (FORS, SEM–EDS, Raman, SERS, and μ-FTIR), to better elucidate Matisse’s materials and working techniques for this selection of paintings; the plate was also analyzed using MA-XRF. New findings revealed the full extent to which Matisse had completed The Red Studio before applying its hallmark color, referred to as Venetian red in his correspondence, over the original palette of blue, pink, and ochre that dominated the composition. Particular attention was given to identifying the wide range of pigment choices made by Matisse in the execution of the works from 1906 and 1911 that are depicted in The Red Studio. These pigments include lead white, zinc white, bone black, earth reds, madder lake, carmine lake, vermilion, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, aureolin (cobalt) yellow, orpiment, viridian green, chromium-oxide green, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, Prussian blue, cobalt violet (deep and light), and other cobalt violets, as well as possibly manganese violet and eosin red lake. The results of these analyses allowed for a direct comparison between the original works and their depictions and revealed that Matisse, unsurprisingly given his strong association with color, often translated the pigment choices faithfully between the actual works and their depictions in The Red Studio.