Henri Matisse
The Inattentive Reader 1919

Artwork details

Henri Matisse 1869–1954
The Inattentive Reader
La Liseuse distraite
Date 1919
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 730 x 924 mm
frame: 922 x 1110 x 90 mm
Acquisition Bequeathed by Montague Shearman through the Contemporary Art Society 1940
On display at Tate Liverpool
Exhibition: Matisse in Focus

Display caption

Matisse painted this work during an extended stay in a hotel in Nice in the south of France. Although the woman was probably a professional model, Matisse creates a sense of casual intimacy, and uses details in this anonymous setting to touch on serious themes. The distracted reader assumes the head-in-hand pose traditionally associated with melancholy, while the flowers and mirror are reminders of the transience of life.

March 2003

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