Room 13: Acanthuses and the sheaf

For all his boldness and confidence in the cut-out medium, Matisse’s process was still one of trial and revision. Conservation analysis has found more than a thousand tiny pin holes in the coloured shapes of Acanthuses, suggesting many stages of composition.

The Sheaf is a design for a ceramic panel that was finally accepted by the couple who commissioned it for their Los Angeles home. Matisse had already proposed several designs, including Large Decoration with Masks, but they rejected these.

He was undaunted by their response and embarked on alternative compositions with enthusiasm, reflecting the extraordinary creative energy of his final years.

Family activity

Look at the huge cut-outs in this room and then think back to the small works you saw earlier. Does size make you look differently? Try looking from close up and from a distance.

Download the full guide for families [PDF 535 Kb] and bring it with you on your visit to the exhibition, or you can pick up a copy at the exhibition entrance.