The Red Blouse by Henri Matisse (Postcard)


Currently on view in the Zoch Gallery


In The Red Blouse, a woman with light brown or blonde hair and
blue eyes sits in a black armchair. She wears a brown skirt and a
ruffled, boat-necked blouse painted with two colors of red and
touches of white. Her beaded necklace is yellow and brown. The
wide bracelet on her left arm is green and yellow; on her right is a
thin yellow and brown bangle.
Behind the chair is a mirror that reflects the back of the chair and the face of the artist with a green
beard, mauve glasses, and a bright pink shirt. Behind the head of the woman in the mirror are areas of
green, blue, and black-brown paint. On the left side of the painting, Matisse painted patches of almost
arbitrary color: a long red stripe and smaller areas of blue, yellow, and orange. In the lower left corner, he
scratched his signature and the date into the paint, a technique call sgraffito. Decorative detail is flat and
linear without the proliferation of pattern so often seen in his painting of this period.
The model was Lydia Delektorskaya, who became the artist’s model, assistant, and companion. Born in
Siberia, she lost her parents in the typhoid and cholera epidemics of the 1920s. She arrived in France as
a refugee, alone, not knowing a word of French. A young White Russian, Lydia modeled for Matisse in
1932 when he was revising the Barnes Foundation mural. In 1933, she served as a nurse and companion
for Madame Matisse; she remained with Matisse after his separation from Madame Matisse until his
death in 1954.