Henri Matisse

In 1941, while convalescing from a serious illness, Matisse devised a fresh approach to his interest in repeated motifs: a drawing series that he would publish in 1943 as Themes and Variations. Comprising 162 drawings organized into 17 groups, the series mostly depicts female figures reclining or relaxing in chairs. This example is characterized by the contrasts of charcoal and paper and of flatness and depth, as well as by its fluid, energetic line. Other studies in Themes and Variations use a much cleaner line to render their subject. As a whole, the series demonstrates the artist’s commitment to capturing a drawing’s essence through serial reworking.

Henri Matisse
French, 1869–1954
Woman Resting in an Interior, 1941
Charcoal, with stumping
Richard and Mary L. Gray, promised gift to the Morgan Library & Museum
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
© 2021 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Photography by Jamie Stukenberg, Professional Graphics Inc.