Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Le Luxe II, 1907-08
With its subject matter – three naked women in a landscape – and the title Le Luxe the work inscribes itself into a long-standing tradition for depicting bathing women in a natural setting.
The motif is a traditional image of untainted happiness in a mythical, paradisiacal Arcadia.
Two versions of the same motif
Matisse was among the first of his generation to address the theme again, employing it in a new fashion. He created two versions of this motif on the exact same scale: Le Luxe I (Centre Pompidou, Paris) painted using oils and loose, dry brushstrokes, and Le Luxe II painted using distemper and large, uniformly coloured planes. Thus, he tested different modes of expression for the panting.
Reinterpretations of a classic motif
Artists such as Derain and Picasso also reinterpreted the classic motif of bathing women, creating much outrage at official Parisian exhibitions.