Monet and Matisse: Visions of the Ideal

Apr. 23(Thu), 2020 - Nov. 3(Tue), 2020

In a social environment characterized by rapid modernization and the repeated wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there emerged in literature and art a yearning for “somewhere away from here.” In particular, the artists Claude Monet (1840–1926) and Henri Matisse (1869–1954) both created their own private worlds, or “artificial paradises,” at their residences: the one by designing and building a garden, the other by personally arranging a distinctive indoor space. In this respect they have a deep affinity.
In the late nineteenth century, Monet left the modernizing city of Paris for the rural town of Giverny, his last abode. At his Giverny property, he laid out a garden, including a pond, and in this ideal setting spent day after day producing a series of works depicting water lilies. Similarly, Matisse, having settled down in the South of France, painted and decorated his room in a manner suggestive of a theater stage, freely matching textiles and furniture. The motif of the interior and the light of southern France adorned the painter’s studio as well as his compositions.
Monet’s garden and Matisse’s interior served, at the same time, both as important subjects for their paintings and places and environments in which to live and work. This exhibition investigates how the two artists created their “artificial paradises” and sublimated them into their art.


Claude Monet, Water Lily Pond, 1899, Pola Museum of Art


Henri Matisse, Odalisque on a Turkish Chair, 1928, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
© Musée d’Art Moderne/Roger-Viollet

Claude Monet


Claude Monet, Haystacks at Giverny, 1884
Pola Museum of Art


Claude Monet, The Pink Skiff, 1890
Pola Museum of Art


Claude Monet, The Rowing Boat, 1887, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France/Bridgeman Imgaes


Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1907, Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole
© Yves Bresson / Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne Métropole


Claude Monet, Wisteria, 1919-1920, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris
© Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, France/Bridgeman Imgaes

Henri Matisse


Henri Matisse, Interior with a Violin Case
1918-1919, oil on canvas, 73.0×60.0cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Lillie P. Bliss Collection, 1934
© 2019, Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence


Henri Matisse, Blue Dress Before a Mirror, 1937
The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto


Henri Matisse, The Lute, 1943, Pola Museum of Art