The Green Pumpkin
Henri Matisse, French, The Green Pumpkin, ca. 1916, Oil on canvas; 80 x 64.5 cm (31 1/2 x 25 3/8 inches), Anonymous gift 57.037
The view from Matisse’s window in the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux provides a backdrop for a green pumpkin on a red surface whose corner design suggests one of the textiles he was known to collect. Part still life, part landscape, the painting’s motifs oppose the geometry that balances the composition. Windows were among Matisse’s favorite subjects and served as the means to order foreground shapes while framing the image outside. Here he used firm, dark outlines to graph the window’s ledge and mullions and to emphasize the curved lines of the pumpkin’s form. Within these contained spaces, Matisse employed a palette of complementary autumnal hues and toned their brilliance with alternating bands of grey that suggest atmosphere and distance.