Woman seated, Matisse

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Henri Matisse, Woman seated in an armchair wearing a taffetta dress, 1938. Charcoal.

Her long, swooping dress takes up the entire bottom half of the picture. And as she sits leaning to one side, a ruffle cuts across her waist and her dress swings to the right as if the wind were blowing it that way. Lighter charcoal strokes outline where her leg rests underneath the fabric. She sits propping up her face with her left hand as that elbow rests on the chair, making her face tilt. Her features are pleasant and simple, she’s in no rush for whoever she’s waiting for. She looks like she’d be sighing instead of talking. Not a dramatic, exhausted sigh, just the pleasant high pitched one girls make when they see something pretty. Her right arm matches the contour of her dress and the imperfect hand holds the arm of the chair. Her sleeves are big and pouffy but the neckline of the dress is a simple V, with her right breast heavily outlined while her left rests on the large arm of the chair. Her hair starts where her ears would be if she had any, and it looks like a cloud a kindergardener would draw on a landscape- just a continuous squiggle cut off by her face and continuing on the other side. The crisscross pattern of the arm chair can be seen behind her, but only on her right side because she’s leaning, waiting patiently.

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