Étude pour 'Le Bonheur de vivre', executed in 1905, dates from the very pinnacle of Matisse's first experiments in Fauvism. The present work is a study for the monumental painting Le Bonheur de vivre, which was first exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants of 1906. It's huge scale and shocking colours faced mixed reviews among contemporary critics, but the Arcadian landscape, filled with a vibrant forest, meadow, sky and sea, populated by nude figures both at rest and in motion, is widely regarded as one of the pillars of early Modernism.
Inspired by the lush vegetation and intense light of the untouched landscape of the south of France, Matisse created a succession of pictures in which he honed his intensely vivid and energetic style. Étude pour 'Le Bonheur de vivre' provides a wonderful insight into Matisse's artistic approach. Abandoning the controlled pointillist style of Neo-Impressionism which had dominated his paintings in recent years, he employed dynamic and expressive brushstrokes, executed in an explosive palette of complimentary colours; the combination of yellow, purple, red, green, orange and blue translates the light and atmosphere of the landscape onto canvas.
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