Woman with a Hat
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A critic wrote that this painting of Henri Matisse's wife Amelie was like "a pot of paint flung in the face of the public."

And as if that wasn't rude enough, he threw salt in the wound saying that Matisse and his buddies were a bunch of talentless hacks! No better than "wild beasts" (or fauves in French.) Both the comments and the painting caught people’s attention, and before you could say "sacrebleu!" Matisse became the head of the Fauvist painting movement, named after his "wild and beastly" paintings.

In a further stroke of luck, Gertrude and Leo Stein noticed that Matisse’s morale was low due to the poor reception of his work, and they decided to help out by buying some of his paintings. Gertrude Stein was played by Kathy Bates in Woody Allen’s 2011 film “Midnight in Paris.” In reality, Leo didn't actually care for the work, and was quoted as saying that the painting was "the nastiest smear of paint I had ever seen." Folks were harsh back then!

When asked what his wife was wearing when he painted this work, Matisse said, "black". Quite an imagination on that guy. Do you think he dreamt up that fabulous hat, too? The colorful work is one of the most popular paintings currently living in the SFMOMA collection.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Woman with a Hat

Woman with a Hat (French: La femme au chapeau) is a painting by Henri Matisse. An oil on canvas, it depicts Matisse's wife, Amelie. It was painted in 1905 and exhibited at the Salon d'Automne during the fall of the same year, along with works by André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and several other artists known as "Fauves".

Critic Louis Vauxcelles, in comparing the paintings of Matisse and his associates with a Renaissance-type sculpture that shared the room with them, used with the phrase "Donatello chez les fauves..." (Donatello among the wild beasts). His comment was printed on 17 October 1905 in Gil Blas, a daily newspaper, and passed into popular usage.Woman with a Hat was at the center of the controversy that led to the term Fauvism. It was also a painting that marked a stylistic shift in the work of Matisse from the Divisionist brushstrokes of his earlier work to a more expressive style. Its loose brushwork and "unfinished" quality shocking viewers as much as its vivid, non-naturalistic colors.

Although the Fauve works on display were condemned by many—"A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public", declared the critic Camille Mauclair—they also gained some favorable attention. The painting that was singled out for attacks was Matisse's Woman with a Hat, which was bought by Gertrude and Leo Stein for 500 francs: this had a very positive effect on Matisse's morale, which had suffered with the bad reception of his work.

Sarah Stein, the wife of Gertrude and Leo's elder brother Michael, claimed to have been the original purchaser of this painting, not Gertrude (Leo did not like the painting at first). One can see it in photographs of Sarah and Michael's home on Rue Madame. It was a centerpiece in Sarah's home in Palo Alto, California for many years. During the 1950s, in San Francisco, it was bought by the Haas family. In 1990 Elise S. Haas bequeathed thirty-seven paintings, sculptures and works on paper to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among them Femme au chapeau.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Woman with a Hat.

Comments (1)


I like this painting because it has a lot of colors. There are a lot of pieces to this painting that can be looked at.