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A painting of a pot of red geraniums with whitish centers in a blue and white pot.

The painting of pot red geraniums with whitish centers in a blue and white pot, placed on a white plate with a blue and black fruit and flower design which is placed slightly off-center. The plate sits on a brown surface in front of a wall. The wall has three pink tendrils snaking up it, branching off the tendrils are flowers in purple and black. A fallen geranium blossom is down left of the plate on the table.

Gallery Text

Potted red geraniums appear frequently in Matisse’s paintings from the first decade of the twentieth century. This scene plays with the concept of mimetic representation by juxtaposing real flowers with printed ones in the wallpaper behind, and painted ones in the plate under the pot. Matisse further complicates his proposition by including four dark-blue petals in the foreground, which appear to be from an entirely different plant. He also destabilizes the entire scene by rendering the sloping foreground as flatly as the wallpapered wall. Just as he had done in the other still life hanging nearby, Matisse changed the main colors of the background as he worked. Initially, the top half of the composition was predominantly pink and the bottom was green, but after exploring other combinations, Matisse, a master colorist, repainted them in blue and ochre.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
Henri Matisse, French (Cateau-Cambresis, France 1869 - 1954 Nice, France)
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1220, European Art, 19th–20th century, Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
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Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
61.4 x 50.4 cm (24 3/16 x 19 13/16 in.)
framed: 79.4 x 68.4 x 7 cm (31 1/4 x 26 15/16 x 2 3/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l. r.: Henri Matisse
  • stamp: verso, two identical, round export stamps in brown ink, one on the canvas and one on the stretcher: DOUANES / PARIS / EXPOSITION
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, graphite: [illegible grouping of numbers]
  • label: verso, stretcher, blue border label with handwriting in brown ink: 53
  • label: verso, stretcher, label with decorative blue border, mostly torn-off : [illegible]
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, graphite: pot de Geraniums / BJ
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, blue chalk: B.J.
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, graphite: 134
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, white chalk: [illegible, inscription mostly gone]
  • stamp: verso, center stretcher, black ink: VALENTINE GALLERY / 16 East 57th Street / New York
  • inscription: verso, center stretcher, blue chalk, crayon or colored pencil: [illegible]
  • inscription: verso, stretcher, blue chalk or crayon: [two words, illegible]


Recorded Ownership History
Private Collector, Paris, Said to have been bought directly from artist, 1918.
Maurice Wertheim, Purchased from the Valentine Gallery, 1937, Bequest to Fogg Art Museum, 1951.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest from the Collection of Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906
© Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art


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Publication History

  • Twenty Paintings by Henri Matisse, exh. cat., Valentine Gallery (New York, NY, 1936), no. 7
  • "Outstanding Modern Painters in Decoration", Arts & Decoration (January 1937), vol. XLV, pp. 16-17, repr., p. 17
  • Alfred M. Frankfurter, "Today's Collectors: Modern Milestones", Art News (June 1946), vol. XLV, no. 4, p. 64
  • French Painting since 1870, lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1946), p. 54, repr. p. 55
  • La Peinture Française Depuis 1870: Collection Maurice Wertheim, exh. cat., Tom Taylor (Québec, Canada, 1949), p. 65; repr. p. 66
  • "Notes About Art", The New York Times, International edition (July 29, 1951), repr.
  • Howard Devree, "By French Masters: The Metropolitan Shows Wertheim Collection", The New York Times (New York, NY, July 6 1952), p. 6, p. 6, repr.
  • The Maurice Wertheim Catalogue: Modern French Art-- Monet to Picasso, exh. cat., North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh, NC, 1960), p. 24, repr. p. 25
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1962), p. 28, pl. 9
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, exh. cat., Maine State Museum (Augusta, ME, 1972), no. 14, repr.
  • Vivien Raynor, "Art: Impressionist Show at the I.B.M. Gallery" [review], The New York Times (New York, NY, April 26, 1985), p. C24, repr.
  • John O'Brian, Degas to Matisse: the Maurice Wertheim Collection, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. and Fogg Art Museum (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, 1988), no. 28, pp. 117-119, 158; repr. in color p. 118
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1990), repr. in color no. 38, p. 107
  • Gabriel Dunn, "Experimental and Innovative: Matisse Paintings from the Wertheim Collection" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2012), Unpublished, pp. 1-50 passim
  • Elizabeth M. Rudy, "Researching the Wertheim Collection at the Harvard Art Museums", Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals (Summer 2014), Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 301-6

Exhibition History

  • French Painting since 1870 lent by Maurice Wertheim, Class of 1906, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 06/01/1946 - 09/07/1946; National Gallery of Art, Washington, 07/01/1953 - 09/13/1953
  • La Peinture Française depuis 1870, Musée de la Province de Quebec, 07/12/1949 - 08/07/1949
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 07/01/1952 - 09/14/1952
  • French Paintings Since 1870 from the Maurice Wertheim Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/01/1953 - 09/30/1953
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, 06/15/1957 - 09/15/1957
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 06/10/1958 - 08/31/1958
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Modern French Art--Monet to Picasso, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 06/17/1960 - 09/04/1960
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection: Manet to Picasso, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Houston, 06/13/1962 - 09/02/1962
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, 06/20/1963 - 09/01/1963
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, 06/24/1965 - 09/07/1965
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, 09/03/1968 - 09/22/1968
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Montgomery Museum of Art, Montgomery, 06/01/1971 - 09/30/1971
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection, Maine State Museum, Augusta, 06/01/1972 - 09/01/1972
  • Manet to Matisse: The Maurice Wertheim Collection, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, New York, 04/09/1985 - 05/25/1985
  • The Maurice Wertheim Collection and Selected Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Paintings and Drawings in the Fogg Art Museum, Isetan Department Store, Tokyo, 03/01/1990 - 04/10/1990; Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum of Art, 04/14/1990 - 05/13/1990
  • Re-View: S427 Impressionist & Postimpressionist Art, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 08/02/2008 - 06/18/2011
  • 32Q: 1220 Wertheim, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

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