Matisse and His Blue Tablecloth

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has put together an exhibit showing Henri Matisse’s collection of textiles and how he used them to inspire his artwork.

This is the first exhibition to explore Henri Matisse’s (1869–1954) lifelong fascination with textiles and its profound impact on his art. "Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams—His Art and His Textiles" features forty-five painted works and thirty-one drawings and prints displayed alongside examples from Matisse’s personal collection of fabrics, costumes, and carpets. The exhibition marks the first public showing of Matisse’s textile collection—referred to by the artist as his "working library"—which has been packed away in family trunks since Matisse’s death in 1954.

The Guardian notes how often we see the textiles in Matisse’s paintings. Especially fun is seeing how often Matisse incorporated a blue tablecloth he acquired while he was still a young, unknown artist

The fabrics are
instantly identifiable in many paintings: a luscious length of French
silk woven with brilliant coloured posies of flowers which resurfaces
in Tangier as the table cloth in a still life Picasso bought;
elaborately embroidered African wall hangings that form the background
of the "odalisque" paintings of languid, exotically costumed women; and
a length of blue floral print which has been worn to rags in the
service of art. He
spotted the cream French cotton/linen table cloth, printed in pale and
indigo blue, as his bus passed a shop window in Paris. He leaped off to
buy it, and used it in a string of paintings over the next 30 years,
sometimes barely visible in the background, sometimes filling the
canvas.

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