Henri Matisse, Luxe, calme et volupté, 1904
Matisse made this painting in the south of France, in the town of Saint-Tropez, while vacationing with family and friends. The forms in the painting—the figures, tree, bush, sea and sky—are created from spots of color, jabs of the brush that build up the picture. Matisse favored discrete strokes of color that emphasized the painted surface rather than a realistic scene. He also used a palette of pure, high-pitched primary colors (blue, green, yellow, and orange) to render the landscape, and then outlined the figures in blue. The painting takes its title, which means “Richness, calm, and pleasure,” from a line by the 19th-century poet Charles Baudelaire, and it shares the poems subject: escape to an imaginary, tranquil refuge.