Seated Odalisque, Left Knee Bent, Ornamental Background and Checkerboard

The relaxed demeanor of the Odalisque is captured in Matisse’s typical simplicity of form. An Odalisque is a woman who resides in a harem and was a popular trope in French art. The woman’s face is captured in a few swift strokes, but her energy is contained in the uptilt of the smile and the writing flow of her drapery. Patterns and textures fill the room with color, the curved forms of the back wall seem to mimic the curved figure of the woman, while the pink and red grid echoes the checkerboard placed at the woman’s feet. Matisse would have become familiar with these pattern in his travels to Morocco in 1912-13.

Original Medium: oil on canvas

Original Size: 21 5/8 x 14 7/8 in.

Date: 1928

Location: Baltimore Museum of Art