Selected by Jonathan Dodd

HENRI MATISSE, Corbeille d’ananas et fruit, 1926


Late in life Matisse recalled: “For several years I thought that I would paint only still lifes. It was after having depicted still-life objects that I was able to depict the human figure.” While he is of course most famous for his depictions of the female form, Matisse returned repeatedly to paint and draw still life arrangements. 


Matisse in his studio, circa 1926.


His concern with what he himself called “the marriages of objects” was one shared with generations of still life painters: the bringing together of objects – in this case lemons and bananas with a tureen and a water glass – and finding in their relationships contrasts of lines, curved and straight, of brightness and dullness, of softness and hardness. The composition of our drawing, like many others, however owes much specifically to Paul Cézanne. Matisse wrote “In modern art, it is indisputably to Cézanne that I owe the most”, and he would refer to him as the “father of us all”. In Pierre Schneider’s monograph on Matisse, where this drawing is illustrated, it is entitled ‘Corner of a Table’ (rather than the more usually accepted ‘Corbeille d’ananas et fruit’) which draws attention to the precariousness of the objects teetering at the edge of the tilted tabletop, as the lid of the tureen breaks through the top of the picture.


Matisse working in his studio.


In Matisse’s ink drawings he sought a purity in the line, in the absolutely immutable nature of the black line on stark white paper. With charcoal he could work and re-work, erase or smudge, blur or heighten, and with the multiplicity of lines he could achieve a heightened sense of movement and volume. One senses not the results of indecision, still less pentimenti in the sense of revisions and corrections, but the artist gradually building up the forms to his satisfaction. 


Matisse was one of the greatest and most original draughtsmen of the 20th century, and today he remains one of the most consistently revered and influential artists.


HENRI MATISSE  (French 1869-1954)

Corbeille d’ananas et fruit, 1926

Signed and dated lower right 

Charcoal and estompe on paper

19 x 25 in / 48 x 62.5 cm


This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Wanda de Guébriant dated 27/7/2002 and is recorded under No. W 117 in the archives of the artist.


Pierre Matisse, thence by descent

Private collection, New York (circa 1985)

Waterhouse & Dodd, London

Private collection, UK (acquired from the above in 2009)



Pierre Schneider, ‘Matisse’, London, 1984, illustrated p. 38

June 1, 2021