La blouse roumaine

Fragments of fabric, carpets, clothing : Henri Matisse has long
moved from one studio to another the pieces of decorated fabric that fascinated him.
The Romanian Blouse, an oil on canvas completed in April 1940, testifies to this obsession.

Henri Matisse, La Blouse roumaine (1940).
Centre Pompidou - Musée national d'art moderne - Centre de création industrielle
© Succession H. Matisse. Photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.
RMN-Grand Palais / Philippe Migeat


Early in 1936, Henri Matisse began his research and thus imagined multiple variations on the theme of Slavic costume. But it was not until October 1939 that he took the path that would lead to the final painting. A preparatory work largely documented by a series of photographs detailing the various stages of the realization of the work.

Eleven shots that allow us to better grasp the essence of his approach : the simplification of shapes, lines and colors through cutting. The objective : to give to see the absolute aesthetic synthesis of his subject. Reducing the features of the model to their simplest expression, Matisse places his pure curves at the center of attention while seeking the perfect agreement between the cut of the blouse and the geometric organization of its patterns.


This was the birth of a momentous work, which inspired other major designers.

In 1981, Yves Saint Laurent paid tribute to the Romanian blouse by revisiting the garment for one of his collections. Two years later, Eric Rohmer made the painting appear on the poster of his film Pauline at the Beach. Today, the famous silhouette lends its shapes to limited edition vases made for Maison Matisse by Alessandro Mendini for the 150th anniversary of the painter's birth.