Matisse in Morocco

Henri and Amelia Matisse in Morocco, 1912

Described by art historian James Cowart as Henri Matisse’s “most outward-looking voyage,” the artist’s travels to Morocco in 1912 and 1913 provided him with critical source material that would inspire works for years to come. Just 35 of the sketches made during these sojourns are known today, and, generally speaking, very few of Matisse’s sketchbooks are thought to exist at all. Matisse drew Deux vues de Tanger on the second of his two visits to North Africa, rendering the dome of a ribāṭ Muslim monastery in the drawing’s foreground and a harbor with steamships in the background. Compositionally the work’s style evidences the influence of Fauvist painter Albert Marquet, a friend to Matisse. As with the entire family of Moroccan sketches, Deux vues showcases Matisse’s uncanny skill as an observer and draftsman who used pen and paper as “both a still camera and a movie camera.” The result is an intimate and rare glimpse at Matisse’s working process, an historic document, travelogue, and artwork combined on a single page.