Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chapter 12: Henri Matisse #2

When Cats Discover Matisse Goldfish


Deborah’s most popular contribution from Famous Artists’ Cats, at least on Pinterest, is Pierre Matisse’s Goldfish (with Cats). Hardly a day goes by when one or more pinners don’t like and repin it somewhere.

Matisse Goldfish (with Cats) / © Deborah Julian
Inspired by Matisse’s Interior with Goldfish (Les poissons rouges), it’s intense blue is accented only a little by the goldfish, which are, as you can see, actually red.

Matisse loved painting red goldfish. He did it often. Sometimes, they were the main focus of the picture. Others, like Interior with Goldfish, they accent. With Matisse, it’s a special place of honor to accent blue. 

By the way, even if you don’t know the least bit of French, you might have noticed the Les poissons rouges doesn’t appear to have any “interior” in it. The full title is a concession that distinguishes this 1914 painting from a 1912 painting with, otherwise, exactly the same title. Matisse liked painting red goldfish so much, he ran out of titles for them.

For the record, some add the word “bowl” to this painting, but that seems unnecessary. This isn’t a nature painting. Where else would they be?

The interior is from Matisse’s quarters in Paris. He had a view to die for. That’s the Seine flowing a complimentary blue in the Parisian background where you can see drays crossing. 

When Deborah opened the window to let Billy and Sam inside, she added the enticement of extra fish. There is nothing on record to indicate Matisse’s reaction to two more adult red goldfish showing up in his bowl.

True to the nature of black cats, Billy studies the goldfish bowl intensely. Sam, unable to control himself with the same rigor, climbs onto nearby furniture for a closer look. 


Sam’s magnified visage seems not to disturb the fish at all. They are apparently aware that glass and water are impregnable barriers for most cats.