After 1917 Matisse no longer attempted to work out new and
"heroic" solutions for the problems of flat painting,
but relaxed into the arms of French tradition -- which meant
Chardin and Boucher as well as Manet and Delacroix.
Echoing things in the previous year's The Artist and his
Model (plate 20), though very different in mood, the picture
opposite was done, patently, in the same hotel room in Nice,
and the same pink-striped tablecloth and blue-figured flower
bowl again push back the seated figure. But the key is lower,
the paint heavier, and the modeling more explicit.
Since 1913 or so Matisse had been using flat blacks and grays
to set off bright colors; now soft earth browns, especially ocher,
begin to do this office, and his color is more conventional and
tempered. Here the tinted grays, the whites, and the tans on
one side of the canvas bring out the sharper colors on the other
side -- but the first side is where our eyes rest, and this contradiction
reinforces the mood.