Henri MatisseThe Snail 1953

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Artwork details

Henri Matisse (1869‑1954)
The Snail
Date 1953
MediumGouache on paper, cut and pasted on paper mounted on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 2864 x 2870 mm
Acquisition Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1962
On display at Tate Modern


After 1948 Matisse was prevented from painting by ill health but, although confined to bed, he produced a number of works known as gouaches découpées. These were made by cutting or tearing shapes from paper which had been painted with gouache. The shapes were placed and pasted down by an assistant working under Matisse's instruction. Some of the later ones, such as The Snail, were of very large dimensions. The technique, explored in his picture book Jazz (published 1947) and other works, opened up new possibilities for him. Matisse said of the technique that it 'allows me to draw in the colour. It is a simplification for me… (read more)

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