A Glimpse of Notre Dame in the Late Afternoon depicts a view from a window in the apartment and studio where Henri Matisse lived and worked from 1899 until 1907. Matisse returned to this motif many times throughout his career, painting it from the same vantage point but in varying stylistic modes. In this work, he rendered all the compositional elements in the same loose brushwork and color scheme. Here, he unifies a bridge over the River Seine, the east façade of Notre Dame Cathedral, an interior wall, and the edge of the open window shutter. The application of color in block-like strokes and the absence of detail or surface texture in this work resemble that found in the later canvases of Paul Cézanne, like Morning in Provence, also in the Albright-Knox’s collection. Matisse executed his earlier paintings of this subject in a more Impressionist style, using a representational palette. Throughout this composition, however, he marshaled somber shades of blue, pink, green, and purple. In 1905, this unconventional use of color and bold brushwork, shared by Matisse and his contemporaries André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, led to the development of Fauvism.
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