Woman Reading (1894) by Henri Matisse

Day #154 of 365 Days of Art 
This piece was one of Henri Matisse's breakthrough pieces that helped him warm up to the critics. One of the things that stood out to me with this painting was how small this room feels.  Makes me grateful for some of the larger spaces many of us take for granted today.

I love the mood evoked - isn't it a gift in life to sit and quietly read? At times it can be - and so make sure to MAKE time in your life for some quiet reading.

Also, the items in the room whisper of a rich life. The quote below notes that the room is untidy, but I catch another vibe.  Rather than untidy, we are seeing a room "in use" - the door to the cabinet is slightly ajar and the art piece (wrapped maybe?) sits jolting out to the woman's left.  And the dresser is cluttered, but organized. The two paintings on the wall give us rectangles that are balanced by the art piece lower left  - and the shapes made from the chair back. The outline of the woman's body has a nice feel with the wavy lines from the coat rack and lamp with green shade.

This painting (to me) seems to capture a beautiful quiet moment that whispers a lot about the reader. Her conservative hairstyle and clothing give more clues.

Here is a snippet about Woman Reading from Total History (more here):

"The painting shows a calm and tranquil scene: a woman, shown with her back to the viewer, sits in a chair reading a book. Matisse wanted to emphasize the similarity between the type of room depicted and an artist’s studio like his own. To accomplish this, he gave the room strong hints of an artistic use, with several paintings hanging on the wall. There is a strong sense that reading can transport a reader into another world: the woman’s room is rather untidy, but she is so engrossed in her book that she does not notice this."