A lovely tipped in art print of Henri Matisse's The Invalid (La Malade) (1899) printed in Japan in 1976. Image is hand tipped in on heavy paper and affixed to chipboard backing for ease in styling, propping, or framing.

Image: 8" x 10"

Commentary at time of printing: “Painted at the end of Matisse's year-long stay in the south, first in Corsica and then later on in Toulouse, The Invalid is one of his most ambitious and successful interiors of this period. In spite of its small format and sketchlike ap-pearance, its command of a wide range of bright colors, while still somewhat lugubrious, places the picture in the artist's Proto-Fauve stage. Especially commendable is the artist's control of the paint density throughout the composition, supporting the surface tension of the design in a crucial way. The spatial illusion is here thoroughly under control, even though there are patches of bright, advancing colors in the background. A cut-off chair on the left serves as a familiar repoussoir — a compositional device used to expand the illusion of spatial depth.

A round table covered with a white cloth dominates both the center of the space and the surface of the design, becoming through its scale and brightness the focal point of the picture. The use of different greens to indicate the shadowy folds of the white tablecloth is perhaps indebted to Impressionist theory, which maintained that shadows are not, in fact, truly black. Significantly, Matisse executes this detail in a bold, un-Impressionistic way. The invalid reposes on the bed in the distance, her features undeveloped but with a bright orange flesh tone that contrasts with the pink of her robe. The various items in the table's still life are painted in a generalized, almost abstract manner, though we can identify bot-tles, glasses, a bowl, and a tray. In this summary handling of everyday objects the artist clearly moves a step beyond the labored rendering of each object as seen in the earlier La Desserte (1897). It is clear that by working in a smaller, less ambitious format, Matisse is more capable of a unified control of his painted surface, and the vast majority of his paintings of this period, especially the immediately preceding landscapes of 1898, are unusually small in size.

Working in almost miniature formats seems to have aided the artist at this particular moment in his early development.

The subject of this picture is unique in Matisse's oeuvre, and while he makes nothing of the potential sorrow or pathos of the theme, it is perplexing, given his celebration of life in all its healthy phases later on. The subject does appear occasionally in Nabi work, but the most famous sickroom pictures of this epoch appear in the tortured deathbed scenes of Edvard Munch, a contemporary whose art was concerned, as Matisse's was not, with laying bare the artist's own deepest anxieties.