In 1941, while convalescing from a serious illness, Henri Matisse devised a fresh approach to his interest in repeated motifs: a drawing series that he would published in 1943 as Themes and Variations. Comprising 162 drawings organized into 17 groups, the series mostly depicts female figures reclining or relaxing in chairs. This example, Woman Resting in an Interior (1941) is characterized by the contrast of charcoal and paper and of flatness and depth, as well as by its fluid, energetic line. Other studies in Themes and Variations use a much cleaner line to render the subject. As a whole, the series demonstrates the artist’s commitment to capturing a drawing’s essence through serial reworking.
Photographed in the Morgan Library in Manhattan.