Fourth State: Bathers by a River
Bathers X-radiograph: Fourth State

‹ Click to explore the fourth state of the painting

Fourth state,
early November 1913

Sometime around the beginning of November 1913, Matisse arranged for the photographer and dealer Eugène Druet to record the fourth state of Bathers by a River. Vestiges of the May state remain. At the top, Matisse retained the high horizon that is the source of the waterfall; he also kept the general position of the four bathers and the snake, although shifting them slightly in some cases. The artist also took a more angular, abstracted, Cubist approach to form, reduced the figures to give them a generalized hieratic quality. Finally, Matisse drastically transformed the picture's mood with an austere palette of primarily grays.

Photograph of Bathers by a River, November 1913

Photograph of Bathers by a River by Eugène Druet, showing the painting in the artist’s Issy studio, as it was in November 1913.

The painting rests against the familiar bead-board paneling of Matisse’s Issy-les-Moulineaux studio, propped up on crates with art materials gathered on the floor. Comparing the fourth to the third state, we can appreciate the major transformation that the artist wrought in a few short months. While he retained or eliminated some elements of the composition, he introduced others—the leafy plants, rippling water, and repeated round forms of the trees—that suggest a new kind of imaginary landscape.

Large Nude, 1907 or 1913

Large Nude, 1907 or 1913. Lithograph on white chine. The Art Institute of Chicago, Prints and Drawings Purchase Fund, 1955.1050.

With its abstracted form and pose, the figure in this print recalls the figure seated at the left side of the waterfall in Bathers by a River. Matisse worked the image directly on the stone, scraping down and adjusting it much like he did his large-scale composition. He constructed the bather out of a network of soft black and gray lines, employing an atmospheric shadowing that parallels the palette of the painting.

Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917
Bathers by a River
Back: 1908-09, 1911(?)-13, 1913-16, c. 1931
A Great French Painter, Henri Matisse: A film from 1946
Art Institute of Chicago
Home Glossary Credits Matisse Research Team next page 5b page 4a page 2 page 7 page 5a page 6 page 1 page 3a page 4b page 0 page 3b