Statens Museum for Kunst owns one of the most important Matisse collections in the world. It includes a number of paintings that must be counted among the absolute masterpieces from his younger years. The collection is further distinguished by the fact that almost all its paintings were selected by Matisse himself to represent his art within significant contexts. He had most of them exhibited at one or more of the early landmark exhibitions that served to establish his name as a truly remarkable, innovative artist. He sold most of these works to patrons and collectors who ensured the basis for his activities during the early years, particularly Sarah and Michael Stein.
Each of the works at the museum enters into complex and exciting interplay with key contemporary works within Matisse’s many-faceted total body of works. Over the years, a very long succession of Danish and international Matisse experts have sought to disentangle the often rather complex web of threads that encompass and link the works, building a considerable body of knowledge and insights. Even so, it is still possible to discover new aspects that tease additional layers of meaning from the paintings. That is why the museum invited eight of the world’s pre-eminent Matisse scholars to direct their attention to one of the museum’s masterpieces.