Henri Matisse, Young Sailor I, 1906, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 32".

“Matisse: In Search of True Painting”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Henri Matisse, Young Sailor I, 1906, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 x 32".

SOMETIME DURING the summer of 1906, in the French border town of Collioure, a teenager named Camille Calmon sat down to model for Henri Matisse. Matisse completed two paintings of Calmon in sailor’s clothes. Young Sailor I possesses the brilliant color, vigorous handling, and accentuated facial contours, verging on scarification, of the painter’s Fauvist portraits of the previous year; his voluminous green leg and the sweeping crescent line of his arm foretell the grand manner of the famous paintings of bathers and dancers of 1907–1909. Calmon looks to his right. His body is wiry, compact. His knee dangles over the chair’s edge clumsily, and his arm presses against the back. His thumb juts into his thigh in a forced pose. A naturalistic depiction, in the end: a local boy earning a day’s pay, perhaps. He has a case of spilkes, ants in the pants. How he longs to spring from his

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