Portrait of Greta Moll

© Succession H. Matisse/ DACS 2024. Image credit: Archives H. Matisse, D.R.

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Greta Moll was a sculptor who, along with her German husband Oskar Moll, was enrolled in Matisse’s art school, which he opened in 1908. She had previously been a student in Berlin where her portrait had been painted by the German artist Lovis Corinth. On being shown a photograph of that portrait, which he disliked, Matisse offered to paint his own portrait of her.

Despite the apparent simplicity and directness of his portrait, Greta had to pose for ten three-hour sessions before Matisse could complete it. He decided early on to use the blue and white patterned fabric as a background, and it became a favourite studio prop that appears in many of his paintings. Following the example of Georges Seurat, Matisse deliberately placed pure colours next to each other for maximum effect, but his final choice for Greta’s pose, particularly the position of her arms, was based upon paintings by Veronese and Ingres.

The National Gallery, London



Portrait of Greta Moll




Oil on canvas


H 93 x W 73.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bought, 1979

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

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