Creativity may come easily for many artists, but sometimes inspiration arrives in the form of a muse—John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Calvin Klein and Kate Moss, Woody Allen and his cast of thousands. Impressionist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) often found inspiration in his beautiful models.
Head of a Woman (cover) is a typical Matisse portrait. He completed this painting in 1917 when he was 48 years old and married with 3 children. Spending long hours painting women may have been an escape from his family responsibilities. Matisse often had affairs with his models, although he tried to be more discreet than his peers (with varying degrees of success). According to Matisse scholar Jack Flam, the woman in this portrait is a model named Bourlet (e-mail communication, August 26, 2008). Like many of Matisse’s other muses, little is known about Bourlet. She posed for him during the same time period when he painted the Italian model Laurette, whom he captured in more than 40 paintings.
Grayson A. Head of a Woman. JAMA. 2008;300(12):1387. doi:10.1001/jama.300.12.1387