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The Cover
December 24 2008


JAMA. 2008;300(24):2833. doi:10.1001/jama.2008.674

It was early January 1909, not long after the Christmas holidays, when two men sat down to lunch at the Restaurant Larue in Paris. The one, a Russian, was Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin, a wealthy textile merchant from Moscow and an avid collector of avant-garde art. The other was a dapper, 40ish Frenchman, Henri Émile Matisse (1869-1954), for the past four years the acknowledged leader of the so-called Fauves, whose exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in 1906 had rocked Paris. But no mind: Matisse may have been maligned and his work ridiculed, but his sales increased. And that is exactly what had brought Shchukin to Paris. A collector of the most radical of the “new modernism,” he was there to ask Matisse to make a pair of murals for the staircase of his house in Moscow. One would be called Dance (cover ), the other Music. For that he offered 27 000 francs, a handsome sum in turn-of-the-century Paris.