Henri Matisse, Portrait with Curly Hair, 1907. Oil on Canvas, 22" x 18."
Boy With Butterfly Net, 1907. Oil on Canvas, 70" x 46."
The Steins Collect at the Metropolitan has some really nice surprises, not the least of which were these two Matisse portrait's of Michael Stein's young son Allan.
The portrait is generally not something I'm overly interested after the mid-nineteenth century; the psychological aspects of faces and postures are for me almost always in competition with the innovations in color, space, light, and the other pictorial concerns that dominate European painting from Impressionism until World War One. Not so with these two pictures, however - maybe it's that kid's crazy red mop, so perfect a subject for Matisse, that makes the emotional and pictorial sync up so well in this picture. The arresting frontal portrait is almost like a full-color mug shot with a mischievous expression to match.