CULTURE: The Story behind One of Matisse’s Most-Painted Objects

September 6, 2017

In October 1897, a 27-year-old Henri Matisse attended a wedding in Paris. At the banquet that followed, he was seated next to a young French woman named Amélie Parayre. Each was completely taken by the other; they married less than three months later.
 

At the union of Monsieur and Madame Matisse that following January, among the wedding gifts the couple received was a chocolate pot from Albert Marquet, a close friend of the groom and a fellow Fauvist. This present, which Matisse may have used to make coffee as well as hot chocolate, would go on to appear in dozens of his works throughout his career.
 

Indeed, as the artist once said, “a good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures,” and this chocolate maker grew into one of his favorite stars.

Known as a chocolatière, the first French chocolate pot of this kind was created in the 17th century to prepare fresh hot chocolate drinks. While they began as a luxury item typically made from porcelain, after the invention of cocoa powder (which made the drink cheaper and easier to make), by the mid-1800s, chocolate pots became a household necessity.
 

But Matisse saw more in the chocolate pot than a way to satisfy his sweet tooth. He was undoubtedly drawn to the item’s design—its round, bulbous shape, protruding handle, and shiny, silver surface, which reflected the many vibrant hues of his studio.

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