Matisse’s wife, dressed in a kimono, sits leaning against a boathouse, almost hidden in the scene. Forms and colors play against each other: the sea at the left, the shadow cast by the building, and the twisting branches above flatten the space.
This work was painted while the Matisses were staying with painter Paul Signac, in the south of France. Isabella Gardner did not buy much modern art. This painting and several drawings by Matisse were given to her by a circle of friends who evidently thought that Matisse’s interest in figures and identifiable places, as well as his sensuous colors, would appeal to Gardner.