Henri Matisse’s use of bold, brilliant color, varied textures, and tranquil scenes has captured the minds of many art appreciators for decades. During certain periods in his life he was drawn to one subject over another, and one of these fascinations developed while on a trip to Morocco, where he encountered the populace daydreaming by bowls of goldfish.

This led to a fascination with the idea of contemplation, and it showed up in a total of nine of his works, some painted years after his time spent in Morocco. This particular painting, Still Life with Goldfish, was completed in 1912, and continued his search for a way to invite his audience into a relaxed state, much like the Moroccans experienced with their goldfish encased in glass.

That yearning for quiet tranquility, paired with the bright, sometimes crowded interiors so prevalent in his work make Matisse an artist worth studying. One could spend months on a single painting and still have more to explore. If you ever get the chance, you can see some of his paintings up close and personal at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

If you’d like to learn more about this specific painting, there is an excellent, in depth write up by Charlotte Wilkins for Khan Academy in the Modern and Contemporary Art section. If you’d like to learn more about the artist, you can read more on Henri Matisse here.

Henri Matisse, Still Life with Goldfish (1912)