Contemplating Painters' Paintings

Nils Roemer

 

Sometimes paintings are objects that derive meaning not just because of what they portray or their monetary value but also for what they represent to a viewer. 

Henri Matisse, who eventually would become a devoted art collector, acquired  Paul Cézanne’s Three Bather (1879-1882) in 1899. It is one of the paintings currently on display in London’s National Gallery’s exhibition Painter’s Paintings. At the time, Matisse could barely afford the work. He signed promissory note for 1,200 francs and paid off his debt in installments. When he donated the painting in 1936, to the Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, he related that the painting had not only morally sustained him but that he also drew from it faith and perseverance.