Hitler in Italy, The Year 1938
Don't confuse The Conversation of 1938 with Henri Matisse's painting of the same title completed in 1912.
In 1938, Henri Matisse's world was coming undone. The days, metaphorically speaking, were dark. French Prime Minister, Édouard Daladier, and British PM Neville Chamberlain, worked in vain to avoid war with Germany and Italy. 1938 was the year of the Austrian Anschluss and the annexation of the Sudetenland. Hitler would pay a high profile visit to Rome and Florence in May. Ominously, the Nazis began the construction of the large concentration camp in Mauthausen, Austria. In Pablo Picasso's Spain, the Civil War was raging. In Nice, where Matisse lived, residents feared an Italian invasion.
Henri Matisse had twice experienced the occupation of his hometown of Bohain, France by the German army. Now, he feared the third such event. At the age of sixty-nine, his health was fragile and in another couple of years he would undergo a colostomy, which bound him to a wheelchair and eventually to his bed. Although Matisse would live another sixteen years, in 1938 his life as a painter was soon to end.
Amelie, his wife of forty years, was beginning the process of separation from Matisse and would sue in less than a year. She had endured the hat painting, but was finished with the famous painter as a wife. Turmoil is not the right word to describe M. Matisse's life - cataclysmic would do better.
What will Henri do with this chaotic milieu? He will paint what is, in my estimation, the best work hanging in the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art. See my report next time.
Amelie Matisse, giving "The Look."
It's not about the hat.