Olive Trees at Collioure, 1906. Henri Matisse. Oil on canvas. Robert Lehman Collection, 1975. © 2019 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Painted in Collioure, a scenic town on the Mediterranean coast that drew many painters in the early years of the twentieth century, this is one of the earliest and most important paintings of Matisse’s Fauve period. Inspired by the works of his older contemporaries Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross, who also lived in the south of France at this time, Matisse adopted the vibrant, unnatural colors favored by the Fauves. The artist found great inspiration in the sun-drenched landscape of Collioure, writing to a friend that it was full of “charming sites.” This painting was acquired by the collectors Gertrude and Leo Stein shortly after it was completed.