Today we want to talk about a work by Henri Matisse painted in 1908. Specifically, we are referring to the portrait of Greta Moll that is can be viewed at the Tate Gallery in London.
But we don't want to talk about its artistic characteristics as a magnificent work that embodies all the features of Matisse's fauvist style. That is to say, a work of very bright, strong and vibrant colors applied with clearly visible brushstrokes, with sharp contrasts between some tones and others, in addition to a very simple composition. In short, all the elements that define the Fauvism of Matisse with works such as La danza or La desserte.
Portrait of Greta Moll by Matisse
The reason for talking about this portrait today is to tell something about what surrounds the world of art, and even more so when we refer to consecrated masters. This painting is owned by the National Gallery in London, a public institution that bought the work from a gallery owner in 1979. And he has all the current documentation on it, as well as carried out a detailed study to find out what the history of the painting had been.
However, currently the descendants of Greta Moll have denounced the museum and ask for a million dollar compensation for considering themselves the rightful owners of the painting. Something to which the British institution flatly refuses.
The fact is that Greta Moll was a studentfrom Matisse at his private academy in Paris. At that time the woman was a young woman in her twenties and the painter portrayed her after posing for several modeling sessions. Greta's husband liked the result very much, and she decided to buy it. So on the one hand it's clear that at some point she belonged to the Moll family.
However, the descendants argue that the painting was stolen in the year 1947, and that therefore all transactions from that moment on would be fraudulent, since everything would originate from a theft.
However, the National says that its authenticity studies of the work do not confirm that theft, nor have fraudulent acts been discovered. On the contrary, they consider that their property is legal and well documented, while the family does not have any documents. And therefore they refuse to return the work. So even though the issue is currently in court, they are unlikely to return the canvas to the descendants of Oskar and Margaret Moll, the original purchaser and model of this controversial work of art.