The most famous Fauvist work at the salon, Matisse’s Luxe, Calme, et Volupté (Luxury, Calm, and Desire), finished in 1904, was a shocking, visionary work. With a title borrowed from a poem by Charles Baudelaire, the work had the structure of traditional, idealized landscapes, but its aesthetic—with staccato brushstrokes, the white of the canvas showing through, and non-naturalistic, expressive color and detail—was entirely contemporary, an unrestrained, celebration of the here and now.
Nearby, his 1905 painting Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat) spoke even more forcefully of this foundational moment for Fauvism. Its presence alongside other jarringly colored works by Dérain, Camoin, and Vlaminck made the central gallery in the Grand Palais seem like a “cage.” A half-length portrait of Matisse’s wife, Amélie, Woman with a Hat was full of bourgeois accoutrements: a gloved hand holding a paper fan, the elaborate hat that gives the work its title. Yet these features emerge from a strident, unhinged palette that defied the rules of academic painting and offended bourgeois sensibilities.