Henri Matisse
Costume for a mourner in The Song of the Nightingale 1920

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
� Henri Matisse, 1920/ Succession H. Matisse. Reproduced by permission of VISCOPY Ltd, Sydney 1999.

In his designs for the set and costumes for The Song of the Nightingale, Matisse simplified the elements of line and decoration, reducing them to their essence. His most dramatic costumes were made for a group of mourners who wore hooded coats of felt appliquéd with midnight-blue velvet. They appear as abstract forms, yet powerfully symbolise the rituals of death and mourning.