Notre-Dame, une Fin d'Apres-Midi can now be found in the Albright–Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, and is one of Matisse's most famous paintings to be found in the United States. Many of this artist's works were hastily moved across the pond at a time when some were being targeted by the German Third Reich, who wished to dispose of all modern art. Whilst paintings from several great artists were lost, many were thankfully transferred to safe havens in either the UK, other parts of Europe, or indeed the US.
At this stage in his career Matisse was still developing and had recently travelled around Europe in order to get a better understanding of other artists from past centuries. He studied the work of Turner in London, for example. Despite these new ideas he was unable to sell his work effectively at this time and this forced his wife to open a shop in order to supplement the family's income. It always sounds strange to think of a great artist struggling to achieve popularity, but that was the case for many during their own lifetimes.
Henri Matisse's Dark Period
The tones found here are much darker and less vibrant than most would expect from a Henri Matisse painting. The truth is, the artist was not at his happiest during this time and this was reflected in the style of his work. You can visibly see the difference in his mood by comparing this painting to later works such as Open Window, Goldfish and The Snail.
Matisse's Dark Period was impacted by a family scandal on his wife's side, plus his own inability to generate enough funds to alleviate some of this pressure.