Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art History (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Nathan J. Timpano

Second Committee Member

Perri Lee Roberts

Third Committee Member

Maria Galli Stampino


This thesis studies the relationship between the works of French artist Henri Matisse and the medium of stained glass, with emphasis on the formal properties of his oeuvre that define his ten executed stained glass pieces. Current scholarship treats Matisse's stained glass works as an expansion of his cutouts, or, alternatively, as conventional religious decoration. This paper proposes to interpret the artist's stained glass works as secular pieces that epitomize his artistic preferences, with primary focus on both his stylistic elements and the characteristics of the stained glass form, demonstrating the visual congruencies between that signature style and the medium. I indicate the artist's stained glass works constitute an independent catalog that embodies Matisse's distinctive artistic characteristics. This investigation also concludes that these artworks provide archetypal examples of Modernism and advance art itself; they highlight the properties of the medium, exemplifying Clement Greenberg's theory of medium specificity. I contend Matisse's glass work intentionally exclude traditional religious imagery illustrating Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's supposition that art constantly moves towards its ideal form.


Matisse; Stained Glass; Matisse's Style; Modernism