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    Sale 1996

    Impressionist And Modern Works On Paper

    7 May 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 115

    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

    Etude pour Madeleine I

    Price Realised  


    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
    Etude pour Madeleine I
    signed with initials 'H.M.' (lower right)
    charcoal on paper
    10½ x 8½ in. (26.7 x 21.6 cm.)
    Drawn circa 1900-1901

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    Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.

    The present lot was executed in conjunction with one of Matisse's earliest sculptural achievements, Madeleine I. Conceived in 1901, Madeleine I was Matisse's first sculpture of a female subject and alongside its male counterpart, The Serf of 1900-1903, and a later variant of the same subject, Madeleine II, one of his first major explorations of three dimensional form. As Oliver Shell has observed: "Where The Serf is stable, immobile in pose, and constructed in terms of lumpy architectural units, Madeleine I sways with a dynamic, unified spiral rhythm. Her surfaces are smooth, and there is little sign of the sort of editing with a sculptor's knife that is so evident in The Serf. Madeleine I, with its exaggerated contrapposto stance, recalling Michelangelo's Dying Slave, constitutes one of the earliest expression's of Matisse's lifelong interest in the unifying form of the arabesque or serpentine" (in "Seeing Figures: Exhibition and Vision in Matisse's Sculpture," op. cit., exh. cat., Baltimore Museum of Art, p. 51).

    Matisse has observed that he often used the graphic medium to simplify problems of form and invest them with greater visual immediacy. Such is the case in the present drawing; the dynamic twisting of the figure is conveyed very minimally through a slight arc from the figure's bent hind leg to her upturned head. As in the sculpture, the left leg remains very straight and the arms cross, static perpendicular axes to the hips and chignon hair that veer torwards each other. The dark velvety texture of the charcoal line translates the smooth surface characteristic of the earlier Madeleine sculpture, which would become more rugged and aggressively contoured in the second version.


    Mrs. Oliphant (1985).
    Mr. John Torson, New York.
    Jane Carpenter, Inc., New York.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, November 1988.


    Baltimore Museum of Art, Matisse: Painter as Sculptor, January 2007-February 2008.