• Impressionist/Modern Works on  auction at Christies

    Sale 7832

    Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper

    3 February 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 244

    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

    La lecture (recto & verso)

    Price Realised  


    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
    La lecture (recto & verso)
    signed and dated 'H.Matisse mai 47' (recto, lower right); signed with the initials and dated 'mai 47' (verso, lower left)
    charcoal and estompe on laid paper (recto & verso)
    14¾ x 18 in. (37.2 x 47.2 cm.)
    Executed in May 1947

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    Dating from the extraordinary surge of creativity and artistic output that Matisse experienced in the late 1940s, La lecture, both recto and verso, belong to a series of drawings executed in 1947 as variations on the subject of two girls at a table in an interior with a window in the background at the upper right. These drawings are closely related to oil paintings from the same year, including Le silence habité des maisons, 1947, although the subject of the readers is one that goes back to the very beginning of the artist's career with La liseuse, 1894, which according to Pierre Schneider was the artist's first painting to include a figure after his initial experiments with still lifes.

    In addition to the two variations on this theme represented on each side of the sheet, the shadows of a slightly different composition layered beneath the figures on the recto are tangible evidence of Matisse's working methods, which he descriped as multiplying 'constats', objective views, and analyses of his subject in a series of pencil, charcoal and oils, altering angles, perspectives and media 'to work on my subject until I have it sufficiently inside me to be able to improvise' (H. Matisse, quoted in P. Schneider, Matisse, London, 1984, p. 45).

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Galerie Jan Krugier, Geneva.
    Waddington Galleries, London.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in April 1980.

    Pre-Lot Text



    P. Schneider, Matisse, London, 1984 (illustrated p. 45).

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