• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7562

    Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

    4 February 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 46

    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

    Scène d'intérieur

    Price Realised  

    Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
    Scène d'intérieur
    signed and dated 'Henri Matisse 4/44' (lower left)
    pen and india ink on paper
    16 x 20¾ in. (40.4 x 52.7 cm.)
    Drawn in April 1944


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    Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this work.




    With its flowing line and the implied exoticism of the pomegranates, flowers, goblet and beautiful woman, Scène d'intérieur is an enchanting glimpse into the lyrical world of Matisse. This was a world dedicated to beauty, and the deceptive simplicity, the sheer economy of means with which he has rendered this scene, allowing the paper itself to add a glowing luminosity, perfectly encapsulate this. 'My line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion,' Matisse explained. 'Simplification of means allows that. But those drawings are more complete than they appear to some people who confuse them with a sketch. They generate light; looked at in poor, or indirect light, they contain not only quality and sensibility, but also light and difference in values corresponding obviously to colour... Once I have put my emotion to line and modelled the light of my white paper, without destroying its endearing whiteness, I can add or take away nothing further' (Matisse, quoted in Matisse as a Draughtsman, exh.cat., ed. Victor I. Carlson, Baltimore, 1971, p. 18).

    This lyrical vision of beauty and light dates from April 1944, from a period when his work had been marked by what he himself termed as a floraison, a flowering. This had in part begun following an emergency operation from which he had feared he would not recover. Writing a couple of years earlier, he explained: 'My terrible operation has completely rejuvenated and made a philosopher of me. I had so completely prepared for my exit from life, that it seems to me that I am in a second life' (Matisse, quoted in J. Cowart et al., Henri Matisse: Paper Cut-Outs, exh. cat., St. Louis, 1977, p. 43). It is with unfettered enthusiasm that he has captured this 'second life' in Scène d'intérieur.

    The lyricism and beauty of this picture in fact provided Matisse with a form of escape during 1944. The Second World War had resulted in his moving to a villa named Le Rêve in Vence in 1943. Matisse's vision of beauty was part of a deliberate attempt to separate art from war, to avoid it being tainted by the tumult and politics of the outside world. In April 1944, when Scène d'intérieur was executed, Matisse's desire to escape into his world of exotic languor and beauty was increased following the arrest by the Gestapo of his ex-wife and his daughter because of their involvement with the Resistance. It was months before Matisse had any news from them (it was later discovered that both had survived, although his daughter had been tortured and sent to a concentration camp); and it appears to have been against this background of anxiety and torment that Matisse sunk himself into the poetic beauty of his art, resulting in the fluid, graceful elegance of Scène d'intérieur.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Provenance

    Moos fils, Geneva, by 1948.
    Acquired from the above by the father of the present owner.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION


    Literature

    M. Malingue (ed.), Matisse, dessins, Paris, 1949 (illustrated pl. 55).


    Exhibited

    Neuchâtel, Le Musée des Beaux-Arts de Neuchâtel, Collections Neuchâteloises, April - May 1956, no. 191.