Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Property from the Collection of Lee V. Eastman
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Odalisque étendue, au fauteuil turc

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Odalisque étendue, au fauteuil turc
signed 'Henri Matisse' (lower right)
pen and India ink on paper
13 x 20 in. (33 x 50.8 cm.)
Drawn in 1928
Galerie Heinz Berggruen, Paris.
(possibly) Acquired from the above by the present owner, by 1975.
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, and Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts, Henri Matisse: Dessins et sculpture, May-October 1975, p. 120, no. 78 (illustrated; no. 72 in the Brussels exhibition).

Lot Essay

Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.

Matisse employed rubbed charcoal or pencil for many of the drawings that he executed in Nice. While working on his odalisque paintings in the early 1920s, he drew less frequently in pen and ink. The charcoal drawings were usually heavily shaded, while the ink drawings were hatched, in order to express a fuller more sculptural sense of volume and modeled form. In the later 1920s, however, Matisse turned increasingly to what would prove to become his signature style of draughtsmanship: making pure line drawings in pen and India ink. John Elderfield observed, "In the second half of the 1920s, Matisse's drawings would seem to throw off their wistful moods to become as relaxed and hedonistic as most of his paintings were. This was accompanied and made possible by a shift from tonal charcoal drawing to line. Compared to the ink drawings of the early 1920s, the new ink drawings tend, by and large, to eschew shading. Line alone gives weight to figures and participates in the ornamentation provided by the similarly arabesque treatment of the setting. The sheet is often filled out right to the edges to form a single patterned unit within which the identities of the figures are obscured. In drawings of this kind, the decorative function of the figure subsumes its human identity" (in The Drawings of Henri Matisse, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1984, p. 91).

The present drawing is related to a series of odalisque paintings executed 1927-1928, such as Odalisque au fauteuil turc (fig. 1). "These striking paintings are the fullest realization of Matisse's thesis on pattern, decoration, and the odalisque placed in this 'brewing tension'" (J. Cowart, Matisse: The Early Years in Nice 1916-1930, exh. cat., The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1987, p. 37). The model in this drawing reclines on a mat placed over a rug with a Turkish design, with a Turkish chair behind her, and a samovar partly visible at far left. This composition mirrors the paintings of this period in their tripartite layout, with a floral design in the foreground leading the eye into the space, in which the model occupies the center, with various props constituting the background. In the fall of 1926, Matisse moved from the third floor apartment to larger quarters on the top floor at 1, place Charles Félix, which contained two studios that the artist could decorate for his pictorial purposes.

Matisse wrote in his 1939 text, Notes of a Painter on his Drawing, "My line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion" (in J. Flam, ed., Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 130-131). These drawings were done at a single, concentrated sitting, in which the artist cast aside caution and deliberation in order to achieve the freshness and spontaneity that best expressed his vision of an immediate perception of sensuality and visual delight. The results could not be reworked or corrected--Matisse compared himself to a "dancer or tightrope walker." Elderfield stated, "When he did succeed, his line is as stubborn and searching as any we know, as well as direct. Like any act of achieved condensation, it simply seems so fluently easy. The supposed elegance of Matisse's line, like the supposed hedonism of his work as a whole, is nothing less than the convincing clarity of an art that contains its creative struggle within the vividness, and grace, of its realization" (op. cit., p. 92).

(fig. 1) Henri Matisse, Odalisque au fauteuil turc, March 1928 (Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris)


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