Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
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Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Nu couché à la chemise

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Nu couché à la chemise
inscribed with the intials, numbered and stamped with the foundry mark 'HM. 9 C. VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Length: 11 7/8 in. (30 cm.)
Conceived in Collioure 1906 and cast in a numbered edition of ten plus one in 1951
Pelle Borjesson, Gothenburg, by 1953.
M. Knoedler & Co., Inc., New York.
Private collection, by whom acquired from the above circa 1960; sale, Christie's, New York, 9 November 2000, lot 216.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
A. E. Elsen, The Sculpture of Henri Matisse, New York, 1971, no. 85 (another cast illustrated p. 70)
M. P. Mazzatesta, Henri Matisse: Sculptor/Painter, Fort Worth, 1984, p. 62 (another cast illustrated fig. 37).
I. Monod-Fontaine, The Sculpture of Henri Matisse, London, 1984, no. 16 (another cast illustrated p. 145).
E.-G. Guse (ed.), Henri Matisse: Drawings and Sculpture, Munich, 1991, no. 112 (another cast illustrated).
C. Duthuit, Henri Matisse, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, Paris, 1997, no. 19 (another cast illustrated p. 47).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Annemijn van Grimbergen

Lot Essay

Within the traditions of French painting the theme of the odalisque was typically treated with polish and careful refinement in order to evoke the smooth sensuality, exoticism and indolence of the orientalist harem. Matisse sought to overturn these conventions for his own expressive ends. His energetic and gestural treatment of the odalisque demonstrates a close dialogue between the developments in his easel painting and sculpture during the Fauve period.
Nu couché à la chemise alludes to a classical pose, perhaps referring to Ariadne Sleeping, a second century B.C. Roman copy of a Hellenistic sculpture from Pergamon. This draped reclining figure was treated by numerous later artists, including Poussin, who had a profound influence on Matisse's conception of the idyllic landscape. Indeed, Isabelle Monod-Fontaine includes Nu couché à la chemise among the preliminary works for Matisse's own idyllic painting, Bonheur de vivre, 1905-1906, seeing it as a volumetric rendition of the nude in the foreground of the canvas.
Albert Elsen has also drawn parallels between Nu couché à la chemise and Matisse's fauvist painting. He links the work to the earlier landmark piece, Luxe, Calme et Volupté (1904-1905) noting similarities in the treatment of the figure and linking the complex surface of the sculpture to Matisse's divisionist technique.
"Matisse did violence to the tradition of studied refinements in the odalisque in his Reclining Figure with Chemise As in his paintings of the time with their somewhat additive figural disposition and tangential coordination, each section of the body, divisible at its flexible joints, is made clear, and only the chemise effects flow across the same area. The equivalent of the divided touch in the Luxe, Calme et Volupt, which holds the work together overall, is the coarse modeling that plays counterpoint to the disjunctive silhouette" (A.E. Elsen, op. cit., pp. 69-70).
The present work may well represent a transitional stage in the depiction of the reclining figure from one painting to the next and can be seen as a salient work in the development of Matisse's fauvist oeuvre. Three of the eleven casts are now in public collections including The Baltimore Museum of Art, Musée Matisse in Pontoise and The Hirshhorn Museum in Washinton D.C.. .

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