Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
THE COLLECTION OF ARTHUR AND ANITA KAHN: A NEW YORK STORYA visit to the New York apartment of Dr. Arthur and Mrs. Anita Kahn provided any visitor with a true celebration for the senses. During a lifetime of collecting, these dedicated connoisseurs assembled one of the most remarkable collections of Pablo Picasso works on paper and postwar American art. From their significant holdings of the work of Alexander Calder to Richard Pousette-Dart’s crowning glory, his 1958 painting Blood Wedding–the collection captures the energy and excitement of this important period. Though the couple came from humble beginnings–he, the son of an immigrant candy store owner, and she, the daughter of a seamstress–their interest in, and admiration for, the creative process led them to be rewarded with a collection that encompassed some of the most important artists of the postwar period. From Alexander Calder to Pablo Picasso, and David Smith to Stuart Davis, their holdings of art demonstrated an astute understanding of the artistic practice and their sheer joy at the works in their collection. The story of this collection is the physical manifestation of the American dream. Both Dr. and Mrs. Kahn were first-generation Americans; his parents were born in Lithuania and Germany, and hers in Poland and Russia. Dr. Kahn grew up in New Jersey, the son of a candy store owner, and he dropped out of school in his teenage years before returning later to complete his studies. He went on to study at New York University, and then established a successful career as an internationally renowned dentist. He was a pioneer of a specific form of restorative dentistry known as gnathology and lectured on its procedures at universities and hospitals around the world. In addition, he built up a successful practice in New York, which treated private patients, artists and some of the most famous names from Hollywood. He was responsible for some of the most celebrated smiles on the silver screen, with one of his celebrity clients even going so far as to dub him “the Rodin of the dental world.”Anita Kahn (née Goretsky) also grew up in New Jersey. Her father sold shirts door-to-door and her mother was a seamstress and a keen amateur artist–a passion she passed onto her daughter. Anita studied art at Temple University in Philadelphia and eventually worked out of a studio on an upstairs floor of an old brownstone on 72nd and Broadway in New York. She would take classes downtown at the New School of Social Research and it was here that she began to immerse herself in New York’s burgeoning art scene. She became a student of such luminaries as Richard Pousette-Dart, Moses Soyer and Anthony Toney and began to develop a lifelong passion for the artists she met and started to acquire examples of their work for her own collection. Without a family tradition of collecting art, the Kahns began to teach themselves as much as they could about their newfound interest and the artists who fascinated them. They took it upon themselves to visit galleries on a regular basis, attend lectures at the city’s museums, and, more importantly, get to know the artists themselves. New York’s legendary Perls Gallery became a regular stop on the Kahns’ quest for knowledge and their persistence would eventually be rewarded with the acquisition of one of their favorite works in the collection–a magnificent sculpture by Alexander Calder. The Kahns’ down-to-earth approach to collecting is summed up by a recollection from their daughter, Karen, who remembered the day that Anita Kahn brought the sculpture home. “My mother took it home from Perls Gallery on the bus!” she recalled. “She was just holding it up in the air as she paid the bus toll. Then, as she was walking towards the back of the bus where she could sit down, the bus stopped suddenly and she went flying through the air and landed right on top of the sculpture.”The Kahns compiled an outstanding collection of Picasso works on paper, buying from the leading galleries of their time, including Saidenberg Gallery in New York, The Waddington Galleries in London and Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris. From their first Picasso purchase of a 1932 reclining nude of Marie-Thérèse being lulled to sleep by a musician to a heavily worked musketeer drawing from 1971, at the end of the artist’s life, the Kahn’s impeccable eye for quality is consistent. During the course of their collecting, they assembled one of the most comprehensive holdings of Calder’s work in private hands. From outstanding examples of his iconic large-scale hanging mobiles, to delicate pieces of his exquisite jewelry, plus his many works on paper, the scope and size of the Kahns’ collection of Calder’s work is unparalleled. Both Anita and Dr. Kahn followed the artist’s career closely and were rewarded with a level of access that allowed them to acquire some signature pieces that would become central to their whole collection. In addition to Alexander Calder, another artist with whom the Kahns formed a lasting relationship was David Smith–a friendship that became one of the longest and most influential of their collecting career. Over the years the Kahns would spend many weekends at the Smiths’ farm in upstate New York, enjoying the spectacular views of the Adirondack Mountains and the artist’s famed collection of works that he placed on his estate. One of these works, the magnificent Tanktotem VIII, 1960, would eventually end up in the Kahns’ collection alongside another important example of Smith’s work, Agricola XIII, 1953.The Kahns also formed a long-term relationship with Richard Pousette-Dart. Anita studied under Pousette-Dart at the New School in New York and it was here that she fell under the spell of his rich abstract canvases, and with one canvas in particular. Blood Wedding is one of the artist’s seminal paintings and its luxuriant color, Surrealist-inspired forms and the poetic nature of Pousette-Dart’s enigmatic composition enthralled Anita and she became one the painting’s most ardent disciples. When it was acquired by a New York insurance company and displayed prominently in their Manhattan headquarters, Anita would visit the building and spend hours sitting in the lobby, basking in its chromatic glory. Eventually her patience paid off and when the insurance company moved offices, Kahn seized the opportunity and, unbeknownst to her husband (whom she feared would have said it was too expensive), acquired the painting that she loved so much and surprised him by giving it pride of place in their apartment, where it became the cornerstone of their extensive holdings of the artist’s work. Other artists who formed the bedrock of this extensive collection include Henry Moore, whose intimately scaled bronzes and works on paper encapsulate the artist’s fascination with the human form; and Stuart Davis, whose classic American Modernist paintings Composition and Autumn Landscape encapsulate the vibrant sense of excitement that captivated the new generation of American artists. The couple also had a strong affinity for European artists, with Matisse being one of their favorites. Also included in the collection are works by lesser-known artists who nonetheless played an important role in the New York School, including Dorothy Dehner and Ibram Lassaw, whose abstract and expressive sculptures captured the Kahns’ imagination.Whilst the works in the collection of Dr. Arthur and Mrs. Anita Kahn span much of the 20th century, its focus is clearly on the bold abstract forms that became the dominant narrative of the postwar period. Enthralled by the downtown art scene that developed in New York after the war, Anita Kahn and her husband seamlessly melded together their own aesthetic inclinations with the spirit of the age. From the highly sophisticated nature of Alexander Calder’s engineered sculptures, to the bold, brutal forms of David Smith’s abstract sculptures, the works in their collection run the gamut of the new and exciting artistic forms that dominated the period. At the time they were embarking on their collection many of their favorite artists were also in the early stages of their careers and were grateful for the sustained patronage that collectors like the Kahns offered them. In return, the Kahns were rewarded with a series of relationships that would prove extremely gratifying. As daughter Karen Kahn remembers, “When my parents bought Calder and Smith, they had no idea that they would become leading 20th century sculptors. My parents just loved their work. It was an aesthetic connection that they had with this art.” The Kahns loved to share their love of art with fellow collectors. A striking couple at social functions–Anita bedecked in her Calder tiara and Arthur wearing his signature red blazer–the couple were instantly recognizable whenever they went out. But they were equally at home in their Upper West Side apartment, sharing their art with museum groups and other interested parties from around the world. “They loved to entertain,” their daughter Karen recalled. “During the tours, they would have string quartets come to the apartment to serenade the visitors. My mother enjoyed showing everyone around the apartment and telling them all her stories about how she collected each particular piece.” Both in life and in art, Dr. Arthur and Mrs. Anita Kahn espoused the spirit of the American dream. Born the children of immigrant parents, they took every opportunity offered to them to build a highly successful life in New York. Their connoisseurship enabled them to ingratiate themselves into the New York artistic community and witness the seismic changes that were taking place in the city at the time–changes that would reverberate around the world. The works in the collection of Arthur and Anita Kahn not only embrace their own personalities, but also capture the excitement of the postwar period when the axis of the art world shifted dramatically westwards and New York became the epicenter of the art world. THE COLLECTION OF ARTHUR AND ANITA KAHN: A NEW YORK STORY
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Étude pour La Dormeuse (Le Rêve)

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Étude pour La Dormeuse (Le Rêve)
signed and dated 'Henri Matisse Déc. 39' (lower left)
charcoal and estompe on paper
24 x 16 1/8 in. (61 x 40.9 cm.)
Drawn in Nice, December 1939
Jeanne de Salzmann, Buenos Aires; sale, Parke-Bernet, Inc., New York, 13 December 1967, lot 27.
Albert Loeb and Krugier, New York.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, by 1975.
L. Delectorskaya, Henri Matisse: Contre vents et marées, Peinture et livres illustrés de 1939 à 1943, Paris, 1996, p. 68 (illustrated).
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Henri Matisse: Dessins et sculpture, May-September 1975, p. 112, no. 112 (illustrated, p. 150; titled Femme dormant sur le coin d'une table).
Bielefeld, Kunsthalle, Henri Matisse: Das Goldene Zeitalter, October-December 1981.
London, Hayward Gallery and New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Drawings of Henri Matisse, February 1984-May 1985, p. 274, no. 96 (illustrated, p. 207; titled Woman Sleeping at the Corner of the Table).
New York, Jan Krugier Gallery, The Presence of Ingres: Important Works by Ingres, Chassériau, Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Balthus, November-December 1988, no. 47 (illustrated; titled Woman Sleeping at the Corner of the Table).
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse: A Retrospective, September 1992-January 1993, no. 332 (illustrated; titled Femme dormant sur le coin d’une table).

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Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

The charcoal drawing Étude pour La Dormeuse (Le Rêve) is a key link in a remarkable chain of paintings and drawings that occupied Matisse between 1937 and 1940, bridging the period of the gathering storm before the Second World War and the first year of the conflict as it quickly engulfed Europe in all its fury. His subject is a sleeping and dreaming young woman, whose figure he adorned in an elaborately embroidered Romanian blouse. Here the war might seem a distant reality. The sleeper is perhaps, however, the artist’s muse seeking a fragile respite from the tragic turn of daily events, her uneasy sleep a tacit lament for a world that has abjured peace and beauty. The ethnic folk blouse suggests a tribute to the brave peoples of Eastern Europe–the Czechs and Poles, already subjugated, and during 1940 the Balkan nations as they resisted the Nazi onslaught.
The blouse roumaine first made its appearance during the spring of 1937 in three photographs that Matisse took of a favorite model, Hélène Galitzine, wearing a garment he had re-discovered among his extensive collection of ethnic costumes and textiles. She posed for a series of drawings, resulting in a painting completed in late April (L. Delectorskaya, Henri Matisse, with apparent ease, Paris, 1988, pp. 236-241). The daydreaming or sleeping woman had been a recurrent subject in Matisse’s work since the early Nice period. Picasso was also fond of this theme, as seen in the latter’s figure paintings of Marie-Thérèse during the early 1930s.
While in Paris during the summer of 1939, Matisse met with the Romanian painter Theodor Pallady–whom he had known since 1895, when they were students at the École des Beaux-Arts–and drew a series of portraits of him (L. Delectorskaya, op. cit., 1996, pp. 41-43). Pallady sent Matisse other examples of the Romanian folk blouse, further stimulating the latter’s interest in its decorative pictorial potential. In a drawing dated 11 December 1939 Matisse conceived the idea for the painting Blouse romaine, which he completed on 9 April 1940 (Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris). Pallady visited Matisse while passing through Nice on his return to Romania, a meeting which Matisse recorded in a pair of portrait drawings dated March 1940. The two artists corresponded during the war.
Matisse introduced the sleeping woman in an ink drawing dated 14 December 1939 (ibid., p. 66). Then, having clad her in Romanian costume, he rendered the present drawing in vigorously worked charcoal on 23 December 1939. The model is Micheline P. Jugé. The artist employed this figure in his painting Nature morte à la dormeuse, completed on 6 January 1940 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). Having reworked this sleeping woman with background elements in three charcoal drawings during 7-9 January, Matisse then commenced on 11 January the apotheosis of his dormeuse roumaine theme–the painting, which, in twelve progressively abstract stages as recorded in Lydia’s photographs, on 19 September 1940 became Le Rêve as it is known today (Matisse: In Search of True Painting, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2012, pp. 150-151). This is “a picture I pursued as the fancy took me,” Matisse wrote to his son Pierre in New York on 18 September 1940. “This painting, which started out very realistic with a beautiful woman sleeping on a marble table amid fruit, has become an angel... The visible sleeve is embroidered, it’s the Romanian blouse” (quoted in ibid., p. 153).

Henri Matisse, Le Rêve, Nice, September 1940. Private collection.

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