HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)

La Danse

Details
HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
La Danse
etching in colors, on Rives BFK paper, 1935-6, signed in pencil, numbered 48/50 (there were also 5 artist's proofs), with full margins, in very good condition, framed
Image: 9 ¼ x 29 1/8 in. (235 x 740 mm.)
Sheet: 11 ¾ x 31 5/8 in. (300 x 805 mm.)
Literature
Duthuit 247

Lot Essay

Henri Matisse considered his prints as a vehicle to sharing his visual motifs with a broader audience. Jay McKean Fisher noted, “Prints gave Matisse a way to share with audience the way he saw, transforming what he observed, synthesized reality with the process of perception. While his paintings and sculpture appeared in major museums in the United States and abroad, his printed extended the uniqueness of his vision for many collector’s more intimate contemplation.” (Jay McKean Fisher, Matisse as Printmaker; Works from the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, American Federation of Arts, 2009. Often Matisse reintroduced or reworked previous subjects through the lens of printmaking. In the first of the artist’s two aquatints in colors, he returned to his monumental and iconic painting, La Danse, first commissioned for Dr. Albert Barnes’ famous home and collection in Merion, Pennsylvania.

Prior to 1936, Matisse had only created one aquatint in 1931. His graphics were primarily done in etching, drypoint, and lithography with a few early experiments in woodcut. In 1936 though, Matisse expanded his range to aquatint. The majority of his aquatints, like his previous prints, were conceived and etched in black and white. Like his works on paper with India ink, Matisse brushed aquatint grains on to a plate to create the reduced outlines and forms of his subjects. For his color works, the aquatint was applied to enhance the artist’s etching. La Danse was Matisse’s first project with the famous printer, Roger Lacourière. The printer specialized in aquatint which allowed artists to create tonal gradations and even brushstrokes. At approximately the same time Lacourière was beginning to work with Matisse, he was also engaged with Picasso to create the Vollard suite.

For La Danse, Matisse returned to the mural created in 1932. He worked on the mural in his studio in Nice France, since he was not permitted to work on site in his patron’s home. The mural was divided as a triptych to sit in three bays. The project encountered several technical and personal hardships. Ultimately, Matisse was forced to execute a second version, since the first painting did not adequately fit into the designated space. Matisse was further dismayed to learn that the work would not be publicly available. Matisse was known to have been quite pleased and proud of his composition. For the print executed 1935-36, he returned to the design for the first version of La Danse. Matisse etched the outlines of the dancers and the three bays. Lacourière applied the aquatint to add the flat color fields. As a result, Matisse made his iconic image originally conceived for a private space available to be viewed by a broader audience.
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