Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
These lots have been imported from outside the EU … Read more PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF MR AND MRS ALLAN FRUMKIN
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Femme nue

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Femme nue
signed 'Henri.Matisse' (lower left); signed again 'Henri.Matisse' (lower right)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 21 ½ in. (65.3 x 54.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1915
Walter Pach, New York, by whom acquired directly from the artist, in Summer 1926; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 6 January 1949, lot 57.
Joseph Peters, New York; sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 19 March 1958, lot 48.
Dina Vierny, Paris, by 1970.
Waddington Galleries, London, by whom acquired from the above, in 1974.
Acquired from the above by the late owners, on 10 July 1974.
J. Flam, Matisse: The Man and His Art, 1869-1918, Ithaca & London, 1986, p. 404 (illustrated fig. 407, p. 406).
Paris, Galerie Dina Vierny, Matisse, April - June 1970, n.p. (illustrated; titled 'Nu couché avec une draperie' and with incorrect provenance).
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Sale room notice
Please note this lot is subject to Artist's Resale Right.

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Keith Gill
Keith Gill

Lot Essay

Wanda de Guébriant has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Matisse painted this Femme nue circa 1915, during the early years of the First World War. The painterly, naturalistic way in which the artist rendered his model, the palette he chose to depict her – entirely in Mediterranean sienna and pale ochre, terracotta-like tints, loosely contoured in black – and indeed the very subject itself, are unusual in his work at this time. Looking ahead, however, as Jack Flam has observed, ‘The lush handling of the paint and the sensuality of this painting anticipate the numerous portraits of Laurette that Matisse produced over the next two years and the nudes he later did in Nice’ (J. Flam, Matisse: The Man and his Art, 1869-1918, Ithaca, 1986, p. 404). 
The declarations of war in August 1914 caught nearly everyone, including Matisse, by surprise. Within a few weeks, as the initial German offensive rapidly approached Paris, Matisse and his family left their home in Issy-les-Moulineaux to join the hordes of Parisians who fled south and west to escape the fighting. Having deposited their children in Toulouse, Matisse and his wife Amélie continued the journey to their rented house in Collioure. There Matisse painted the now iconic Porte-fenêtre à Collioure, a composition of sombrely coloured panels that verges on abstraction, in which a pitch black void suggests the anxious uncertainty the artist felt as he learned what little he could about events of the day. Most alarming of all, Matisse’s elderly mother and relations in his native Bohain were trapped behind German lines, and would remain so for the next four years. His brother Auguste had been made a hostage and detained for forced labour. 
The arrival, at this juncture, of the American painter, critic, and enthusiastic advocate of modernism, Walter Pach in Paris on 15 October 1914, proved a godsend for Matisse. Pach had been the chief talent scout who searched the capitals of Europe for modern paintings to include in the 1913 Armory Show in New York. He secured from Leo Stein the loan of Matisse’s Nu bleu: souvenir de Biskra, 1907, which became one of the most notorious works in the exhibition. Undaunted by the threat that the hostilities caused, Pach was keen to return to Europe, and continue to seek out works for acquisition, exhibition and sale in New York at the Montross and Carroll Galleries. Pach was especially looking forward to organising a solo exhibition of Matisse’s work, the artist’s first in America, at the Montross Gallery, slated for 20 January-27 February 1915. He met with Matisse several times in Paris before returning to New York on 15 November. 
The shipment of Matisse and Pach’s selection of 74 paintings, sculptures and prints arrived in New York on 15 January 1915. In March, following the show, Pach listed for Matisse the numerous prints and six sculptures that had been sold; both John Quinn and Walter Arensberg had been buyers. Pach continued to correspond with Matisse during the war, and to receive art to sell. He did not return to Paris until he spent the summer of 1921 in Neuilly, and visited Matisse in nearby Issy. 
Matisse did little painting during the early months of 1915. At 45 he was three years shy of the upper age limit for conscription. When he reported for his summons he had a flu; noticing a weak heart, the examining officer relegated Matisse to the auxiliary reserve, where the artist engaged in relief work, sending aid packages to the needy and French prisoners of war. He tried twice, in vain, to have his status changed, pleading to be placed on some kind of active duty. ‘I am often sickened by all of the upheaval to which I am not contributing’, he confided to the critic Réné Jean, ‘and it seems to me my place is not here. I work as much as I can’ (Matisse, quoted in Matisse: Radical Invention 1913-1917, exh. cat., Chicago, 2010, p. 226). 
When Matisse resumed painting on a dedicated basis in mid-1915, he worked in his own cubist, architectonic mode – the severe, uncompromising phase of ‘radical invention’. In October he commenced, continuing in this manner, the large canvas Les marocains, drawing upon his memories of the two trips he made to Tangier during 1912-1913. It was perhaps in late 1915 that Matisse painted the present Femme nue, depicting a reclining odalisque. Pach would later acquire this work in the summer of 1926.
Matisse may have not employed an actual model for this Femme nue, but instead took inspiration from the odalisques of Delacroix, the premier French orientalist, and the harem nudes of Ingres, contrasting approaches at the romantic and the classical antipodes of 19th Century art, not unlike the dual, opposing manners in which Matisse was painting Femme nue and Les marocains. Matisse remembered how he, Picasso, Derain, and many others had admired the retrospective accorded Ingres in the 1905 Salon d’Automne, the same venue where Matisse and his colleagues had caused a storm of controversy in salle VII, as they first showed their fauve paintings. 

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