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

Fillette debout, bras le long du corps

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Fillette debout, bras le long du corps
stamped with initials and numbered 'HM 8/10' (on the right side of the base); stamped with foundry mark 'C VALSUANI CIRE PERDUE' (on the back of the base)
bronze with dark brown patina
Height: 19 in. (48.1 cm.)
Conceived in Collioure in 1906; this bronze version cast circa 1930
Galerie Pierre, Paris (May 1930).
Galerie Samlaren (Agnes Widlund), Stockholm (March 1955).
Marika Pauli, Stockholm.
Acquired by the late owner, by circa 1995.
A.E. Elsen, "The Sculpture of Henri Matisse–Part II: Old Problems and New Possibilities," Artforum, vol. 7, October 1968, p. 24 (another cast illustrated).
A.E. Elsen, The Sculpture of Henri Matisse, New York, 1972, p. 64 (another cast illustrated, pls. 79-80).
P. Schneider, "Matisse's Sculpture: The Invisible Revolution," Art News, vol. 71, March 1972, p. 22.
A.H. Barr, Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public, London, 1975, p. 100 (another cast illustrated, p. 327).
I. Monod-Fontaine, The Sculpture of Henri Matisse, London, 1984, p. 145, no. 17 (another cast illustrated).
P. Schneider, Matisse, London, 1984, p. 541.
N. Watkins, Matisse, New York, 1985, p. 82 (another cast illustrated, fig. 62).
J. Flam, Matisse: The Man and His Art, Paris, 1986, p. 182, no. 173 (another cast illustrated).
C. Duthuit and W. de Guébriant, Henri Matisse: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre sculpté, Paris, 1997, pp. 48-51 and 312, no. 20 (another cast illustrated, pp. 48-49 and 51).
H. Spurling, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse, The Early Years, 1869-1908, New York, 1998, pp. 363-364 (another cast illustrated, p. 364).
J. Fischer, "Paint the Town," San Jose Mercury News, 7 October 2000, p. 1F (another cast illustrated in color).
P. Rowlands, “Double Feature,” ARTnews, November 2000, p. 179 (another cast illustrated in color).

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Lot Essay

Matisse modeled Fillette debout, bras le long du corps in Collioure during the summer of 1906, an intensely fruitful period in which he experimented freely with both painting and sculpture, testing a number of stylistic options in search of a new direction for his art. With its subtle anatomical distortions, hieratic frontality, and melancholic, almost elegiac mood, this compelling figurine departs radically from the more naturalistic mode that Matisse had employed in earlier sculptures and provides a powerful index of his intensified interest in tribal and archaic art, which would prove key in his journey from Fauvism to decorative abstraction. The model for the sculpture was Matisse’s daughter Marguerite, who was nearing twelve years old that summer. During the day, clad in a red dress with a pleated yoke collar, her hair loose around her shoulders, she sat patiently for the painting Marguerite lisant; when the light failed, she pinned her hair up in a loose bun and posed for the present sculpture, her hands resting demurely on her thighs. “Though modeled after Marguerite, Standing Nude is hardly a portrait,” Michael Mezzatesta has written. “For the first time in Matisse’s sculpture, a bronze assumed the status of a totem or icon” (Henri Matisse: Sculptor/Painter, exh. cat., Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, 1984, p. 57).
When Matisse began work on Fillette debout, the lessons of African sculpture—which he had first admired earlier that year at a curio shop called Chez le Père Sauvage—were at the forefront of his mind. Borrowing from the exaggerations and embellishments of tribal figurines that he had seen, he elongated the neck and torso of his sculpture of Marguerite and shortened and thickened the thighs; he gave the figurine an unexpectedly heavy coiffure, swelling breasts, projecting buttocks, and a pronounced roundness in the belly. These distortions imbue the sculpture with a new plastic and expressionist vigor, anticipating in a quiet way the more brutal deformations of Nu couché I (Aurore), 1907 and Figure décorative, 1908. The figure is no longer recognizable as an individual sitter; Matisse has overlaid Marguerite’s pre-adolescent form with a pronounced womanliness, which contrasts with the chaste, decorous pose to produce a powerful physical tension. The still, symmetrical stance of the figure—shoulders back, arms at the sides, hips level, and feet together, with only a slight turn of the head to disrupt the calm equilibrium—underscores its non-naturalistic conception, evoking the frontal posture and elegant formalism of archaic Greek korai, for example, or Amarna-period statuary.
“Sculpture once again became a testing ground,” Hilary Spurling has written. “Everything about the little figure of his daughter—its symmetrical stance, large head, long arms, short legs, prominent buttocks and belly—suggests how fast Matisse was moving away from anatomical construction towards the radical reinvention of the human body that impressed him in African or Egyptian sculpture” (op. cit., p. 363).

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