HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
Bouquet, vase chinois
signed 'H Matisse—' (lower left)
oil on board laid down on cradled panel
28 5/8 x 21 1/4 in. (72.5 x 53.8 cm.)
Painted in 1901
Ambroise Vollard, Paris (1901).
Mme Bruneau, Paris.
Galerie Bernheim Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 29 June 1917).
Galerie Mancini, Paris (acquired from the above, 28 July 1917).
(possibly) Mnavzagan Pridonoff, Paris.
(possibly) Galerie Eugène Druet, Paris.
Dr. Jacques Soubiès, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 14 June 1928, lot 73.
Private collection, France (acquired at the above sale, then by descent); sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1995, lot 123.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty at the above sale.
G.-P. and M. Dauberville, Matisse, Paris, 1995, vol. I, p. 358, no. 44 (illustrated, p. 359; titled Vase de fleurs).
Paris, Galerie Vollard, Exposition des oeuvres du peintre Henri Matisse, June 1904, p. 9, no. 32 (titled Chrysanthèmes).
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Matisse from San Francisco, November 2013-September 2014, no. 8 (illustrated in color).
Further details
Georges Matisse has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Brought to you by

Elizabeth Seigel
Elizabeth Seigel Vice President, Specialist, Head of Private and Iconic Collections

Lot Essay

Painted in 1901, as Henri Matisse was becoming a central figure of the Parisian avant-garde, Bouquet, vase chinois presciently anticipates some of the most radical aspects of the artist’s oeuvre. A floral still life—one of Matisse’s greatest, perennial themes—is rendered with a palette of vibrant color, applied with thick, lavish brushstrokes. Together, these innovative formal characteristics marked the beginning of Matisse’s development towards the notorious Fauve canvases that were first exhibited four years later, in 1905.
Bouquet, vase chinois dates from a moment in which Matisse was gradually starting to establish himself in the art world of Paris. He had by this point met André Derain, and was introduced to Maurice de Vlaminck in the spring of 1901—both of whom would soon become his Fauve collaborators. In April 1901, Matisse’s work was exhibited for the first time at the Salon des Indépendants, where the artist’s friend of the time, Albert Marquet, remarked that they were the only artists to employ pure color (quoted in H. Spurling, The Unknown Matisse, A Life of Henri Matisse, London, 1998, vol. 1, p. 224). As the contemporary art dealer Berthe Weill, whom the artist first met at the end of the year, and who would become an important advocate for the artist, described, “Young painters and writers began to congregate around Matisse, attracted by this creator, this renovator of painting who pulled the rug out from under the officials…” (ibid., p. 227).
Throughout this period, Matisse painted a number of floral still lifes, such as the present work. Picturing bunches of chrysanthemums, ranunculi, or sunflowers—all relatively inexpensive flowers that were easy to come by at various points of the year—Matisse refined his artistic vision. As Jack Flam has described, “The still lifes of this period are notable for the dissonance of their colors, their vigorous brushstrokes, and their extensive use of a drawn contour. The impasto is usually quite thick, and pentimenti are often noticeable” (Matisse: The Man and his Art, 1869-1918, London, 1986, pp. 102-103).
It was above all Paul Cezanne who served as the artist’s great hero at this time. He had, in 1899, acquired the artist’s Trois baigneuses (circa 1879-1882, gift of Matisse to the Musée de la ville de Paris), which became a kind of talisman for the artist over the years that followed. Looking to the master of Aix’s majestically composed and masterfully colored still lifes, Matisse honed in on the compositional structure of his works, and the process of painting itself. “If Cezanne is right, then I am right,” he once claimed. “And I knew that Cezanne had made no mistake” (quoted in op. cit., 1998, p. 250).
The present work also shows the influence of Vincent van Gogh. In March 1901, the first ever exhibition of the artist opened at the Bernheim-Jeune gallery. In contrast to the refinement and meticulousness of Cezanne’s art, vigorous facture, rich impasto and vibrant colors of Bouquet, vase chinois tells of the simultaneous influence of the Dutch master’s revolutionary painting, in particular his dazzling floral still lifes. These aesthetic characteristics would continue to develop in Matisse’s work for the following years, leading up to the canvases that instigated the great furor when they were shown at the Salon d’Automne in 1905.
Bouquet, vase chinois was included in Matisse’s first one-man show held at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery in June 1904. Writer and critic, Roger Marx, wrote the preface to the exhibition, “Matisse delights in capturing anything that pleases his profound and lucid sight. He welcomes the sunbeam that kindles the brilliance of chrysanthemums and tulips in the half-shadows, or the bright reflections on the shimmering surface of a ceramic or of golden tableware… Other festivals of light and color will beckon him in days to come, and always he will strive to capture them with the same all-encompassing effort, ever determined to make the means of expression equal the sensitivity of his vision, and to express the harmonies between the external world and his own character, at once so passionate and tender” (“Preface” in Exhibition of Works by the Painter Henri Matisse, in J. Flam, ed., Matisse: A Retrospective, New York, 1988, p. 44).

More from The Ann & Gordon Getty Collection: Volume 1 | Important Pictures and Decorative Arts, Evening Sale

View All
View All