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The Piano Lesson

The Piano Lesson
signed 'Sophie Matisse' (bottom left); signed again, titled and dated 'The Piano Lesson Sophie Matisse 2013'
oil on linen
98 x 80 in. (248.9 x 203.2 cm.)
Painted in 2013.
Private collection

Brought to you by

Julian Ehrlich
Julian Ehrlich Associate Vice President, Specialist, Head of Post-War to Present Sale

Lot Essay

"When my grandfather, Pierre Matisse, was a young boy, he was obliged to take piano lessons. It was what one did in those days, and Pierre was no exception. He dreaded it, he later confessed to me.

Some seventy-five years later, he recalled these memories with a lighter heart and, of course, a certain pride, as it led him to be the sole occupant of another one of his father's great works, The Piano Lesson.

Unknown to many, Pierre inherited a devious playfulness from his father that I got to see and experience first-hand when I went to art school in Paris. He lived primarily in New York and vacationed in the south of France during the summer months. My grandfather had always taken an interest in my artistic endeavors, especially now that I was enrolled in the same art school as his father had attended close to a century earlier. He made an effort to see me more often, gave me a Carte Blanche at the same art store his father used, the famous Febvre Foinet, we discussed my drawings on a regular basis, exchanged letters, went out for Bloody Marys and had fun. He told me funny stories and even joked about some of the schemes he would invent with his buddy to get out of having to sit through another piano lesson. At one point, he sent me a postcard of his father's Piano Lesson painting. The only words written on the reverse side were 'Guess who?!!'. It always made me laugh.

Years later, when I was asked to create a new work for the 2013 exhibition 'Bonjour Monsieur Matisse' at the MAMAC in Nice, France, I immediately remembered this painting and the stories Pierre used to recount about how eager he once was to escape his lessons, I accepted the challenge and got to work on my version of The Piano Lesson (for Pierre!).

What a laugh we would have had if he were alive to see it...little Pierre, finally able to skip out on his dreaded piano lesson!"

- Sophie Matisse

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