HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRESTIGIOUS PRIVATE COLLECTION
HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)

Femme dans un fauteuil

HENRI MATISSE (1869-1954)
Femme dans un fauteuil
signed and dated ‘Henri Matisse 38’ (lower left)
charcoal and estompe on paper
19 x 14 ½ in. (48.2 x 37.2 cm.)
Executed in Nice in October - November 1938
The artist's estate.
Private collection, France.
Private collection, Connecticut.
L & M Arts, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 2006.
P. Schneider, Matisse, Paris, 1984, p. 583 (illustrated).
L. Delectorskaya, Henri Matisse: With apparent ease, Paintings from 1935-1939, Paris, 1988, p. 280 (illustrated).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.
Further details
The late Wanda de Guébriant confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Vice-Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Europe

Lot Essay

The late Wanda de Guébriant confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Created in the autumn of 1938, Femme dans un fauteuil emerged during the period of extensive study and preparation that went into Henri Matisse’s monumental decorative panel Le Chant (1938; Private Collection), which had been commissioned by Nelson A. Rockefeller for his New York apartment. From the outset of the project Matisse was meticulous in his planning and execution, carefully considering every line, tone and detail of the final painting. The artist developed a composition with four female figures relaxing in an interior whose bodies would frame the contours of the fireplace, making use of the architectural features of the room so that the boundaries between the real space of the apartment and the imaginary space of the composition were blurred. Basing these figures on the forms of his two favourite models – Lydia Delectorskaya and Hélène Galitzine – the artist began working on the preliminary studies soon after moving into his new apartment and studio in the Hôtel Regina in Nice, with the final painted panel completed by the beginning of December 1938.
The artist had first hired Lydia, a young Russian émigré, in 1932 to help him in his studio with his grand mural commission for Dr Albert C. Barnes, La Danse (1932-1933; The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia). Impressed by her diligence and efficiency, Matisse engaged her services again in October 1933, this time as a companion to his ailing wife. Yet the artist initially showed little interest in her as a subject for his painterly work. ‘I was not his type,’ Lydia recalled. ‘With the exception of his daughter, most of the models who had inspired him were southern types. But I was a blonde, very blonde’ (L. Delectorskaya, With Apparent Ease … Henri Matisse: Paintings from 1935-1939, 1988, Paris, p. 16). In February 1935, however, he had been trying unsuccessfully for months to regain what he called his ‘coloured vision’ when the sight of Lydia daydreaming inspired him to paint Les yeux bleus (1935; The Baltimore Museum of Art). Within a short space of time she became central to the creation of his work and, as the artist would later remark, he came to know her face and body by heart, like the alphabet (quoted in H. Spurling, Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse, New York, 2005, p. 366). In late 1935, Lydia introduced the artist to her Russian friend Hélène, Princess Galitzine. An oval-faced, wavy-haired brunette, Hélène intrigued Matisse as a visual complement to fair Lydia’s classic features, and both women served as the artist’s preferred models until 1939.
Alongside her modelling duties, Delectorskaya painstakingly recorded the works that Matisse created during this period, providing a rare insight into the artist’s process. Photographs, notes and conversations from the studio formed the core of her book With Apparent Ease... Henri Matisse: Paintings from 1935-1939, published in 1988, which includes a section charting the sequence of charcoal sketches, line drawings, and paintings created in preparation for Le Chant. Across the drawings, the artist explored a range of alternative poses for the two seated figures in the upper register of the panel, allowing his model to shift and reposition herself in the chair, capturing the sinuous lines of her form as she relaxed into each pose (see L. Delectorskaya, op. cit., 1988, pp. 278-287). In Femme dans un fauteuil, Matisse shows a preliminary idea for the left hand figure – seated on a high-backed, square chair, his model leans languorously to the left, her arm draped across the top of the chair. Conjuring a sinuous arabesque that runs from the tips of her fingers, through her torso, and down her shapely legs, Matisse directs her gaze off to the right, towards the positioning of the chanteuse in the final composition.
Long acclaimed for his pen-and-ink line drawings, from 1937 onwards Matisse turned increasingly to working in charcoal with an estompe (a thick paper stick used to blend the strokes), with which he could render and shade contours while suggesting volumetric form. As a result of this approach, the final image appears to emerge from a shadowy network of pentimenti, the page filled with partly erased and reworked lines, tracing the gradual evolution of the image across the page. These charcoal drawings became the artist’s most important tool in preparing for his paintings, especially those with complex compositions such as Le Chant. In his 1939 text Notes d'un peintre sur son dessin, Matisse explained that the ‘charcoal or stump drawing… allows me to consider simultaneously the character of the model, her human expression, the quality of surrounding light, the atmosphere and all that can only be expressed by drawing’ (quoted in J. Flam, ed., Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 130-131). In Femme dans un fauteuil, Matisse outlines his model’s contours in a dark, clear line, allowing the heavily-worked surface to convey the play of light and shadow across her form, while simultaneously capturing a sense of her dreamy reverie as she relaxes into her chair for the performance.

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