This work is sold with a photo-certificate from Wanda de Guébriant dated Paris, le 26/3/98.
For Matisse, the act of drawing became virtually an obsession. Prior to 1935 drawings held a subsidiary role, serving as a means of solving compositional problems that the artist encountered in his works on canvas. From 1935 onward, the process became central to his art and served as the catalyst for changes in the evolution of his painterly aesthetic.
During this period Matisse's interest in Symbolist poetry moved to the forefront of his artistic aims - a source of inspiration he had not drawn from since 1906 and exemplified in the painting La joie de vivre. Collaborating with editors Louis Aragon of Mourlot and Tériade, Matisse parlayed this interest to book illustration. Working closely with the editor in conception and design, the most notable of these projects includes editions of Mallarmé's Poésies (1931- 32), Joyce's Ulysses (1935), De Montherlant's Pasiphaé (1937), Ronsard's Florilège des Amours (1941-48), and Baudelaire's Les fleurs du mal (1944-47).
The present work, a richly shaded charcoal drawing of Charles Baudelaire, was executed in Vence in 1944. Sourced from a 19th century photograph, it was executed at the time Matisse had begun work on the accompanying illustrations for the poet's Les fleurs du mal, published in 1947.