1869-1954 | French
Portrait de femme allongée et accoudée
(Portrait of a Woman Reclining and Leaning)
Stamped with initials "HM." (lower right)
Pencil on paper
The great Henri Matisse is renowned for his avant-garde approach to line and form during the mid-20th century. This exceptional line drawing reflects the spontaneity and confidence that define his finest compositions from the 1930s. The drawing was part of an important 1935 series inspired by his principal model, Lydia Delectorskaya; perhaps the most significant of these is his Woman In A Purple Coat, now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Recognizable here by her bob hairstyle and sleepy, almond-shaped eyes, Lydia is not only reminiscent of Matisse's reclining odalisques of the 1920s, but also his 1935 Grand nue couchée (Baltimore Museum of Art), which represents the culmination of his explorations of the female nude.
In both its spontaneity and its purity of line, Portrait de femme allongée et accoudée portends Matisse's later obsession with his revolutionary cut-out series. Ultimately, his intense concentration on line and form would lead the artist to compose gigantic paper cut-outs dedicated to the bare essentials of space and color. These works would prove an immensely important influence on the abstract artists of the next generation. The artist's line drawings of the 1930s mark the beginning of this remarkably important period in the artist’s oeuvre; just a few years later, Matisse would lay down the pencil and pick up the scissors to achieve an even greater clarity of form.
Matisse was renowned throughout his career for his versatility as an artist, and his vast oeuvre encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic arts, paper cutouts, and book illustration. Perhaps one of art history's greatest draftsmen, he is today considered among the most influential artists of his era alongside Pablo Picasso, who was both a close confidante and friendly rival. His ability to see beauty in simplicity set him apart from his contemporaries and paved the way for the Abstract Expressionists, Minimalists, and Pop artists who followed him. Still relevant today, his body of work continues to form the basis of retrospectives and exhibitions at important museums worldwide, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), Tate Modern (London), and Museum of Fine Arts (Boston). Rare and artistically significant, this extraordinary pencil work is an undeniable treasure from one of the very best artists of the modern age.
Georges Matisse has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Paper: 9 3/4" high x 12 3/4" wide
Frame: 18 3/8" high x 22 1/4" wide
The artist's estate
M.S. Rau, New Orleans