Lot 17
  • 17

Henri Matisse

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
386,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Henri Matisse
  • Nu debout
  • signed H. Matisse (lower left)
  • charcoal and estompe on paper


Jean Matisse (the artist's son)

Galerie Lumley Cazalet, London (acquired by 1981)

Galerie Beyeler, Basel

Acquired from the above by the late owner in June 1984


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Nudes - Nus - Nackte, 1984, no. 43, illustrated in the catalogue

Andros, Fondation Basil et Elise Goulandris, Henri Matisse, 1988, illustrated in the catalogue

Berlin, Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz,  Linie, Licht und Schatten. Meisterzeichnungen und Skulpturen der Sammlung Jan und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 1999, no. 144, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Venice, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Timeless Eye. Master Drawings from the Jan and Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski Collection,1999, no. 174, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Coleccion Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 159, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Musée Jacquemart-André, La Passion du Dessin. Collection Jan et Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2002, no. 148, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Matisse/Picasso, 2002-03, no. 112, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Matisse 1917-1941, 2009, no. 54, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Lydia Delectorskaya, ...l'apparente facilité... Henri Matisse. Peintures de 1935-1939, Paris, 1986, illustrated p. 171

Catalogue Note

Henri Matisse is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most gifted and innovative draughtsmen. The gradual evolution of his drawing style reached its peak during the 1930s and 1940s when he developed the estompe technique in which charcoal is rubbed to a fine smoky appearance with highlights erased with a stump of paper. The use of estompe has become synonymous with Matisse and the subtle luminosity it delivers is uniquely desirable as shown by works such as Nu debout. The present work is executed with grace and economy: the pure rich black contours sweep across the sheet delineating the powerful figure and succinctly depict the taut limbs and soft flesh. Christian Zervos wrote that ‘Form lives by the movement that produces the illusion of rhythm and re-establishes anatomy, for doctors who believe anatomy is expressed by the play of muscles are mistaken, it is movement that creates the constant linkages of forms. It is not a mouth alone, or the white of the eyes, or the neck that matters, but the rhythm that holds them together… That is the perfection we find in his drawings’ (C. Zervos, Henri Matisse. Drawings, 1936, London, 2005, p. 6).

Throughout the 1930s and 1940s Matisse drew obsessively, producing numerous works on paper using a variety of materials, but favouring two in particular – charcoal and ink. Ink, applied using either a brush or pen, was used to depict a variety of subjects from nudes and portraits to still-lifes, while charcoal was almost exclusively employed to depict the female figure. Matisse fully exploited the qualities of both techniques and produced many remarkable images; however it was with charcoal created the definitive works on paper of his career (fig. 1). Dissimilar though they were, these two techniques were inter-related in practice. In his article Notes d’un peintre sur son dessin published in 1939, Matisse described the advantages of these different media: ‘the [ink] drawings are always preceded by studies made in a less rigorous medium than pure line, such as charcoal or stump drawing, which 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’. In the charcoal drawings he established ‘the lines or the special values distributed over the whole canvas or paper and which forms its orchestration, its architecture’ (quoted in Jack Flam (ed.), Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 130-132).