166
166

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Henri Matisse
JEUNE FILLE EN NOIR
Lote. Vendido 545,000 GBP (Precio de adjudicación con prima del comprador)
SALTAR AL LOTE
166

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Henri Matisse
JEUNE FILLE EN NOIR
Lote. Vendido 545,000 GBP (Precio de adjudicación con prima del comprador)
SALTAR AL LOTE

Details & Cataloguing

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Henri Matisse
1869 - 1954
JEUNE FILLE EN NOIR
signed Henri Matisse (lower right)
oil on canvasboard
40.7 by 32.7cm., 16 by 12 7/8 in.
Painted in Nice in 1919.
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Procedencia

Alphonse Kann, Saint Germain-en-Laye
Confiscated from the above by the Einsatzstab Reichleiter Rosenberg (ERR), Inventory Number 'Unb 343'
Gustav Rochlitz, Paris (received in exchange with the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) on 9th July 1941)
Intended to be sent to Baden-Baden in 1944
Klein, Mlle Levy, Paul Pètrides, & Isidor Rosner, Paris (possibly acquired from Rochlitz)
Christian Zervos, Paris (acquired from Paul Pètrides)
Restituted to the heirs of Alphonse Kann after 1945
Sale: Palais Galliéra, Paris, 16th June 1961, lot 50
Sale: Galerie Motte, Geneva, 12th May 1962, lot 164
Jacques Dubourg, Paris
Stephen Hahn (acquired from the above by 1969)
Private Collection, Italy
Milan, Galleria Brerarte
Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in 1981

Expuesto

Paris, Petit Palais, Les Maîtres de l’Art Indépendant 1895-1937, 1937, no. 39
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Chefs-d'œuvre de Matisse, 1958 (not listed in the catalogue)

Documentación

Activity of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg in France (Consolidated Interrogation Report No. 1). Office of Strategic Services, Art Looting Investigation Unit, APO 413, US Army, 15 August 1945
Gustav Rochlitz (Detailed Interrogation Report No. 4). Office of Strategic Services, Art Looting Investigation Unit, US Army, August 1945
Guy-Patrice & Michel Dauberville, Matisse, Paris, 1995, no. 622, illustrated p. 1211

Nota del catálogo

Epitomising Matisse’s fascination with interior scenes, texture and a destabilising perspective, Jeune fille en noir, is a remarkable example of the painter’s ongoing exploration of light and space. Painted in 1919 in Nice, this phase in Matisse’s career is a continuation of his pictorial concerns initially explored during his first stay in 1917-18. Residing at the Hôtel de la Méditerranée during this first sojourn marked a stark transition in his art. The unique quality of the light and relative isolation of the French Riviera provided the artist with the ideal environment in which to re-engage with figurative elements in his painting and, from 1917 to 1932, Henri Matisse made annual expeditions to the South of France. These increasingly extensive trips ‘may have begun as a symbolic return to the adventures, challenges, and yearnings of his earlier years’ (Henri Matisse: The Early Years in Nice, 1986-87, (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1986, p. 26).

No longer was Matisse preoccupied with the radical experimentation and predominant use of sombre colours that dominated his art from 1913. Bathed in the serene sunshine of the South, he now increasingly sought to achieve a dialogue between abstraction and figuration; ‘he now wanted two-dimensional space to create effects which had so far been produced by three-dimensional space. It was no longer a question of skilfully combining realism with abstraction, but of getting abstraction to simulate realism’ (Pierre Schneider in ‘The Richness of Nothingness’, Matisse, Paris, 1984, p. 508). Matisse’s paintings of the 1920s are largely devoted to the subject of a female figure in an opulently decorated interior setting. Such compositions allowed Matisse to explore the spatial dynamism of the many shapes and patterns found in the furnishings of the room and their visual harmony in relation to the sitter. 

The sitter in the present work is the charming Antoinette Arnoud, one of Matisse's favourite models at the time, she was 'nineteen years old, pale, slender and supple with a quintessentially urban, indoor chic and the kind of responsive intelligence Matisse required at this point from a model' (H. Spurling, Matisse The Master, A Life of Henri Matisse, The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, New York, 2005, p.223). Antoinette would feature on a large number of paintings and drawings and discussing his paintings from this period and the role of his sitters, Matisse wrote: ‘My models, human figures, are never just 'extras' in an interior. They are the principal theme in my work. I depend entirely on my model, whom I observe at liberty, and then I decide on the pose which best suits her nature. When I take a new model, I intuit the pose that will best suit her from her un-self-conscious attitudes of repose, and then I become the slave of that pose.' (quoted in Ernst Gerhard Güse, Henri Matisse, Drawings and Sculpture, Munich, 1991, p. 22).

In Jeune fille en noir, Matisse succeeds through contrasting elements and hues in playing on the perception of perspective. Through the use of the iconic cherry-red flooring – an ambiguous figurative element which appears in his works from 1919, Matisse challenges the viewer as to its figurative use within the composition: to create depth from a perceived angle or to faithfully reproduce a decorative surface. The sitter, a young lady, is depicted in a delicate dress composed of black and subtle hues of grey highlights. Such dominance of the colour black and the intensity of its hues were explored in Marguerite à la toque bleue from 1918 in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (Fig. 2). In Jeune fille en noir the sitter is placed on a bright ochre sofa placed at the corner of a room, the sitter's hand subtly touches the crimson and golden curtain to the upper left part of the composition. Effectively tilting the young girl to the foreground of the painting, she is almost tumbling forwards towards the viewer. This pictorial instability creates a sense of internal movement, shifting a static representation of a seated sitter, into an active, visually participatory, scene.  Matisse strategically arranges the composition to maximize the visual dynamism of the scene, highlighting, with a touch of Prussian blue on the sitter’s feet, a visual accord within the whole of the interior dominated by the intensity of the predominant colours of red and black. Through the use of black, no longer relegated to the confines of outlines, the sitter emerges from the background. The outline of each element is overlapped and gently caressing another, and through this interweaving of imagery, Matisse has created a seamlessness to the composition through its harmony of contrasts.

The present work was in the prized collection of Alphonse Kann in St Germain-en-Laye. Born in Vienna in 1870, Kann was a prominent collector who amassed one of the most important collections spanning from African art, Aubusson tapestries, to the most avant-garde of modern art. An elegant dandy, he was friends with Marcel Proust and is thought to have inspired the character of Charles Swann in À la recherche du temps perdu. Kann was forced to escape Nazi persecution heading to London in 1938, leaving behind his collection which was looted by the Einsatzstab Reichleiter Rosenberg (ERR) in 1940. The present work was one of eighteen other Modern works deemed as Entartete Kunst (degenerate art) and received in exchange of a 16th century depiction of Titian’s daughter to the ERR by the Parisian art dealer Gustav Rochlitz. Modern art works were generally dismissed as degenerate and sold for the more traditional Old Master paintings. Rochlitz subsequently sold five of these Modern works, of which the present painting was part, to the art dealers Klein, Mlle Levy, Paul Pètrides, and Isidor Rosner, and eventually, the painting was restituted to the heirs of Alphonse Kann after the Second World War.

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