69

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

|
New York

Henri Matisse
1869 - 1954
LE PEINTRE
Signed Henri Matisse (lower left)
Oil on canvas
23 1/2 by 29 in.
59.7 by 73.6 cm
Painted in 1923.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (acquired from the artist on June 12, 1923)

Henri Canonne, Paris (acquired from the above on July 19, 1923)

Sam Salz, Inc., New York

M. Knoedler & Co., New York

Robert Lehman, New York

Private Collection, New York (by descent from the above)

Anita Friedman Fine Arts Ltd., New York

Acquired from the above on June 12, 1991

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Henri Matisse, 1924, no. 6 (titled Le peintre et son modèle)

Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Henri Matisse, 1931, no. 100

Literature

Elie Faure, Jules Romains, Charles Vildrac and Léon Werth, Henri Matisse, Paris, 1923, illustrated pl. 23 (titled Le Bord du ruisseau)

Arsène Alexandre, La Collection Canonne, Paris, 1930, illustrated p. 113

Cahiers d'Art, nos. 5-6, Paris, 1931, fig. 75, illustrated p. 305

Albert C. Barnes and Violette de Mazia, The Art of Henri Matisse, New York, 1933, no. 146, illustrated

Mario Luzi and Massimo Carrà, L’opera di Matisse dalla rivolta ‘fauve’ all’intimismo 1904-1928, Milan, 1971, no. 397, illustrated p. 102

Pierre Schneider, Massimo Carra and Xavier Deryng, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Matisse (1904-1928), Paris, 1982, no. 397, illustrated p. 102

Guy Patrick and Michel Dauberville, Henri Matisse, vol. 2, Paris, 1995, no. 595, illustrated p. 1173

Catalogue Note

This charming picture of the artist painting his model en plein air was completed while Matisse was working in the south of France.  The climate and light of the Provençal region were perfect conditions for painting outdoors, and Matisse would occasionally venture out of his studio and take advantage of the favorable weather (see fig. 1).  In Le Peintre, a canvas from the late Spring of 1923, we see Matisse’s own image in the lower left of the composition, while his model, presumably Henriette Darricarère, poses before him.  The fresh, open-air setting of this picture is in sharp contrast to the interior scenes that Matisse had painted only few weeks earlier, and the techniques that he uses to render the landscape capture the palpable details of the atmosphere.  In this picture, as in similar out-door pictures from these years (see fig. 2), Matisse applies his colors selectively, choosing cool green tones that are offset by dabs of black.  Although the model is seated perfectly still, the natural world around her appears to be in motion.  The branches of the trees, painted with sweeping diagonal lines, converge in the center of the composition, and the cross-hatched brushstrokes of green paint create the illusion of a breeze blowing through the grass and leaves.  As a whole, the composition recalls some of the best plein-air paintings of the 19th century avant-garde (see fig. 3). 

The present picture, one from a select group of open-air paintings completed during the summer of 1923, is the only painting from these months in which Matisse depicts himself in the composition.  The inclusion is perhaps a reference to the fact that, despite the ideal setting and the presence of the lovely model, Matisse depended upon his art for his livelihood.   We are reminded in this picture and in other self-referential compositions (see fig. 4) that the act of painting was work.   Matisse’s models of this period recalled that the artist devoted himself completely to his profession, often painting for long stretches throughout the day and sometimes without even a break for lunch.   Hilary Spurling tells us that Matisse’s wife back in Paris resented her husband’s absence from the family and considered his prolonged stays in the Midi to be self-indulgent.  In a defensive letter to his wife that dates from around the time he was working on Le peintre, Matisse was quick to remind her that his seclusion was a necessity for the family’s financial well-being.  In the second volume of her biography on the artist, Spurling recounts this episode: 

"Matisse’s isolation was more nearly complete than it had ever been before in these years when for long periods he cut himself off from even the support of his family. 'You say I’m leading a nice peaceful existence down here,' he wrote when his wife reproached him in the autumn of 1923 for leaving her to cope along with the turmoil of family life, '– don’t forget that my storms take place in my work, which is the rudder that steers our whole house'” (Hilary Spurling, Matisse the Master, A Life of Henri Matisse, The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, New York, 2005, p. 256).

 

On June 12, Matisse sent this canvas, along with another Provençal landscape and an interior scene of two female musicians, to his dealer Bernheim-Jeune in Paris.  All three pictures were purchased one week later by the Parisian pharmacologist Henri Canonne.  Canonne had an impressive collection of Impressionist paintings, and this scene was perfectly suited to his taste for plein-air painting.

 

 

Fig. 1, Matisse painting en plein air near Nice, Spring 1921

 

Fig. 2, Henri Matisse, Le thé dans le jardin, 1919, oil on canvas, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

 

Fig. 3, Edouard Manet, Monet peignant dans son atelier, 1874, oil on canvas, Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich

 

Fig. 4, Henri Matisse, Le peintre et son modèle: Intérieur d’atelier, 1918-1921, oil on canvas, Private Collection, New York

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening

|
New York