Lot 45
  • 45

Henri Matisse

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
1,314,500 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Henri Matisse
  • Nu aux souliers roses
  • signed H. Matisse (upper right); signed Matisse on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Jean Puy, Paris (acquired from the artist in 1903 until at least 1949)

Katia Granoff, Paris (acquired by 1951)

Paul Haesaerts, Brussels

Georges Daelemans, Uccle & Brussels (acquired in 1956)

Galerie Beyeler, Basel

A European Foundation (acquired from the above in 1981. Sold: Christie's, London, 27th November 1989, lot 25)

Purchased at the above sale


Paris, Grandes Serres, Société des Artistes Indépendants, 19e Exposition, 1903, no. 1670 (titled Étude)

Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Henri Matisse, 1910, no. 16 (titled Étude and as dating from 1902)

Paris, Galerie de France, Les Fauves, 1942, no. 26 (titled Le modèle à contrejour and as dating from 1900)

Lucerne, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Henri Matisse, 1949, no. 23 (titled Négresse and as dating from 1902)

Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Le Fauvisme, 1951, no. 92 (titled Nu)

Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Henri Matisse. Exposition rétrospective, 1956, no. 6

Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Les Fauves, 1962, no. 92, illustrated in the catalogue

Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne & Munich, Haus der Kunst, Le Fauvisme français et les débuts de l'Expressionnisme allemand, 1966, no. 83, illustrated in the catalogue

Mechelen, Cultureel Centrum Burgemeester Antoon Spinoy, Fauvisme in de Europese Kunst, 1969, no. 70, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Paris, Grand Palais, Henri Matisse, 1970, no. 35, illustrated in the catalogue

Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich & Düsseldorf, Städtische Kunsthalle, Henri Matisse, 1982-83, no. 6, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Zurich, Kunsthaus Zürich (on loan 1982-1989)

Basel, Kunstmuseum Basel, Transform. Bild Objekt Skulptur im 20. Jahrhundert, 1992, no. 5, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse - A Retrospective, 1992-3, no. 31, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Mexico, Centro Cultural Arte Contemporaneo, Gustave Moreau y su legado, 1994-95, no. 40, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Miradas sin Tiempo. Dibujos, Pinturas y Esculturas de la Colección Jan y Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2000, no. 206, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Forma. El ideal clásico en el arte moderno, 2001-02, no. 4, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina, Goya bis Picasso. Meisterwerke der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2005, no. 109, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Henri Matisse. Figur Farbe Raum, 2005-06, no. 18, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Munich, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 147, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Baden-Baden, Museum Frieder Burda, Die Skulpturen der Maler, 2008, no. 48, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Vienna, Albertina, Matisse and the Fauves, 2013-14, no. 8, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Alfred H. Barr Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public, New York, 1951, illustrated p. 303 (titled The Model)

Gaston Diehl, Henri Matisse, Paris, 1958, illustrated in colour pl. 14

Massimo Carrà, L'Opera di Matisse dalla rivolta 'fauve' all'intimismo 1904-1928, Milan, 1971, no. 14, illustrated p. 86

Donald E. Gordon, Modern Art Exhibitions 1900-1916, Munich, 1974, listed pp. 66 & 376

John Elderfield, The 'Wild Beasts', Fauvism and its Affinities (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1976, illustrated p. 22

Pierre Schneider, Matisse, London, 1984, mentioned pp. 140 & 148

Jack Flam, Matisse, The Man and His Art 1869-1918, London, 1986, illustrated p. 83

Pierre Schneider, Matisse, Paris, 2002, mentioned p. 168

Catalogue Note

One of an important series of figure paintings that Matisse produced between 1899 and 1901, Nu aux souliers roses is a striking example of the young artist’s work and one that offers a significant insight into his artistic practice at the turn of the century. Combining boldly applied brushwork with strong modelling and clearly defined planes of vivid colour, this work reflects both the great artistic progress Matisse had made prior to 1900, and anticipates the continuing experimentation that would lead to the radical developments of his Fauve works (fig. 3) four years later.

Many of Matisse’s earliest works, particularly whilst under the supervision of Gustave Moreau, are studies after works by celebrated Old Masters, but over the 1890s, as a result of his growing exposure to Impressionist art and artists, Matisse’s work underwent a remarkable transformation. His landscapes and still lifes of this period reflect a growing appreciation of the presence of natural light, with colour becoming an increasingly autonomous force, but it is in the series of figure paintings he produced at the turn of the century (figs. 1 & 2) that his interest in the relationship between colour and form is most apparent.

In 1900 Matisse spent a number of months studying and working under Eugène Carrière at the Académie Carrière where he met many of the artists who would go on to become central figures of the Fauve movement. It was during these months that Matisse painted Nu aux souliers roses and the work’s bold use of colour to create light and shadow through tones of vivid orange, ochre and blue reflects Matisse’s growing mastery of colour. As Alfred H. Barr Jr. notes, ‘his work of this time might well be called proto-fauve. The two best painters who worked with him at that time, Marquet and Derain, both bear witness to Matisse’s position as pioneer. Marquet writes: “We worked, Matisse and I, before the exposition from about 1898 in what was called much later the fauve manner…”’ (A. H. Barr Jr., op. cit., p. 49). Barr goes on to recall that many years later Derain was to draw particular attention to Matisse’s figure studies of this period as examples of proto-fauve work.

Matisse’s growing focus on colour was also influenced by his study and appreciation of Cézanne - in 1898 he purchased a Cézanne canvas of three bathers which would come to take on an almost emblematic significance for him and his wife over the following years. These early works illustrate this influence, building colour in defined, volumetric planes that beautifully render the rugged physicality of the model; as Barr writes: ‘Colour in the early work rarely seems arbitrary or decorative; its intention is always structural. Similarly the design does not move in curves and arabesques but in straight lines, blocks and angles. Matisse clearly has his eye and mind on Cézanne’ (A. H. Barr Jr., ibid., p. 49). Many years later Matisse was to describe Cézanne as a key figure in the ‘rehabilitation’ of colour, writing; ‘From Delacroix to Van Gogh and especially Gauguin, through the Impressionists, who cleared the way, and Cézanne, who gives the definitive impulse and introduces colored volumes, one can follow this rehabilitation of the role of color and the restitution of its emotive power’ (quoted in Jack Flam (ed.), Matisse on Art, Berkeley, 1995, p. 155).

The stark beauty of Nu aux souliers roses also offers us a glimpse of the studio environment in which Matisse and his fellow artists worked. As Jack Flam noted, ‘The forthrightness of the vision behind these paintings, the simplicity of the poses, the restraint from obvious underlining of the model’s psychological state make many of these images very moving, not only because of the intensity with which they are painted but also because of the stark portrayal of the social and psychological conditions of the studio ambience’ (J. Flam, op. cit., p. 85). In the present work Matisse’s vision is unidealised, with the background built up in simple, monochromatic bands of intersecting colour and no attempt made to hide the rudimentary surroundings – he even includes the slippers that the model would have worn to keep her feet warm while she posed in the cold studio. The focus of the work remains emphatically on the colour and form of the central figure powerfully illustrating Matisse’s innovative approach even at this early stage in his artistic career.