Lot 6
  • 6

Henri Matisse

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
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  • Henri Matisse
  • Nu accroupi devant un aquarium (Nu aux poissons rouges)
  • Signed Henri Matisse (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 8 3/4 by 10 3/4 in.
  • 22.2 by 27.3 cm


Pierre Matisse, New York

Miss Nelle Mullen, Merion, Pennsylvania

Samuel Freeman, Philadelphia (acquired in November 1967)

Heinz Berggruen, Berlin (acquired in 1973)

Stephen Hahn, New York (acquired in 1979)

Acquired from the above in 1984


Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Henri Matisse, 1922, no. 26 (?)


Pierre Schneider, Matisse, New York, 1984, illustrated p. 352

Guy-Patrice & Michel Dauberville, Matisse, Paris, 1995, vol. II, no. 525, illustrated p. 1077

Hilary Spurling, Matisse the Master, A Life of Henri Matisse, The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, New York, 2005, illustrated in color pl. 22

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1922, Nu accroupi devant un aquarium is a gem-like interior scene from Matisse’s early Nice period. The composition is centered around the figure of Henriette Darricarrère, Matisse’s favorite model of this era, who sits comfortably on an ornately patterned carpet, her body adorned only with a necklace and bracelet. In front of her sit an aquarium containing goldfish, a favorite early motif of the artist, depicted in one of his most famous compositions, Le Poisson rouge.

Matisse established a permanent residence at 1 Place Charles-Félix in Nice in 1921 and his third-floor apartment and studio in this eighteenth-century building offered him magnificent views of both the town and the Promenade des Anglais along the sea front. Attracted to the rich atmosphere of this coastal town, the artist spent much of the subsequent decades here, producing some of the most iconic works of his career. While in some of these works Matisse offers a glimpse of the resort and the sea beyond, often through a balcony or an open window, he also portrayed his models in a closed indoor setting. The intimacy of this arrangement allowed the artist to focus on the human form and to incorporate complex patterns into his compositions.

Jack Cowart described Matisse’s studio at 1 Place Charles-Félix: "A densely and strangely patterned wallpaper and frescoed ceiling decorated the room. Matisse further amplified this by installing his paintings and drawings as well as mirrors, reproductions of Michelangelo drawings, and items from his own collection of ethnic masks, fabric hangings, and paintings, notably works of Courbet. Matisse now had large demountable frames that would support the selected decorative fabrics he used as backdrops. In effect, the artist had a portable theater in these spaces. In the larger room, with his sets, models, and costumes, he could focus toward the interior of the room" (Henri Matisse: The Early Years in Nice, 1916-1930 (exhibition catalogue), National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C, 1986-87, pp. 30 & 32).