Lot 17
  • 17

Henri Matisse

1,200,000 - 1,800,000 USD
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  • Henri Matisse
  • Tête de femme (Lorette)
  • Signed Henri Matisse (upper right)
  • Oil on panel
  • 8 5/8 by 6 1/8 in.
  • 21.9 by 15.5 cm


Paul Guillaume, Paris

M. Knoedler & Co., New York (acquired from the above in 1928)

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, New York (acquired from the above in 1928) Mr. & Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III, New York (by descent from the above)

John T. Dorrance, Jr., Pennsylvania (sold: Sotheby's, New York, October 18, 1989, lot 42)

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Galerie Georges Petit, Exposition Henri Matisse, 1931, no. 34

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse, 1931, no. 38, illustrated in the catalogue (titled Girl in a Turban)

Providence, Rhode Island School of Design, Henri Matisse, 1931, no. 17


Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public, New York, 1951, illustrated p. 414 (titled Femme au turban)

Mario Luzzi & Massimo Carra, L'Opera di Matisse dalla rivolta 'fauve' all'intimismo 1904-1928, Milan, 1971, no. 222, illustrated p. 95 (titled Donna con turbante)

Catalogue Note

Models were hard to come by in World War I Paris. However, at the recommendation of fellow artist Georgette Sembat, Matisse was introduced to an Italian woman named Lorette. She began to model for him in late 1916 and in the course of their year-long association she would feature in some fifty canvases. Tête de femme (Lorette) dates from the first few months of Lorette and Matisse's association. Over the course of their time together, Lorette would dramatically influence the artist's work.  "It was Lorette who liberated (or was liberated by) Matisse," writes Hilary Spurling, "Together they embarked on a series of experiments that would open up a new direction in his work for another decade or more" (H. Spurling, Matisse the Master. A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, New York, 2005, p. 198). Lorette was playful in the studio, donning and removing various costumes and accouterments, assuming varied poses and playing with different props. "...He responded to Lorette's expert lead as spontaneously as a dancer taking to the floor. She released in him an observant gaiety and speedy, casual attack suppressed in years of strenuous sacrificial effort. He painted her energetically from odd angles and in exotic outfits, but mostly he returned to her simplest post, seating her facing him in a plain, long sleeved top and improvising endlessly inventive rhythmic variations on the central them of her strong features, heart-shaped face and the black ropes of her hair" (ibid., pp. 200-01).

The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Wanda de Guébriant.