Lot 15
  • 15

Henri Matisse

500,000 - 700,000 USD
1,215,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Henri Matisse
  • Océanie, la mer
  • screenprint on linen
Screenprint on linen, 1946-48, signed in ink and numbered 20/30


Zika Ascher, London
On loan from the above to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1950-53
Private Collection, New York
By descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Henri Matisse’s screenprint on linen wall-hanging Océanie, la mer along with its pendant panel, Océanie, le ciel, constitute a pivotal moment in the artist’s use of the cut-out during the last decade of his career. Based on two murals of white paper cut-outs pinned to the beige walls of his Paris apartment on the Boulevard Montparnasse during the summer of 1946 (fig. 1), the panels represent his first use of the cut-out to create works on a monumental scale and are the first works to draw directly on the memories of his 1930 voyage to Tahiti.

Although the textile designer Zika Ascher had proposed a commission for a wall-hanging to Matisse early in 1946, the artist did not initially accept, and the compositions for the Océanie panels began organically, without a final product in mind.

“Matisse had cut out a swallow from a sheet of writing paper and, as it distressed him to tear up this beautiful shape and throw it away…he put it up on this wall, also using it to cover up a stain the sight of which disturbed him. Over the following weeks other shapes were cut out and put up on the same wall.” (Lydia Delectorskaya quoted in Samantha Friedman, “Game and Endgame” in Exh. Cat. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, 2014, p. 126)

By the time Ascher visited Matisse in Paris that summer, the compositions of two distinct panels were complete, and Ascher was tasked with translating the delicate paper cut-outs into screenprint on linen wall-hangings. Developing the massive cut-out panels in screenprint to Matisse’s exacting specifications proved to be a technical challenge and the printed edition of thirty examples of each panel was not completed until 1948.