Lot 1: HENRI MATISSE, (FRENCH, 1869-1954), "CORBEILLE DE BEGONIAS I"
December 6, 2016
Philadelphia, PA, USALive Auction
"CORBEILLE DE BEGONIAS I"
1938, pencil signed, dated ''23/8 38,'' inscribed ''Bon á tirer'' and dedicated ''á Jean-Gabriel Daragnès avec mes remerciements cordiaux'' (presumably one of seven trial proofs before the edition of 25 plus 5 artist''s proofs), with wide margins. Linoleum cut on wove paper with partial watermark ''VM France.''
image: 7 13/16 x 9 in. (19.7 x 22.8cm)
sheet: 15 1/8 x 15 5/8 in. (38.3 x 39.7cm)
We are grateful to Wanda de Guébriant for her assistance in cataloguing this work.
With the palest light-, mat and time staining, a few soft handling creases, a pin-prick rust colored stain verso showing through as a 5mm faint circular stain to the right of the dedication. minor surface soiling in the margins and verso. At the extreme edges of the sheet, each side with four or five minute pinprick holes wtih attendant rust-colored tiny stains (consistent with registration marks). At the left side of the sheet, these are torn-through or are losses each approx. 3-4mm. The right sheet edge shows one of those torn through as a 3mm loss at lower right. The top sheet edge with a 1/4-in. vertical tear at center and a 4mm loss to the right. There is a 1 x 1/4-in. area of uneven paper fibers at the right side of the upper margin edge. This may be rubbing or an old repair. The lower sheet edges with two horizontal losses each approx 5 x 10mm. With a 7mm diagonal cut in the lower right margin corner, a few small foxmarks and soiling verso.
Descriptions provided in both printed and on-line catalogue formats do not include condition reports. The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Interested bidders are strongly encouraged to request a condition report on any lots upon which they intend to bid, prior to placing a bid. All transactions are governed by Freeman's Conditions of Sale.
Jean-Gabriel Daragnès was a master printer and engraver as well as publisher of books. In 1938 and 1939, he and Matisse worked together extensively on an ultimately unrealized edition of ''Les Fleurs du Mal.'' Although unrelated to this project, the present work and its affectionate dedication to Daragnès date from the time of this collaboration and mutual admiration.
Composed at summer''s end in 1938, a pot of Begonias may have served as a meditation on simple pleasures and was executed in a medium that was both comfortable and much loved by the artist. During this anxious time just before the eruption of World War II, many artists had begun stockpiling painting materials knowing that resources soon would be scarce. Matisse however, was likely comforted by his genuine love of making prints and glad for the work. Illustrating books required less creative energy in that a narrative was provided, and yet the work fully occupied the famously hardworking and prolific artist. Indeed, a few months after the war began he wrote, "I hope I shall start painting again soon, but that overwhelms me so- I have to invent and that takes great effort for which I must have something in reserve."1
For prints of this period, linoleum engraving was the print medium usually chosen by the artist. Clearly Matisse appreciated the senstive nature of the form which responded readily to nuances of artistic touch. It was, he said, "a true medium predestined for the painter-illustrator ... I have often thought that this very simple medium is comparable to a violin with its bow: a surface, a gouge - four taut strings and a tuft of horsehair. The gouge, like the bow, directly reflects the engraver''s sensitivity . . . the least distraction during the drawing of a line brings, involuntarily, a slight pressure from the fingers to the gouge, which adversely affects the line. Likewise, one has only to tense slightly the fingers holding the bow in order for the violin''s sound to change its character - soft becomes loud."2
1. Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public, (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1951) p. 256.
2. Henri Matisse, "Comment j''ai fait mes livres," in Anthologie du livre illustre par les peintres et sculpteurs de l''Ecole de Paris (Geneva: Editions Albert Skira, 1946) p. xxiv.