Nu assis signed and dated 'Henri Matisse 30' (lower right) pencil on paper 10 x 13in (25.5 x 33cm) Drawn in 1930
PROVENANCE Galerie G. Cramer, Geneva. The Piccadilly Gallery, London. Albert Loeb and Krugier, New York. B.C. Holland Gallery, Chicago. Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago. James Goodman Gallery, New York. Acquired from the above by the present owner in December 1972.
Wanda de Guébriant has kindly confirmed the authenticity of this drawing.
In 1930 Matisse made two visits to the United States, spending time in New York and Pennsylvania, and even journeyed to Tahiti via the San Francisco steamer. He was keen to follow in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin particularly having spent the latter part of the 1920s in thrall to paintings of odalisques and sumptuous interiors reminiscent of North Africa. It was perhaps also an opportunity to discover what the earlier master had experienced before him.
Some historians have noted that Matisse was searching for new forms of artistic inspiration during this period, after decades of wide recognition, with several retrospective exhibitions and steady commercial success. Equally notable in the years leading up to the creation of this drawing are the many storied and confident collectors with whom Matisse was in direct contact: Claribel and Etta Cone of Baltimore, Marjorie and Duncan Phipps, Chester and Maud Dale, to name but a few. Albert Barnes, another great patron, would in the following year commission Matisse to paint a mural entitled La Danse.
The present drawing of seated nude presents a pose very similar to the odalisque painting Figure décorative sur fond ornemental, which Matisse had painted in 1925. As with the painting, this nude figure has abstracted facial features quite evocative of an African mask.