On The Block: This Week, Superb Matisse Prints At Christies Online


Christies, the global auction powerhouse, is expanding its online sales with blue-chip collections by masters, offering an opportunity to buy investment grade works of art online. Through November 19, Christies is offering Henri Matisse’s epochal Jazz, a portfolio of twenty prints and one in an ongoing series of selective, highly curated offerings from Christies available exclusively online. At top, Lot 18, Le Lagon, estimated at $8,000-12,000. Below, Lot 2 is Le Cirque, estimated at $12,000-$18.000.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is one of the giants of 20th Century art. In the 1940s and mostly bedridden towards the end of his long career, the master turned exclusively to working with cut paper. “The paper cut-out allows me to draw in color. It is, for me, a matter of simplification. Instead of drawing the contour and filling in the color, one modifying the other… I draw directly into the color, which is all the more controlled in that it is not transposed.” Matisse began creating the images in 1943 at the request of his publisher Tériade, but WWII would hold up publication until 1947.

Almost seven decades later, the images are still alive and fresh, a link between Modern art and the Mid-Century design renaissance that would begin after the war. First conceived as a book about color, the sheets include Matisse’s thoughts expressed in his exquisite penmanship. Below, Lot 20, Le Tobogan is estimated at $7,000-12,000.

We spoke last week with Libia Nahas, the Print and Multiple Specialist at Christies, who was able to reveal a little of the Jazz Suite’s provenance. The owners purchased it from the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York in 1948, not long after it was produced. Pierre was Henri Matisse’s youngest son and would become one of the  most important Modern art dealers in New York following WWII. It has remained with this family ever since and enjoyed over the decades. Below, Lot 12 is La Nageuse Dans l”aquarium, estimated to bring between $10,000-15,000.

The Details: Jazz is a portfolio of twenty pochoir prints– here being sold individully– executed in 1947 by Tériade, Paris in an edition of 250 on 16 5/8 x 25 5/8 inch sheets of Arches paper. Best described as a sophisticated form of stencil, pochoir is demanding and difficult technique developed in France in the 1900s. Go to the catalogue for further information about the indiviual lots and the details of bidding at Christies’ online auctions.

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