Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Study for Song

Artist:
Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice)
Date:
1938
Medium:
Charcoal on paper
Dimensions:
25 3/4 x 20 in. (65.4 x 50.8 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Accession Number:
2002.456.45
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2016 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
In 1934 Nelson Rockefeller commissioned the architect Wallace K. Harrison to redesign an apartment on Fifth Avenue for his growing family. By 1938 Rockefeller had acquired space on two additional floors of the building, where Harrison created a living room nearly forty-seven feet long, paneled in walnut with Rococo-inspired cutouts for doorframes and window frames. Rockefeller commissioned painted surrounds—one by Matisse, the other by Léger—for the fireplaces at either end. The furnishings were supplied by the French decorator Jean-Michel Frank, who collaborated with the sculptor Alberto Giacometti and the illustrator Christian Bérard.

Matisse’s final overmantel painting portrayed four female figures interacting in pairs; this study for its top section depicts two women listening to a song. The drawing was executed during the early stages of preparation of the decorative scheme, before Matisse began working on the canvas (which he completed in Paris and sent to New York for installation). The composition emanates the atmosphere of a civilized, sheltered interior, with the protagonists engaged in a dreamlike pastime. The figures are defined through the use of an arabesque line, gracefully curving against the more geometric lattice background of armchairs and strongly emphasized rhododendron leaves.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): etude pour la décoration/ de Mr. Nelson Rockefeller/ Henri Matisse/ 10/38
the artist (1938–d. 1954; his estate, Paris, 1955; to P. Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (1955–d. 1989); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)

Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture," April 3–May 9, 1948, no. 144.

Nice. Galerie des Ponchettes. "Henri Matisse," January–March 1950, no. 11 (drawings section).

Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Henri Matisse: Dessins et sculpture," May 29–September 7, 1975, no. 105.

Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. "Henri Matisse: Dessins et sculpture/ Tekeningen en sculpturen," September 27–October 26, 1975, no. 96.

Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz. "Henri Matisse, 1869–1954," November 16, 1995–February 18, 1996, no. 64.

New York. Pierpont Morgan Library. "New York Collects: Drawings and Watercolors, 1900–1950," May 20–August 29, 1999, no. 11.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, Part 2," September 28, 2004–January 30, 2005, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Selections from The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, Part 3," February 15–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.

Christian Zervos. "Dessins récents de Henri Matisse." Cahiers d'art 14, nos. 1–4 (1939), p. 16, ill.

René Micha. "La 'creative method' de Matisse." Art International 19 (October 15, 1975), pp. 59–60, ill.

Lydia Delectorskaya. L'apparente facilité: Henri Matisse, peintures de 1935–1939. Paris, 1986, pp. 32, 278–87, ill. p. 282, illustrates related works, including the finished decoration.

Gilles Néret. Matisse. [Paris], 1991, p. 198, fig. 290.

Louise Nicholson. "A Man of Infinite Taste: The Met has Bagged a Major Treasure in the Pierre Matisse Collection." Apollo 160 (October 2004), p. 85.

Magdalena Dabrowski in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), pp. 24–25, ill. (color).

Magdalena Dabrowski in The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 109–10, 162, ill. (color).



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