The female muse has been one of the oldest and most commonly depicted motifs in paintings. While some of these female figures may very well be the artists’ lovers, others simply play an important role in their lives. The upcoming and highly anticipated Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale at Christie’s will be led by Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) painting of one of his two favourite models. The odalisque work carries an estimate of £5-8m and is amongst the most rigorously designed works by the Fauvism leader.
Matisse very frequently employed female models as the subjects of his paintings. Le collier d’ambre famously depicts Hélène, Princess Galitzine, clad in a Persian kaftan, blouse and sash, each done with a meticulous needlework filigree. Hélène Galitzine was an oval-faced, wavy-haired brunette who was introduced to Matisse by a mutual friend, Lydia Delectorskaya.
Lydia helped Matisse in the studio while he was working on the Barnes mural, and was hired in 1934 to take care of the artist’s wife Amélie, who was in very poor health. She soon became indispensable in the studio, and began to model for Matisse, becoming his favourite muse. She was featured in Matisse’s most important painting of 1937, La grande robe bleue et mimosas.
Lydia then introduced Hélène to Matisse who immediately intrigued the artist with her beautiful features. She became his preferred muse until 1939, posing for a series of odalisque paintings Matisse created during early 1937. An example is Robe rouge et tulipes violettes which depicts Hélène full-figured and seated. She also appears together with Lydia in Le chant, the mantelpiece decoration that Matisse created on commission for Nelson Rockefeller in 1938.
Completed in Nice on 1937, Le collier d’ambre is one of the most sought after paintings of Matisse which he created during that banner year as he reinvigorated his art, returning to his fundamentals which he discovered over the course of previous decades. Apart from Le collier d’ambre by Matisse, works by Pablo Picasso and Fernard Léger will also be the highlights of the sale. The top three lots are listed below.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Le collier d’ambre.
Lot no.: 5
Created in: 1937
Size: 61.7 x 45.4 cm
- Paul Rosenberg & Co., Paris & Bordeaux, by 1937.
- Seized from the National Bank of Commerce and Industry, Libourne, on 28 April 1941.
- Transferred by order of the Devisenschutzkommando to the Jeu de Paume, Paris, on 5 September 1941.
- Included in Exchange #18 between the Einstatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg and Gustav Rochlitz, on 21 May 1942.
- Sold by Gustav Rochlitz to Isidor Rosner, Paris.
- M. Nicolas Karjensky, Galerie d’Art Cardo, by whom acquired in 1942.
- M. Albert Dauré, Perpignan, by whom acquired from the above, until at least 1962.
- Anonymous sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 1 November 1978, lot 50A.
- Lefevre Fine Art, London (no. 8585), by whom acquired from the above.
- Marvin M. Mitchelson, Los Angeles.
- Private collection, by 1982.
- The heirs of Paul Rosenberg.
Estimate: £5,000,000 – 8,000,000 (US$6,310,000 – 10,096,000)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Homme et femme nus.
Lot no.: 6
Created in: 1968
Size: 162 x 129.8 cm
- Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henri Kahnweiler), Paris (no. 012899).
- Pace Gallery, New York (no. 4095).
- Acquired from the above by the present owner, in 1973.
Estimate: £10,000,000 – 15,000,000 (US$12,620,000 – 18,930,000)
Fernand Léger (1881-1955). Femme dans un fauteuil.
Lot no.: 8
Created in: 1913
Size: 81 x 100 cm
- Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris.
- Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
- Louis Carré Gallery, New York.
- Saidenberg Gallery, New York.
- Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (no. 8857).
- Richard Feigen Gallery, New York (no. 15430-D).
- Private collection, France.
- Galerie Beyeler, Basel (no. 7831), by whom acquired from the above, on 29 June 1973.
- Acquired from the above by the present owner, in March 1974.
Estimate on request
Auction house: Christie’s London
Sale: Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale
Viewing: 13 June 2019｜10am – 7pm
14 June 2019｜9am – 4:30pm
15 June 2019｜ 12pm – 5pm
16 June 2019｜12pm – 5pm
17 June 2019｜9am – 4pm
18 June 2019｜ 9am – 3pm
Sale date: 18 June 2019｜7pm