Matisse lithograph for ‘Poésies Antillaises’ drawn circa 1945 but posthumously printed and published in Paris in 1972 by Mourlot. Printed on Velin d’arches filigrane pape, this is one of 250 copies. As this lithograph was printed as part of a book, there is a line of text on the reverse of the sheet, this cannot be seen from the front of the image. In excellent condition.
Sheet size 383cm x 292mm (13 x 8.5 inches)
In 1945, following the success of the series of lithographs that he had drawn, inspired by Reverdy’s poetry under the title ‘Visages’, Matisse began working with several exotic models for the illustrations of an ambitious suite of lithographs that he hoped to do in homage to his friend, the poet John-Antoine Nau.
Nau’s poetry took its themes from voyages in the Antilles and in particular to Martinique where the facial sculpture of women from the Islands, with their exoticism and richness, was a great inspiration. Matisse first met him with Signac many years before in 1905, and had great admiration for his poetry.
Matisse completed and proofed all the stones for the Poésies Antillaises series in 1945/46. However for some reason the actual edition of the album was never pulled at that time. The work was finally published 18 years later by Mourlot, who scrupulously followed both Matisse’s maquettes and final corrected proofs.
Poésies Antillaises is a beautiful example of the extraordinary gift for drawing, the ability to incorporate and to express so much through line reduced to its simplest form, which was one of Matisse’s greatest legacies to 20th century art.