Henri Matisse 1869-1954
N06146 Nu couché, 2me Etat
(Reclining Nude, II) 1927
Inscribed 'NG' and founder's stamp 'CIRE | G.VALSUANI | PERDUE' on back of left elbow
Bronze, 11 1/8 x 19 ½ x 5 7/8 (28.3 x 49.5 x 15) on marble base; height including base 12 ½ (32)
Purchased from Gérald Cramer (Knapping Fund) 1953
Prov: With Gérald Cramer, Geneva (purchased from the artist 1952)
Lit: Alfred H. Barr, Jr., Matisse: his Art and his Public (New York 1951), pp.217-8, 545, repr. p.457 under the incorrect title 'Reclining Nude, III'; Albert E. Elsen, The Sculpture of Henri Matisse (New York 1972), pp.155-9, repr. p.156
The odalisque-like pose first appeared in reverse (body lying to the right instead of to the left) in paintings such as 'The Joy of Life' 1905-6 and 'The Blue Nude' 1907, and in the sculptures 'Reclining Figure with Chemise' 1906 and 'Reclining Nude, I' 1907.
About twenty years later, Matisse took up the pose again this way round in this sculpture and in another related piece 18.5cm high in which the body is set lower, the breasts and hips flattened out and the arms diminished. When exhibited at the Maison de la Pensée Française in 1950, they were entitled respectively 'Reclining Nude, III' and 'Reclining Nude, II'. The following year, however, in reply to a questionnaire from Alfred H. Barr, Jr., the artist stated definitely that the present work was the earlier and should be listed as 'II'. It is in fact much closer in design to 'Reclining Nude, I'; also this sequence shows a progressive abstraction in keeping with that of the series of reliefs 'The Back'. Elsen dates the present work 1927 and the later version 1929. A photograph of Matisse at work on 'Reclining Nude, III' in his studio at Nice is reproduced in the exhibition catalogue Henri Matisse, Galerien Thannhauser, Berlin-Lucerne, 1930, and is stated to have been taken in 1929.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.499, reproduced p.499