Press Release

Matisse's Christmas window stars in Tate Modern's landmark show

Matisse's Christmas window stars in Tate Modern's landmark show

Henri Matisse’s celebrated stained-glass window, Nuit de Noel and its maquette will be shown together for the first time in the UK in the most comprehensive exhibition of Matisse’s late works ever held, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens at Tate Modern on17 April 2013. 

London is the first to host this landmark show before it travels to theMuseum of Modern Art in New Yorkfrom14 October 2014 to17 April 2015. The delicacy of the paper cut-outs is such that it is unlikely that these works will ever be brought together in this way again. 

The Christmas window was commissioned by Life magazine in January 1952 for celebrations at Rockefeller Center at the end of that year. Matisse made a maquette of cut-and-pasted paper for the work in which a large star appears in Christmas sky over a landscape of organic shapes.

In March 1952, the finished maquette was given over to the stained-glass craftsman who had made Matisse’s Chapel windows at Vence, Paul Bony, and four months later the nearly 11ft high window was completed. On 8 December 1952, the window arrived in New York and was displayed in time for Christmas Eve in the reception of the Time-Life Building at RockefellerCenter.  On the occasion, Matisse wrote to Alfred H Barr Jr, the Director of Museum Collections at the Museum of Modern Art, that the ‘maquette for a stained-glass window and the window itself are like a musical score and its performance by an orchestra.’ In June 1953, Time gave both the window and the maquette to the Museum of Modern Art. Neither the glass nor the maquette have ever been seen in the UK before.

In celebration of this remarkable work, Tate has chosen to feature the cut-out design for the maquette as the image for its 2013 Director’s Christmas card.

Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate and the exhibition’s co-curator said: ‘Matisse described the maquette for Nuit de Noel as being like a musical score, while the stained glass window was like a symphony orchestra. Nuit de Noel is an astonishing creation celebrating the ‘joy of life’ by an artist in his eighties.’

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is curated by Nicholas Cullinan, Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Nicholas Serota, Director with Flavia Frigeri, Assistant Curator at Tate; and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York by Jodi Hauptman, Curator, Department of Drawings, and Karl Buchberg, Senior Conservator, with Samantha Friedman, Assistant Curator. The exhibition at Tate Modern is sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch with additional support from Hanjin Shipping.

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

17 April – 7 September 2014  (Press view: 14 April 2014)
Sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch with additional support from Hanjin Shipping
Tate Modern Open daily from 10.00–18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday
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Twitter @tate #Matisse

See also

Tate Modern Exhibition

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

17 Apr – 7 Sep 2014
The most comprehensive exhibition devoted to Henri Matisse's paper cut-outs at Tate Modern from April 2014
Tate Paper

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A celebrated sequence of slow-motion footage of Matisse’s working hand fascinated philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty and psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. This ...


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Tate’s much-loved artwork The Snail by Henri Matisse will be reunited with its companion works in Tate Modern’s ...

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Matisse Picasso

11 May – 18 Aug 2002
Matisse Picasso exhibition brings together major masterpieces by the two giants at Tate Modern 11 May to 18 August 2002

Editor notes

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is one of the world’s biggest corporate supporters of the arts. The company works with thousands of organisations globally through sponsorship, education and community art programmes.

‘The arts are an important source for thriving economies with a unique ability to connect communities and enrich society,’ said Andrea Sullivan, head of Corporate Responsibility for Europeand Emerging Markets (ex-Asia) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. ‘Our sponsorship of Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs, will not only provide support for the exhibition of these important works, but will also be integrated with an innovative education project for young people in London’s East End.’

For Bank of America Merrill Lynch press enquiries, please contact Sonali Makanji, Weber Shandwick, +44 (0)20 7067 0349

Hanjin Shipping

Hanjin Shipping is South Korea’s largest shipping company, and ranks among the top ten major shipping carriers in the world. The company has a comprehensive global business network with 4 regional headquarters, 200 overseas branch offices, and 30 local corporations, earning about 90 per cent of its total revenue overseas. Hanjin Shipping is delighted to sponsor Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, and to be part of this unique exhibition with Tate’s diverse audience. Hanjin Shipping sponsor major exhibitions around the world with MoMA, LACMA and MoCA, and see it as a priority to partner with museums in order to bring awareness to art and to support the development of art worldwide.