Large Seated Nude

Henri Matisse, French, 1869 - 1954

Date:
1922-29

Medium:
Bronze

Dimensions:
31 x 33 x 14 inches (78.7 x 83.8 x 35.6 cm)

Copyright:
© Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (RS), New York

Curatorial Department:
Modern and Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1960-146-1

Credit Line:
Gift of R. Sturgis and Marion B. F. Ingersoll, 1960

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Label:
Henri Matisse’s most ambitious sculpture of the 1920s, Large Seated Nude is part of the matrix of drawings, lithographs, and paintings that the artist made of the model Henriette Darricarrère posed with raised arms and with her left foot hooked casually behind her knee. A crystallization of the artist’s successive reactions to the model’s relaxed pose, the sculpture transforms her body into a tautly structured abstract composition. Even more than in his earlier sculptures, Matisse here treats the human figure as an arrangement of discrete parts, allowing himself great liberty to consider separately the variety of possible views in three dimensions.

Additional information:
  • PublicationTwentieth-Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art

    Matisse's paintings far outnumber his sculptures, but the interaction between his work in two dimensions and three dimensions became essential to his creations in both mediums. Not only did he paint and sculpt before the live model, but he also represented his own sculptures in his paintings and then borrowed the poses of figures he painted to derive new sculptural compositions. As the artist described it, moving back and forth between painting and sculpture allowed him to refine his ideas and condense the sensations on which his work depended: "I took up sculpture because what interested me in painting was a clarification of my ideas. . . . It was done for the purposes of organization, to put order into my feelings, and find a style to suit me. When I found it in sculpture, it helped me in my painting. It was always in view of a complete possession of my mind, a sort of hierarchy of all my sensations, that I kept working in the hope of finding an ultimate method."1

    Seated Nude is Matisse's most ambitious sculpture of the 1920s. It is part of the matrix of drawings, lithographs, and paintings that Matisse made of the model Henriette Darricarrère posed with raised arms and with her left foot hooked casually behind her knee. A crystallization of the artist's successive reactions to the model's relaxed pose, the sculpture transforms her body into a tautly structured abstract composition. Even more than in his earlier sculptures, Matisse treated the human figure as an arrangement of discrete parts, allowing himself great liberty to consider separately the variety of possible views in three dimensions. Each surface of the model's elongated torso, diminutive head, and weighty limbs is articulated as a succession of planes carving space. The seams and cuts on the surface of the sculpture, evidence of the artist's working process, both absorb light and reflect it, adding complexity to the way the sculpture engages its surrounding space. Dramatically cantilevered from its small base, Seated Nude projects a confident balance of its parts, subordinating anatomical reality to a powerful sculptural whole. Twentieth Century Painting and Sculpture in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2000), p. 58.

    Note:
    1) Jean Guichard-Meili, Matisse, translated by Caroline Moorehead (New York: Praeger, 1967), p. 168.

Provenance

With Curt Valentin, New York, acquired from the artist, 1948; sold to R. Sturgis Ingersoll (1891-1973), Philadelphia, August 13, 1948 [1]; gift of R. Sturgis and Marion B. F. Ingersoll to PMA, 1960. 1. See letter from Ingersoll to Anne d'Harnoncourt, September 3, 1968 (PMA archives, copy in curatorial file), stating that this cast was in Henri Matisse's drawing room, from whom Valentin purchased it for Ingersoll when it became available.