The Essence of Line: Selected Prints 1900-1950

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Odalisque, Brasero et coup de fruits, 1929 Lithograph Ap 10 15 16 X 14 13 16 In © Courtesy of Marlborough Fine Art
The Essence of Line: Selected Prints 1900-1950

6 Albemarle Street
London W1S 4BY
United Kingdom
December 4th, 2013 - January 11th, 2014
Opening: December 3rd, 2013 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

+44 (0)20 7629 5161
Mon-Fri 10-5:30; Sat 10-4


Marlborough is delighted to present this exhibition of Matisse prints. The exhibition first opened at Marlborough New York in September this year, and is the first major survey to take place in New York and London for many years.

The show comprises over 50 prints, many of which are rare examples in various graphic media: etching, drypoint, woodcut, lithography, linocut and pochoir (stencil). As the art historian Marilyn McCully explains in her introductory essay for the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition, “the essence of line in a print, if achieved in the way Matisse wanted, could thus provide all the information that is needed: the presence and character of a model, the definition of spatial relations within a composition, including both interior and exterior views, and details of a particular setting”.

The show and the catalogue are divided into four sections according to print-making media and including the themes of poetry, dance and music. Matisse’s first known print Henri Matisse Etching was made around the turn of the century, and throughout his career he turned his hand to a variety of graphic media. The drypoints and etchings around the time of the First World War, the thick linear aquatint heads of the 1940s and 1950s. The 1920s saw some of his most beautiful and impressive lithographs which include the model either in portrait or reading in a variety of interiors, and the recurring theme of the exotic nude as odalisque. The exhibition culminates in the series of 20 colour pochoirs (stencils) for Jazz (1947). This impressive tour de force was created in the artist’s later years when, as McCully describes in the catalogue “his physical powers declined and he was forced to devise a number of means, including his celebrated cut-outs, with which he could continue producing art”. These cut and pasted design were translated in pochoirs (stencils), thus enabling the artists to draw in colour and create chromatic, rhythmic illustrations.

Many of the prints included in this exhibition are fine impressions in very good condition, and were acquired, in part from the Matisse family collection, including the estate of the artist’s grandson, Pierre-Noel Matisse. Also included are a number of prints which were acquired from the Petiet Estate. Henry Petiet, the connoisseur dealer, bought hundred of prints directly from Matisse with whom he corresponded from 1927 until the time of the artist’s death.

A fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by Marilyn McCully and which includes a print chronology by McCully and Michael Raeburn will be available at the time of the exhibition. Marilyn McCully taught art history at Princeton University from 1978-81 and since then has worked in London as an independent scholar and editor. Michael Raeburn is an independent author, editor, designer and book producer.