Danseuse Étendue au Divan [Mains À la Nuque]

Henri Matisse
Danseuse Étendue au Divan [Mains À la Nuque]

An original hand-signed Henri Matisse Lithograph print.

(Dancer Stretched Out on the Couch [Hands at the Back of her Neck])


Original lithograph printed in black ink on China paper.

Signed in pencil lower right Henri Matisse.

A fine impression of the definitive state from the edition of only five on this paper, numbered in pencil also lower right (there were 130 numbered impressions printed on Arches wove paper, 15 numbered impressions printed on japan paper, and 8 impressions printed on Arches wove and annotated “H.C.”, for an overall edition of 158). One of ten lithographs issued in the album Dix Danseuses, published by the Galerie d’Art Contemporaine de Paris, 1927, preface by Waldemer George.

Catalog: Duthuit-Matisse 484; Fribourg 439.

10 15/16 x 18 1/16 inches

In 1919-20 Matisse had worked for the Ballet Russes for the first time and designed the costumes and décor for a ballet version of Stravinky’s opera The Nightingale. There was another production in 1925. Frequent contact with Serge Diaghilev and Leonide Massine introduced Matisse to the atmosphere of the theater and, in addition, he was an assiduous concertgoer in Monte Carlo: “on Friday afternoon . . . I give myself some time off. It is the day when concerts are held in Monte Carlo,” he wrote to his friend Camoin. The organizers of the Ballet Russes in Monte Carlo tried again and again to persuade Matisse to collaborate with them. Oddly enough, he did not agree again until 1939, when he worked on the ballet Rouge et Noir from Dimitri Shostakovitch’s First Symphony.

Matisse had come to know Henriette, his model, in the “Studios de la Victorine,” and for him she also embodied the world of dance. In 1927 the first and only volume of graphics by Matisse,
Dix Danseuses, was published by Duchâtel in Paris on various qualities of paper (China, Japan, and Arches). Unfortunately, the order in which the prints came into being is not known. They were produced over one or two years. The most we can assume is that the sequence of the line drawings and the sequence of the prints modeled in half-tones form a block, since at that time Matisse often used to move from a realistic concept to a free, improvised interpretation.

The dancer is never shown dancing, but she creates a movement of her own in the succession of poses. She is presented in delicately graduated tones of light and shade or in rapid outlines where the wealth of material from the tutu plays constantly about her body. The tutu breaks the flow of the body’s lines, extending decoratively into the room but suggesting the dynamics of dance in the flying material. These are resting poses that capture the dancer’s profession and inner physical tension in its graceful elegance. The tutu and the pose both serve to bring out these dynamics and to lend weight to the artists comment: “I feel the connections between things that delight me.”