MATISSE Henri - Autograph Letter Signed 1934 studying the landscape of Mt. Boron
Henri MATISSE (1869-1954)Autograph Letter Signed (“Henri Matisse“) to “Chère Madame”, possibly a journalist, returning her copy and reminding her of the pleasures of Utelle [near Nice].
1 page 4to in French, Nice, 22 September 1934.
Trans: “I read and reviewed your copy and I permitted myself a few corrections. I have left the passage at the end.
I hope that you had a good journey and that you are comfortably at home – it is the pleasure of returning home, whatever the pleasures found during the holiday might be. Think of the place [main square] at Utelle at 10 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon, embellished by its five or six gossiping women, sitting there as they knit both their stockings and the reputations of their neighbours – while you rush about your business in Paris. In Nice too, nothing changes – I go every day to study a landscape in the forest of Mt. Boron, for Itaque. I intend to return to Paris at the end of the month and will have great pleasure in seeing you. . . .”
In a postscript, he adds: “I went to see C. Levy yesterday – we spoke of you. [Her health] is neither better nor worse.”
The landscape which stood in for Ithaca (here “Itaque”) would have been revealed in Matisse’s illustrations for James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in a limited, signed, edition of 1000 copies in 1935. It would appear that Matisse never read Joyce’s book, but created his illustrations from Homer’s text which had, after all he felt, served as a template for Joyce.
The identity of Matisse’s correspondent is unclear, but it would be logical to assume that the lady in question had conducted an interview with the artist and the “copy” which he corrected was the result.
The phrase “La conviction est la volonté humaine à sa plus grande puissance” (a quotation from Balzac) has been typed, with occasional variations, 21 times on the verso of the letter, fortunately with no visible show-through.
There is a very tiny tear at the central fold, apart from which the letter is in excellent condition.
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