France, forgotten Matisse work rediscovered after more than 100 years. It will go up for auction

A forgotten Henri Matisse work rediscovered: it was painted in 1918 at the beginning of the artist's Nice sojourn. It will go up for auction in March.

A forgotten Henri Matisse canvas has reappeared in France: it is La Villa Bleue, a 1918 work made in Nice, part of a series of five paintings depicting the same subject, and which had never before been exhibited in public. The work is important because it is at the beginning of Matisse’s Nice period.The painting will be offered for sale by the Millon house in an auction to be held March 9-10. Estimate: between 150 and 200,000 euros.

Henri Matisse arrived in Nice in December 1917. He was immediately fascinated by the southern light and its silver tones. “When I realized that every morning I would see this light again,” Matisse had this to say, “I could not believe my happiness. I decided not to leave Nice and lived there practically my whole existence.” Despite the war, Matisse did not stop painting and continued his research on light, which he began in Saint Tropez in 1904 with Paul Signac, then in Collioure in 1905 with André Derain and in Morocco. But it was in Nice that light found its fullness. There, Matisse produced his most important mature works.

Through the correspondence Matisse sent to Camoin, we have testimony that this series of paintings of the Villa Bleue and its environs had particularly gripped him. So he settled for two months in the hills around Nice to be as close as possible to this nature and building that fascinated him, following the requisition by the Germans of the Beau Rivage hotel where he was staying. This series by Matisse thus offers an opportunity to enter the intimacy of the painter, to understand his creative process and the vision he wanted to render of this landscape that fascinated him.

To date, as anticipated, five works painted in 1918 by Matisse are known from the Villa Bleue. One of these was purchased very early on by Alfred C. Barnes in 1925 from dealer Paul Guillaume and can be seen today in the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia.

The canvas that Millon will offer for sale is the boldest of the other paintings in the same series, and challenges the viewer with its avant-garde composition. Henri Matisse does not simply attempt to depict a dilliaque landscape, but seeks to evoke emotion, through various means such as light, color, and the arrangement of elements. The tree placed in the center of the composition is the main subject of the work: the strength of the landscape is accentuated by the elongation of the trunk and branches. The black of the trunk, considered a color by Henri Matisse, contrasts with the blue of the sky and provides a strong spiritual dimension. Through this quest for expressiveness, Matisse affirms his desire to constantly renew the language of painting like his contemporary Pablo Picasso in the same period.

Pictured is Matisse’s work.

France, forgotten Matisse work rediscovered after more than 100 years. It will go up for auction
France, forgotten Matisse work rediscovered after more than 100 years. It will go up for auction

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