"MA TERRIBLE PASSION": MATISSE'S ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF BAUDELAIRE’S LES FLEURS DU MAL, ONE OF ONLY 320 COPIES SIGNED BY MATISSE
(MATISSE, Henri, illustrator) BAUDELAIRE, Charles. Les Fleurs du Mal. (Paris): La Bibliotheque Francaise, (1947). Quarto, contemporary full navy morocco decorated in gilt, pink and red, morocco doublures, watered silk endpapers, all edges gilt; original pictorial heavy paper wrappers and spine bound in. Housed in a custom portfolio and matching leather-edged slipcase. $9200.
Splendid signed limited illustrated edition of Baudelaire's masterpiece in the original French, number 220 of only 320 copies signed by Matisse, with one original etching on Chine paper as a frontispiece, 33 full-page original lithographs—evocative portraits complimenting the poems—and numerous woodcut ornaments, all by Matisse. Beautifully bound in a decorative full morocco binding by Manuel Gérard.
"In the first week of June  the Allies landed in Normandy to begin advancing south and east, driving the Germans before them through France. Matisse had plunged back into work, attempting to blot out his feelings by illustrating Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal… Paris was liberated on 24 August. Nelck, posing three days later for a drawing for the Fleurs du mal, cried out when she saw a troop of enemy occupants march past the window, but Matisse did not even turn his head. 'Never let it be said that I stopped work to watch the Germans depart,' he said grimly" (Spurling, Matisse the Master, 422-23). "Baudelaire was said by Hugo to have introduced a frisson nouveau into poetry, an essentially modern form of exacerbated sensibility which will quicken only to a beauty that contains the elements of corruption… He was a precursor of modern poetry by his perception of the symbolic correspondences of colors, scents, and sounds, by his exploration of the musical possibilities of the French language, and above all by his evocative power" (Harvey & Heseltine, 53-54). Text in French.
Fine condition, beautifully bound. Scarce and desirable signed.