MATISSE'S FINAL ILLUSTRATED BOOK, 100 PAGES COMPLETELY ILLUSTRATED, LETTERED, AND DECORATED BY MATISSE, SIGNED BY THE ARTIST
MATISSE, Henri. Poèmes de Charles D'Orléans. Manuscrits et Illustrés par Henri Matisse. (Paris): Tériade Editeur, (1950). Folio (10-1/2 by 16 inches), signatures loose as issued in original color lithographed wrappers by Matisse. $6200.
Signed limited edition of the last illustrated book by Matisse, a selection of medieval ballads chosen by the artist, number 763 of only 1230 copies signed by Matisse in pencil on the limitation page, with 100 color lithographed pages completely designed, lettered, decorated, and illustrated by Matisse, including the frontispiece portrait of Charles d'Orléans signed and dated "Henri Matisse 3/43" on the stone.
Matisse's last illustrated book contains a profusion of ornaments and arabesques in a spectrum of pastel colors interspersed with portraits of ladies in court costume. Every element of the book proceeds directly from the artist's hand; only the justification is set from type. "In no other of Matisse's books does one feel the same sense of the artist's pleasure in his work as he plays here his subtle games with children's crayons" (Barr, 272). "In September 1942 Matisse asked [friend and publisher André] Rouveyre to find him a collection of poems by Charles d'Orléans and, at the end of the year, he began to copy the poems out, framing them with colored crayons and sending them to Rouveyre to consider his reactions, have his choice confirmed or simply to share with him the joy they gave him… Rouveyre's advice was often sensible and thoughtful; it was he also who suggested to Matisse that the poems be illustrated by a straightforward scrolled frame like those of the sheets that he received, and that the entire work be executed by hand, including the text—an idea that had already occurred to Matisse" (Matisse: A Second Life, 128). The war made it difficult for Matisse to find a publisher, delaying the book's appearance until 1950. Lithographed text in the hand of the artist in black within colored lithographic borders, printed by Mourlot Frères. Text in French. Without original slipcase and glassine. The Artist and the Book 202.
Text and plates clean and fine with occasional light offsetting from artwork, very faint marginal dampstain to inner corner of a few leaves, not touching images or text, tape repair to inner margin of one bifolio; outer wrapper with a few expert repairs to splits across spine, and a few small stains to wrappers. Still, a very nice copy of this scarce signed edition.