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Le reflet
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Le reflet
Withdrawn

Le reflet

US
NY, US
US

About the item

Le reflet, also known as Femme devant un miroir or Femme russe assise, is a stunning double portrait of Lydia Delectorskaya, executed in 1935 at the height of Matisse’s career. Representing both the model and her reflection in profile in the large mirror, this painting combines two of the most important elements of Matisse’s art – that of the female figure and that of patterning and decoration.  Matisse’s works of the 1930s are largely devoted to the subject of a female figure in an interior setting.  Two Russian women dominate in these portraits: Hélène Galitzine and the artist’s muse Lydia Delectorskaya.  Lydia (1908-1998, see Matisse's photo-portrait, fig.1) met Matisse in late 1932 and became his studio assistant while he was working on a commission for the Barnes Foundation.  In the following year she was hired as a companion to the ailing Madame Matisse.  In 1935 Lydia began consistently posing for Matisse, and the present work is one of the first oil paintings of her that Matisse completed during their  nearly twenty year collaboration, until his death in 1954.  Constantly present in Matisse’s studio, Delectorskaya recorded the artist at work in her 1986 publication Henri Matisse … l’apparente facilité… .  During this period, Matisse hired a professional photographer to document his work in progress.  Lydia eventually donated the bulk of these photos, documents and original works of art that Matisse entrusted to her, to St. Petersburg's  Hermitage Museum and Moscow's Pushkin Museum.  Matisse's photographer captured an early state of the present work (see fig. 2) on the day before its completion, April 2, 1935.\nLe reflet was created in Matisse’s mirror, curtain, and screen-filled studio at no. 1, place Charles-Félix in Nice, where he stayed from November 1934 until mid-April 1935.  In this light filled studio, the theme of an image reflected and anchored by the mirror appears often throughout Matisse’s work, and in this picture it is used as a device that shows his model from two different angles, echoing the composition of Ingres’ portrayal of La Comtesse d'Haussonville in the Frick Collection (see fig. 3).  Matisse’s interest in using the mirror, however, goes beyond that of Ingres: not only is he exploring the character of his sitter, but he is using the mirror to multiply and enrich his subject, thereby creating a continuous decorative pattern and emphasizing the flatness of the picture surface.\nIn discussing Matisse’s use of mirrors in his compositions, Pierre Schneider compares it to that of other masters: "With Velazquez, the mirror opened out perspectives on the illusion; with Manet it provoked disillusion ...  Although the woman in front of the mirror in The Reflection (1935) [the present work] is shown full-face while her image is seen in profile, her personality vanishes behind the pictorial interrelationships between her striped dress and its reflections, between her nape, hair, eyebrows, mouth and their reflections.  Here was a Janus-like work such as Mallarmé had dreamt of: two identical halves – which is the model?  Which is the reflection? – reflecting each other indefinitely.  The external world where the sitter came from has been shut out and forgotten" (Pierre Schneider, op. cit., p. 436).\nLike Picasso's 1932 Girl Before a Mirror (so closely associated with one of the alternate titles of Le Reflet, being Woman before a Mirror) in The Museum of Modern Art  (see fig. 4), Matisse gives us a delectable feast of frontal and profile views of his muse.  Le reflet dans la glace combines the beauty of the female body with the rhythmic arabesque curves of her drapery.  Such richness and patterning evoke the fragrance and warmth of the South of France.\nFig. 1, Lydia Delectorskaya, photograph by Henri Matisse\nFig. 2, The early state of the present work, April 1, 1935\nFig. 3, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, La Comtesse d'Haussonville, 1845, oil on canvas, The Frick Collection, New York\nFig. 4, Pablo Picasso, Jeune fille devant un miroir, March 1932, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.  Gift of Mrs. Simon Guggenheim\nSigned and dated Henri.Matisse 35 (upper right)
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Henri Matisse

dimensions

18 1/4 by 21 7/8 in.

exhibition

Düsseldorf, Galerie Groshennig, Chefs d’oeuvre du 19e et 20e siècles, 1960 Rome, Marlborough Gallery, Aspects de l’Art du XX Siècle, 1964, no. 43, cover Paris, Galerie Schmit, Aspects de la peinture française, 1978, no. 41 Paris, Galerie Schmit, Lumières sur la peinture des 19 et 20 siècles, 1983, no. 58

literature

Pierre Schneider, Matisse, Paris, 1984, no. 43, illustrated p. 433 Lydia Delectorskaya, Henri Matisse... l’apparente facilité Peintures de 1935-1939, Paris, 1986, illustrated p. 41

provenance

Renou and Colle (acquired directly from the artist in October 1935) Rees Jeffreys, Sussex (by 1938) S.K Lloyds, London (sold: Christie's, London, November 26, 1954, lot 112) Dr. Herschel Cary Walker, New York (by 1955) B. Wardell (sold: Sotheby and Co., London, November 7, 1962, lot 77) J. Salmon (acquired at the above sale) Galerie Schmit, Paris (by 1978) Private Collection, Paris

signedDate

Signed and dated Henri.Matisse 35 (upper right)

time_period

Painted on April 2, 1935.

creator_nationality_dates

1869 - 1954





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