In this drawing, done in 1947, we see a young woman enticingly glancing at us from a simplified, very efficient drawing. She was a Russian named Lydia Delectorskaya, and by her own account she could hardly have been more different from the dark-eyed, black-haired, olive-skinned southern types Matisse had preferred until now. Lydia, who came from Siberia, had long golden hair, blue eyes, white skin and finely cut features: the looks of an ice princess, as Matisse said himself. They first met in 1932, when Lydia started as a studio assistant, then as a domestic, with Matisse and his wife Amélie. It was not for another three years that the painter asked her to sit for him. Lydia was 25, Matisse was 65.
Matisse considered his drawing to be a very intimate means of expression. He often made drawings to inform his paintings and sculptures, feeling that these drawings should be quick, gestural exercises that captured the form and emotion evoked in him by the subject. As the most direct expression of the artist's thoughts, drawing often helped Matisse to work out compositional and stylistic problems or new ideas. His favorite subjects were evocative or erotic; the female form, the nude figure or a beautiful head of a favorite model.
Bought by previous owner in 1950; Private Collection, France
Nice, Galerie des Ponchettes, Matisse, 1950, no. 23
The authenticity has been confirmed by Wanda de Guébriant
Le Cateau-Cambrèsis, France
Henri Matisse was born in 1869 and first went to study law in Paris, where he graduated in 1888. After that he began copying prints and around 1890 he painted his first still lifes. However, his father had little faith in the artistic ambitions of his son, so it was not until 1892 that he went to Paris for his artistic training.Matisse becomes particularly interested in the rendering of . . .