Lot 171
ART MATISSE Dessins, Themes et Variations LTD 1943

Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000

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About this Lot

[ LIVRE D’ARTISTE]. Henri MATISSE. A complete suite of the 158 prints, the frontispiece and the title page from the limited edition Dessins, Themes et Variations [Paris: Martin Fabiani, 1943].

Condition: the plates are in acceptable condition with editorial markings in graphite along margins; a dozen or so have small white stickers with notes for photography department.

Extra-illustrated with over 20 loose sheets removed from Gianni Testori's Disegni di Matisse (1943) and other sources, also with marginal notations, some with post-it notes attached.

Not included: the text leaves (with a couple of in text illustrations) being Louis Aragon’s accompanying essay.

Unbound (as issued) in original stiff paper wrappers (lacking backstrip), the wrappers within original portfolio boards (lacking spine).  

This suite from the rare 1943 portfolio was used as the photo-ready artwork for the  reproduction issued by Dover Publications in 1995, a book that has become a valued reference item in its own right.

Though sold As Found, with wear commensurate with use, the plates are suitable for framing with editorial markings deliberately confined to the margins, permitting the photography department to crop them without loss; occasional corner wear and light edgewear as expected.

Since 1941, when Hayward Cricker and his wife Blanche founded the company, DOVER PUBLICATIONS has been re-issuing out-of-print titles and books in the public domain, often using original printings as source material, at times inventively combining different texts or adding introductory material to form an original work. The process could be a brutally physical one which necessarily involved completely separating a book and, often, cutting out pages so that they could be rearranged for a photo-ready copy. The company would then archive the mock-up along with unused material, sometimes in makeshift folders, sometimes bundled in paper, storing them as source material for future projects, such as selected works, postcards or coloring books.

The item being offered here is a prime example of the publisher's archived files, one that served as a primary text for Dover's various Matisse projects but specifically the mock-up for their 1995 book, Henri Matisse: Drawings, Themes and Variations. Fortunately, and somewhat remarkably, the main source for this packet was a rare, collectible limited portfolio of prints from line drawings made by Matisse during the Occupation and published by Martin Fabiani in 1943 -- Dessins, Themes et Variations. 

Reference: Bock Weiss, Catherine C.. Henri Matisse: A Guide to Research. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis, 2014; no. 222.
For an essay on Dover Publications, with useful links, see : Krieger, Karin Falcone. "This Is A Permanent Book." Contingent Magazine. February 23, 2020

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