Eva, Grande Chevelure

Henri Matisse

Eva, Grande Chevelure , 1948

Works on paper
17.0 x 22.0 Inches
Charcoal on paper
Unique artwork
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Pierre Matisse, New York (by descent from the artist). Pierre-Noël Matisse (by descent from the above). Private Collection, By descent Christie's, 7 Nov 2012, (lot 134)
Inscribed "H. Matisse mai 48 EVA" lower right

About the artwork

Eva, Grande Chevelure from 1948 demonstrates Matisse’s use of charcoal as a starting point to explore line and form in his work. In this drawing, Eva squints out at the viewer with pursed lips. There is scarce shading in the overall composition except for underneath her chin and around her neck. There is a frenzied movement within the charcoal in both her hair and her blouse, creating a dynamic composition. This work not only embodies Matisse’s use of charcoal and paper but also his use of and approach to drawing during the year of its production in the 1940s and 1950s. During this time, his contour line became thicker and the forms, oftentimes of female figures, became simpler and unshaded. There are more than just one drawing of Eva, Grande Chevelure in Matisse’s oeuvre that exemplifies his constant experimentation with line and form. These works demonstrate how drawing was an evolving and continual process used to experiment and inform his skill sets.

About the artist

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was a French artist who worked in painting, drawing, printmaking, and sculpture. Alongside artists such as Pablo Picasso, Matisse aided in altering the course of modern art and became one of the most celebrated and influential artists of the 20th century. 

After initially training as a lawyer, Matisse moved to Paris in the late 19th century and began classically training in the visual arts. After a trip to the South of France, where he was inspired by the beautiful, bright light, he began utilizing a bolder color palette within his work. Matisse created paintings with an array of brushstrokes and vibrant colors, eventually joining the Fauves: a group of artists known for bright and clashing color schemes in their paintings. This was the beginning of Matisse’s lifelong exploration with color and reducing shapes to their two-dimensional qualities. He became known for his variety of brushstrokes and sinuous, arabesque-like lines. Matisse’s experimental work continued when he moved to Nice in 1917 and through 1930, in a period in his career aptly named the “Nice Period.” His work was continually dominated by bright colors, decorative patterns, and renderings of interior spaces.

Matisse worked with a wide variety of subject matter, but he was most known for these interior scenes, nudes, dancers, and still lifes. 

Overall, painting was Matisse’s dominant medium, but he also created striking prints, drawings, and sculptures. He experimented with drawing all his life, as it helped him work out compositional and stylistic issues. As he grew older and lost some of his physical capabilities, he turned to collage and paper cut-outs, experimenting with line, form, and color in yet a different manner. Matisse’s oeuvre demonstrates the control, tact, and genius that he possessed; he was ever-evolving as an artist, cementing himself as an inspiration for future artists for decades to come. 

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