We're delighted to announce an exhibition through January in our main gallery of original lithographs made to illustrate Florilège des Amours de Ronsard in 1948 by the great Henri Matisse.
What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or disturbing subject matter . . . Like a comforting influence, a mental balm. Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse and his model in the Rue des Plantes studio, 1939
'Henri Matisse was not only an innovative genius but also a man of great warmth and humour with an overwhelming generosity of spirit. In 1941, in his early seventies and much of the time confined to his bed, he began one of his most complicated and successful printmaking projects, Florilège des Amours de Ronsard, illustrating the love poems of the 16th century poet Pierre de Ronsard. The work was to take seven years to complete and in its making Matisse’s sexuality was to find its most intense expression.'
Matisse – Pierre Schneider, Thames and Hudson, 1984
The imagery created by Ronsard’s poems lent itself well to Matisse’s favoured themes of fruits, flowers, portraits and the female form. Most of these motifs were those which Matisse knew by heart and for which he had an abiding fondness.
I have always tried to hide my own efforts and wanted my work to have the lightness and joyousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labours it has cost. Henri Matisse
Such was his delight with the subject matter that over the years he expanded the commission from 30 lithographs to the 126 which made up the finished project.
This now very rare suite was printed by Mourlot Frères in Paris on pure rag tinted wove Papeteries d’Arches paper in an edition of 320 sets only, of which 300 were for sale. It was published in 1948.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the justification page signed by Matisse.
In the end, there is only Matisse. Pablo Picasso