Gerard A.J. Stodolski, Inc.

Historic Autograph Letters, Manuscripts & Documents

Important Signed & Inscribed Books and Photographs



MATISSE, HENRI.  (1869-1954).  French artist, best known for the expressive color, and form, in his paintings;  leader of the Fauve group of painters.  Good Autograph Letter Signed, “Henri Matisse”,  in French, on lightly lined paper. Two file holes in left margin, .  One very full page, quarto.   ‘Issy-les Moulineaux [France],  August 18, 1920’.   To “Dear Monsieur”.  Matisse writes:


“I thank you for the kind question you asked me with regard to an issue of Kunst and Kunsler [sic] which you would like to keep for me. You can reproduce the works that Mr. Pullman has from me. – I will go by Bernheim’s [the French art book publisher] regarding the reproductions that you requested as well as the design photos. – As for wood, [engravings] I haven’t made any of those for a long time.

As soon as the book of designs you asked me for appears around October, I will bring the two copies you want to Avenue de la Bourdonnais 50. Would you mind if I dropped off a third copy for Purrmann? [Hans Marsilius Purrmann (1880 –1966) German Expressionist artist; completed an apprenticeship as a scene painter and interior decorator, and subsequently studied in Karlsruhe and Munich before going to Paris in 1906, where he became a student and later close friend of Henri Matisse, whom he set up a painting school with]. 

Dear Sir, please accept my high respect.  Henri Matisse

[P.S.] I am waiting for the list from Purrmann regarding the works you told me about.”


The first book Matisse illustrated was Les Jockeys Camouflés, featuring poems by Pierre Reverdy,  published in Paris 1918 by A La Belle Edition [this work included reproductions of five drawings].

Matisse’s second book Poésies, 1932, [an edition of the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé, commissioned by the publisher Albert Skira] did not appear for fourteen years, but when it did, it turned out to be a masterpiece, and the first of his four major contributions to the twentieth-century illustrated book.  It has been acclaimed as one of the finest of all modern illustrated books.

In 1935, Matisse accepted another commission, this time from the American publisher responsible for the Limited Editions Club, George Macy, for an edition of Ulysses by James Joyce.   In reference to our letter, we believe that the publication Matisse is referring to is an art gallery exhibition of his works that Purrmann arranged and curetted in Berlin in 1920.  Just a much above average, and rather early Matisse letter, on a topic that was to be central to his cannon of work.  A fine addition to any collection of artist letters.                      




Issy-les Moulineaux  le 18 Août 1920   

Cher Monsieur,  Je vous remercie de la demande que vous voulez bien me faire au sujet d’un numéro du Kunst und Kunsler [sic] que vous voulez me conserver. Vous pouvez reproduire les œuvres que Mr. Purrman a de moi. – Je vais passer chez Bernheim au sujet des reproductions que vous me demandez ainsi que pour les photos de dessins. – Quant aux bois je n’en ai pas fait depuis longtemps.– Aussitot que le livre de dessins que [vous] me demandez paraitra vers octobre, je remettrai avenue de la Bourdonnais 50, les deux exemplaires que vous me demandez. Voulez-vous bien accepter que j’y joigne si c’est possible une 3e expl. pour Purrman. Veuillez agréer cher Monsieur l’expression de mes sentiments distingués   Henri Matisse

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