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MATISSE, Henri (illus.); Charles of Orléans.

Poèmes de Charles d'Orléans.

Manuscrits et illustrés par Henri Matisse.

Paris: Tériade, 1950 Stock Code: 142638
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A fine copy in the original box

First edition thus, first printing, number 1127 of 1,230 copies on vélin d'Arches signed by Matisse on the limitation page. This work was entirely composed by Matisse, reproducing his manuscript version of the medieval poetry by the Duke of Orléans (1394-1465), including some of his rondeaux, chansons, and ballads.

The Duke was taken prisoner by the English in 1415 at the battle of Azincourt and wrote most of the poetry he is remembered for, both in French and in English, during his 25-year-long captivity. Matisse's take on these poems, conceived in the early 1940s during the German occupation of France, can be seen as "Matisse invoking the imprisonment of a historical figure for the purposes of asserting a French cultural tradition during a period when the nation's future appeared uncertain" (Brown, p. 84). Fellow artists however saw in it more of an investigation into Matisse's artistic persona, as André Rouveyre put it in a letter dated 21 January 1943: "Many of these pieces could serve as a research into your own self in complete purity, beyond the figural" (Brown, p. 96).

A lovely copy of the last livre d'artiste published by Matisse during his lifetime, uncommon in the box.

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Folio. Original wrappers, titles and foliated designs in black and green to front cover, fleur-de-lys design in black to rear cover, loose bifolia as issued, untrimmed. With the original glassine. Housed in publisher's box with printed title label to flap (light wear to extremities, discreet repairs).


100 colour lithographic pages, after Matisse, including a line-drawing portrait frontispiece of the poet and 53 full-page illustrations (mostly fleurs-de-lys), of which 5 full-page portraits or scenes.


Faint foxing to covers, else a fine copy, internally fresh and clean.


Kathryn Brown, "Influence as Appropriation of the Creative Gesture: Henri Matisse's Poèmes de Chares d'Orléans" in: "Questions of Influence in Modern French Literature" edited by T. Baldwin and others.


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