Six Signed Proofs of Original Etchings for Ulysses.New York: The Print Club, 1935 Stock Code: 137308
NotesSigned limited portfolio, number 61 of 150 sets of six plates, each of which are signed by Matisse, for the first illustrated edition. The plates comprise the artist's illustrations for the Limited Edition's Club edition of James Joyce's Ulysses, published that year.
"Homeric in mood and compositions, these etchings were made to serve as illustrations for six episodes in James Joyce's 'Ulysses' which have their counterparts in Homer's 'Odyssey'" (title page). The episodes comprise: "The Calypso Episode"; "Aeolus, Cave of the Winds"; "The Cyclops"; "The Episode of Nausicaä"; "The Circle Episode"; and "Symbolic Landscape: Ithaca".
Within weeks of the lifting of the US ban on Ulysses (6 December 1933), Limited Editions Club impresario George Macy approached Joyce about a special edition of the book, and by February 1934 he was en route to Paris to speak to Matisse about illustrations. Matisse had not read the book and despite being sent a copy of the French translation by Joyce scholar Stuart Gilbert he was, according to his neighbour Dorothy Bussy (née Strachey, sister of Lytton Strachey), "in a complete fog about it" (Goodwin, p. 91). Bussy lent Matisse a copy of Gilbert's seminal James Joyce's Ulysses: A Study (1930), which, she thought he would find useful as a guide through the labyrinth. Matisse quickly accepted the commission, saying that he had "spent the night reading the book and had discerned how the eight episodes although only six were illustrated in Joyce's Ulysses had their impulse in corresponding episodes in Homer's Odyssey. Macy accepted the suggestion and Matisse went to work" (ibid).
Folio. Loose etchings in folded printed wrappers within brown cloth folding portfolio, as issued. Housed in a black quarter morocco solander box by the Chelsea Bindery.
6 soft ground etchings printed on Arches vellum paper, each separated by original tissue guard, each signed by Matisse in pencil, numbered and titled in pencil.
Spine of portfolio worn, joints tender. Contents clean.
Henri Matisse, L'oeuvre gravé, 235-240; Slocum & Cahoon, 22. See William Goodwin, "'A Very Pretty Picture M. Matisse But You Must Not Call It Joyce': The Making of the Limited Editions Club Ulysses", Joyce Studies Annual Vol. 10 (Summer
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