(MATISSE, Henri.) JOYCE, James.

Ulysses.

With an introduction by Stuart Gilbert.

New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935 Stock Code: 139461
£3,750.00

Matisse emerges from the fog

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Notes

First illustrated edition, number 88 of 1,500 copies signed by Matisse on the colophon.

Within weeks of the lifting of the US ban on the book (6 December 1933), the Limited Editions Club impresario George Macy approached Joyce about a special edition of Ulysses and, by February 1934, he was en route to Paris to speak to Matisse about illustration. The artist had not read the book and, despite being sent a copy of the French translation by Joyce, scholar Stuart Gilbert was, according to the artist's 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 remarked, "he will certainly find useful as a guide through the labyrinth" (ibid.). Matisse quickly accepted the commission, saying that he had "spent the night reading the book and had discerned how the eight episodes in Joyce's Ulysses had their impulse in corresponding episodes in Homer's Odyssey. Macy accepted the suggestion and Matisse went to work" (ibid). Matisse's etchings depict the Calypso, Aeolus, Cyclops, Nausicaa, Circe, and Ithaca episodes. The text, with an explanatory introduction by Stuart Gilbert, is based on the second impression of the Odyssey Press edition (1933), which is "generally considered to be the most accurate and authoritative text" (Slocum & Cahoon, p. 30).

In her study of Matisse and his relationship to literature, Kathryn Brown places the Limited Editions Club Ulysses "at the intersection of four important relationships: artist and writer; visual art and literary criticism; innovation and tradition; France and the United States".

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Description

Quarto. Original brown cloth, title and decoration to spine, front cover with design by Le Roy Appleton incorporating Matisse's illustration to the Nausicaa episode in gilt bas-relief circled by Roman numerals representing the 24 hours of Bloomsday, brown speckled top edge, others untrimmed.

Illustrations

With 6 soft-ground etchings by Matisse and 20 reproductions of preliminary drawings on yellow and blue paper; printed in double columns; sidenotes and pagination printed in bisque.

Condition

A near-fine copy, a faint scratch and small white blemish to the front board, but the binding square and firm, the contents clean and etchings bright.

Bibliography

Slocum & Cahoon A22; see also Kathryn Brown, Matisse's Poets: Critical Performance in the Artist's Book, Bloomsbury Academic (2017); William Goodwin, "'A Very Pretty Picture M. Matisse But You Must Not Call It Joyce': The Making of the Limited Ed

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