With an introduction by Stuart Gilbert.New York : The Limited Editions Club, 1935 Stock Code: 147814
Matisse emerges from the fogFirst illustrated edition, signed limited, number 478 of 1,500 copies signed by Matisse.
Within weeks of the lifting of the US ban on the book (6 December 1933), 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, Matisse 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 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 recent 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" (Brown, p. 82).
Quarto. Original brown cloth, spine lettered and decorated in gilt, 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, top edge speckled brown, others untrimmed. Housed in the publisher's card slipcase.
With 6 soft-ground etchings and 20 reproductions of preliminary drawings on yellow and blue paper, all by Matisse, text printed in double columns, sidenotes and pagination printed in bisque.
Gilt to spine a little dulled, else a fine copy, contents clean and crisp, in the original slipcase, faded and a little worn at the edges, otherwise square and firm.
Slocum & Cahoon A22; 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 Editions Club Ulysses
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