PRINT December 1968

The Sculpture of Matisse, Part IV

THE DREAM OF MAKING MONUMENTAL sculpture preceded by many years Matisse’s actual execution of the first relief of The Back in 1909. Far from having a “distinct aversion”1 to the scale and grandeur of the ancients (and his cast of the Apollo Piombino, and Greek marble torso must be kept in mind) or harboring a complete antipathy to Renaissance sculptors, as some writers would have us believe, it is conceivable that Matisse sought in this series to do for modern monumental decorative art what Michelangelo and the Greeks had done for religious sculpture. The problems of time, expense, and lack of studio space before 1909, more than attitudes towards what sculpture should not be, accounted for the absence of works larger than The Serf. With the acquisition of a large studio at Issy-les-Moulin-eaux in 1909, it was possible for Matisse to realize his ambition, and Gertrude Stein could write of his new atelier, “Soon the enormous studio was filled with enormous statues and enormous paintings. This was the period of the enormous for Matisse.”2 Why should not an artist who painted large salon size paintings at least think similarly about sculpture?

In the manner of many salon sculptors Matisse did not undertake his first Back as the result of a commission, and there is no published evidence that he had a specific architectural site in mind. (Was he thinking in terms of a garden wall?) The decision to work in relief may have stemmed from such mundane considerations as the problems of self-support for a life-size work, as well as the experience at that time of working on canvases of comparable size and subject.3 Matisse may also have shared the interest of artists such as Maillol, Bourdelle and Duchamp-Villon in countering the illusionistic relief by the making of sculptures that harmonized with the surface of the wall (more “architectural” than pictorial in character). In the summer of 1909; presumably before the sculpture, Matisse painted, on a smaller scale, his Bather, now in the Museum of Modern Art, which was of a motif and view of the body similar to what he was to undertake in the relief. This painting may have contributed to his decision to undertake a subject whose viewpoint and scale seem to have no precedent in sculpture.

In 1908, Matisse made a small bas-relief of a full-length standing nude seen from the front. This was perhaps his first idea for the project and, understandably, he selected the conventional frontal view. Unlike the reliefs of Maillol and Duchamp-Villon, Matisse did not detach his figures almost completely from the rear plane, although, like them, he gives no reference to landscape, and the background is unlocalized. The relief’s small scale still elicited a spirited synoptic treatment of a postural cliche. The classical hipshot pose, closer to tradition than that of the upright woman in the Luxe paintings, gave him a simple bodily movement, an articulated framework upon which to dispose the projecting masses over the surface. Even in as small and cursory a project as this, the legs of the woman receive the most elaboration in terms of the musculature, securing the stance and support of the figure’s weight.

What caused Matisse to turn away from such an admirable and time-tested conception in favor of a woman’s back? Conceivably, as a teacher, Matisse shared the sentiments of Rodin on the limits of “official education” expressed before 1912 to a part-time painter and the Under Secretary of Fine Arts, Dujardin-Beaumetz. The student, Rodin complained, “doesn’t see the back, or rather he sees it only when the model shows the back, and hides the face. And yet the spine is the principal armature, the very equilibrium of the human body. Does it surprise you, after this, that, in so many figures exhibited the length of the pilasters in our palaces of art, the backs are so rarely executed and so often dissimilated by artful draperies?”4

Rodin had himself modeled in relief the back of a Siren for a small ceramic vase manufactured at Sèvres between 1880 and 1882, and his sculpture, particularly in The Gates of Hell, contains many examples of powerfully modeled and expressive backs.5 (This past June the Bourdelle Museum in Paris had the wisdom to exhibit from the back, as testimony to their impressiveness, many sculptures by Matisse’s one-time teacher.) Dalou and Bartholomé had also recognized the potential sculptural beauty of the feminine back. Dalou executed a particularly sensitive plaster relief of this subject which compromises the full length back view by having the model turn her shoulders in order to present the head in profile. He created the illusion of the woman walking into depth so that by comparison of the two feet, the left heel is in high relief. In the Salon of 1901, Bartholomé (best known for his Monument to the Dead in the Père Lachaise Cemetery) exhibited a beautiful small marble relief entitled The Secret, in which three of his four nudes are shown from the back as they gaze into some trees. Matisse was to forego these illusionistic and motivational or anecdotal devices in his own work, but it is interesting to know that in his artistic world at the time there were at least a few small sculptural precedents (including those cited by Rodin) for his point of view.

Recently the idea has been advanced that Matisse may have departed from Cézanne’s early copy after Courbet’s great painting of the Bather, seen from the back in a forest setting.6 Certainly the figural type, the pose, the conceit, have affinities with this source. There are also two paintings by Rouault of 1906 in which a fleshy model is shown from the rear as she rests her arms on a screen.7 Rouault’s obvious studio studies are closer than Courbet’s setting to the drawing Alfred Barr reproduced of a Study of a Model’s Back, done around the time of the first large relief, in which the woman rests or poses by leaning against the studio wall. (In another drawing of 1907, in the Museum of Modern Art, Matisse showed possibly the same model in a similar pose but striding toward us, making the gesture of the head turned into the fold of the raised arm vaguely one of distress.) To these possible sources of ideas, one could add all of Matisse’s paintings and sculptures in which he had made expressive backs, beginning with the Jaguar copy, The Serf, the Decorative Figure, Serpentine, the Two Negresses, and his paintings such as the Philadelphia Museum’s seated woman combing her hair of 1901. The Cézanne painting of Three Bathers, which he owned, had become interwoven with the fabric of his thought and formed part of the lineage of his 1909 painting of The Bather. That there was an abundance of sources upon which Matisse could have drawn does not detract from the audacity of his first monumental undertaking in sculpture.


In this first relief the problem that Matisse set himself, in Alfred Barr’s terms, was to study the “dynamic balance of forms on either side of the spine which, indicated by a deep furrow, follows the vertical median of the composition.”8 The problem might also be phrased in less abstract terms: How does one make an expressive, large-scale composition of a woman’s back? This pose gave him the full-scale opportunity to demonstrate in sculpture that expression need not reside in the human face or gestures. By placing the figure’s weight on her left leg, he was continuing the conventional solutions of Dalou and Bartholomé. Locating the left leg in the relief’s center accorded with Dalou’s placement. But here the similarities end. Matisse was at first determined to avoid obvious solutions such as symmetry, concealment of both hands and arms, and preserving the torso’s isolation of contour by not showing a breast.

From the outset he eliminated the problem of showing the feet in varying depths of foreshortening by cutting them off above the ankle and inserting indications of water. (Rouault had also eliminated the feet in his studies, once by perhaps tearing the paper, and Maillol used this device in his Torso of the Ile de France.) Robert Goldwater has pointed out that the Fauve painters often avoided artificial settings in favor of unlocalized environments for their figures, thereby gaining more immediate effects, and when a natural setting was used the figures were often segmented by objects in their environment.9 Matisse’s reliefs of the Backs are of a bather, having Fauve sisters, who is standing in water and leans against a wall, the top of which she grasps with her left hand. The relief series might best be called “The Bather.”

Along with the continuation of ideas shared with the Fauves, there was also Matisse’s selective acceptance of academic rules, notably the positioning of the shoulders in relation to weight dispersal. “It is an Academy rule that the shoulder of the leg upon which the body is mainly resting is always lower than the other.”10 This dictum, repeated to his pupils about the time he made the first relief, abetted the asymmetry he wanted, but Matisse went to such extremes as a result that he set up a whole new series of formal problems whose solution would mean drastic transposition of the initial conception. For example, the right leg was made appreciably longer than the left, more than anatomy and perspective called for, which dropped the knee joint considerably lower than that of the left leg; from the waist up the figure leans considerably to the left so that the head, left elbow and breast are not plumb with the left leg; the curving spine is contested as the dominant direction and Matisse’s arbitrary proportioning and inflecting of the body’s mass have introduced several accents and axes which diverge diagonally right and left of the figure’s center. If one takes the line of the shoulders, the creases in the back, axes of the buttocks and knees, the result is a fan or open hand-like divergence of movements. What he had in mind he may have verbalized to his students when he said, “One can divide one’s work by opposing lines (axes) which give the direction of the parts and thus build up the body in a manner which at once suggests its general character and movement.”11 The formal stability of the first relief is in jeopardy, and this recognition by the sculptor was affirmed in the succeeding reliefs.

Predictably, the modeling of the first bather has been termed “Rodinesque.”12 But this is not supported by the relief itself or its sculptural predecessors, as I’ve tried to show in this series of articles. Rodin’s feminine backs, for example, have a lithesome grace, femininity of proportions, and a finesse of facture without echo in Back I. Matisse’s treatment is broadly more Michelangelesque than Rodinesque. While Matisse may have considered Michelangelo’s work decadent in his muscular display, he nevertheless was drawn to its vigorous arabesques. He had previously reworked what he thought was Michelangelo’s Ecorché, and used the crossed arm posture from the Medici figure of Night in his modeled study of Olga Merson. He owned and painted a cast of Michelangelo’s Bound Slave (Checker Game and _Piano Music+) and hung a reproduction of Night in his Nice hotel room. The massively proportioned model he chose (perhaps with Michelangelo’s women in mind) indicates that for a large relief Matisse did not feel a svelte model or the Serpentine proportions were appropriate. There are views of this relief, specifically from the sides, in which the subject acquires an almost masculine massiveness and muscular quality. (This mingling of attributes of the sexes Matisse could have seen in Michelangelo’s work.) It is in the pose of the woman’s right arm and hand that memories of Michelangelo are strongest. This arm is absent in the 1909 drawing. It is not a natural pose for the model to assume in this situation, or an academie, for the arm must be twisted in order to have the palm turned outward. This pronated gesture is to be found, of course, in Michelangelo’s dead Christ in the Florentine Pieta, which he undoubtedly saw in 1907. If Matisse was not thinking of reworking Michelangelo’s expressive and morbid gesture, why else would he expose the hand instead of concealing it in front of the body, thereby liberating or isolating the contour of the right hip? (His partial figures, like The Serf, show how he would amputate a limb in order to achieve this.) It is the only time in his sculpture that Matisse details the hand to this extent (compare it with the broader treatment of the woman’s left hand that grips the top of the wall) and this while undertaking his largest and most difficult sculptural problem. The gesture loses its obtrusiveness only when Matisse later rereads it against the total decorative requirements of the relief and in the context of considerable overall reworking. (Did it occur to Matisse that the first relief could be interpreted as a grieving Mary Magdalen who, having helped lower the dead Christ, unconsciously assumes the gesture of death in Michelangelo’s sculpture?)


When Matisse exhibited Back I in 1911, it was listed as “a sketch.” This doesn’t reassure us that at first Matisse contemplated more than one relief. In view of his feelings against artists enlarging their sketches, however, his working out of the first version on the final scale, if it was intended as a sketch, was consistent. For reasons of economy of time and effort Matisse reworked the first Back from a plaster cast. He probably added clay to the plaster where areas were to be built up, and as he cut this clay away he could have wiped it on the background, thus bringing figure and ground into textural accord.

Overall, in the second relief Matisse moved in the direction of greater and more obvious stability of the figure and concision in its form. (The revised placement of the figure within the rectangular borders has affinities with a comparable figural location in the portrait of Mademoiselle Yvonne Landsberg of 1914.) He needed a strong central axis and this was realized by straightening the spine so that it came more into line with the inside of the left leg. The leg itself was thickened in proportion, moving into the left area of the relief and coming more under the midpoint of the head. The effort of greater visual concision comprised reduction of silhouettes having several breaks to those having one or two continuous curves, as in the bather’s legs and right shoulder. The exposed breast became more assimilated with the back and left shoulder, the neck muscles reached down to the spine (suggesting the chignon for the next relief) and the head and left forearm fused. Many of the previous lines and axes of the back were expunged along with the more fleshy allusions. (The roll of fat below the left breast was squared off.) The intervals between the arms and body were reduced and simplified. The Academy rule regarding weight and shoulder relationships was discarded when Matisse felt the imperative of linking the neck to the right wrist in a single arc of shorter radius than a raised shoulder permitted. This type of rounding off of the shoulder is also found in the portrait of Mademoiselle Yvonne Landsberg. Both painting and sculpture have radiating arcs for the shoulder, a continuation from the Bather painting of 1909 in which Matisse left his changes of mind exposed. In the sculpture, the gash running from the right shoulder to the base of the spine may have been an effort to bring the two sides of the figure into greater harmony, enacted perhaps after his painting of the Landsberg portrait. Matisse had otherwise aggravated the discrepancies between the right and left halves of the figure, as can be seen by covering one side at a time. (The figure seems to be moving in two different directions.) But this proved to be an abortive decision, perhaps because it drew attention away from the spine.


It was not unusual for Matisse to begin an ambitious painting, encounter problems, and wait for years to resolve them, or to see ways of reworking what he had done some time before. While we await publication of a catalogue raisonné, it would appear that the relief of the third bather and the large painting, Bathers by a River, roughly coincide in their final state, around 1916–1917. (The painting may have been initiated four years earlier.) As has already been recognized, there are shared qualities in the composition and treatment of the painted and sculptured figures which suggest Matisse’s bringing to the solution of a sculptural problem ideas he had been working out in painting, particularly with regard to extending a reductive mode that stressed shallow curves and straightened edges, often joining both at abrupt angles.13 (This mode may have some indebtedness to Picasso’s and Braque’s Cubism, but it might also be read as a fusion of the “feminine and masculine” modalities that appeared as early as 1906 in his own drawings, prints and paintings.) In 1908 Matisse had commented on the character of lines to his students: “. . . a curved line is made easily, and securely establishes its character by contrast with the straight one which so often accompanies it . . . If you see all forms in the round they soon lose all character. The lines must play in harmony and return as in music.”14

The third relief, also built up from a plaster cast of its predecessor, shows the most vigor in terms of reformation of the conception and execution of the changes. A more decorative unity than previously was imposed upon the body. A new chording was found for the back and its relation to the total relief surface. Expression was by “masses in clear relation to one another and large sweeps of line . . . all directions go to creating the sensation of the figure’s erectness.” Both relief and painting have been reconceived in terms of irregular vertical zones, creating an explicit rhythmic series. The bather’s earlier slack stance of repose has been stiffened into one that is like a saluting figure at attention, which eliminates any need to show muscular tension. This also squares off the main figural axes with the framing edges of the wall, but the upright head now extends slightly above the top of the relief. Recalling his own exhortation to his students concerning the rebuilding of the body (“It must have a spine.”), he has now fashioned one sculpturally by means of letting the chignon down to connect with the inside of the left buttock and leg, providing a hard, vertically inflected median for the relief. In this respect the bather at the far left of the painting of 1916–17 is sister to that of the relief. Matisse even shaded the form of his painted figure to abet the implications of her rounded silhouette. In the painting one senses the interaction of a figure’s silhouette with an adjacent vertical zoning edge. So too in the relief, Matisse may have felt the need to introduce an engraved line at the right. James Rosati, who pointed this line out to me, added that the mark was not from a crack in the plaster nor a casting fault, but was an esthetic decision to be read against the new vertical combinations.15 (It may also have registered the thought of cutting down the relief on the right side.)

Just as the vertical and diagonal directional accents have fallen into a clearer relationship favoring the former, so too have the scale and number of shapes. Breast, back and arm have become one, the hand is more of a “sign,” the left leg and buttock division is now indicated not by a crease, but by degrees of swelling and proportion. One should look at these reliefs from the side, not only to realize their considerable projection, but to see how thoughtful the sculptor was in varying their altitude from the back plane.


From a distance the last relief of the bather series carries more clearly and completely, but does not have the obvious vigor, evidence of chance-taking, and apparent formal richness of its ancestors. Returning to the series after many years, Matisse may have felt that in the third relief there was too much competition between large areas in expressiveness to achieve sufficient serenity. For the fourth time he organized but now crystallized his ideas, and the relief reflects the more perfect order and clarity of his thought. All zones sustain each other more harmoniously. In this last transposition of the conception all areas impress as having been equally considered and no one section is realized at the expense of the other. The relief is more complex and sophisticated in its reductiveness than comparable figures in any of his previous drawings or paintings, such as the Bathers by the River. Matisse had extended himself beyond previous efforts to realize the body as a single form. The big masses and their relations were found deductively. He could not have foreseen the final simplified form in 1909, as the last contour presupposes all the previous irregularities literally underneath it. Isolated and traced, the silhouette is not self-evident as to subject. The figure’s identity needs both contours and the shaping of the full volumes.

The final suggestive synthesis of the body is further tribute to Matisse’s mind. There are three simple vertical areas, two of which are subdivisions of one complex form, and that of the central section is a fusion into one shape of three (head, hair and spine). The joints are truly “inherent parts of the limb.” Hip bone and hand have left their trace, but are now recomposed into the fugue of straight and curved edges. Their reshap­ing gives character to the negative areas of the relief, which in turn have taken on a more defi­nite quality and serve to lock the figure into the composition. Matisse showed that, as with color, he had a great gift for dividing up a rectangular area into sculptured shapes.

Like color in painting, he wanted the light to follow the form of the volumes. Light no longer excavates or obscures the big masses. Depressions have been reduced as has steepness of gradient to enhance the volumes. The overall effect of plastering the surface with his sculptor’s tool as­sures homogeneity of figure and ground and re­calls Matisse’s statement to his drawing students, “A shaded drawing requires shading in the back­ground to prevent its looking like a silhouette cut out and pasted on white paper.”16 Matisse must have been conscious that under strong sidelighting, the already high relief of the body throws large shadows that make it seem deeper and less as if the figure had been embedded in the wall. Out of doors, there are only brief moments when natural light can be directly centered on the re­lief, which flattens it out and makes it seem as if the figure is cut in half.

The plastered surface permits a discreet refer­ence to the artist’s hand and in this last relief Matisse wanted the conception to be unrivalled by the evidence of execution. He permitted the final obliteration of his signature, seen in its en­tirety only in the first work, and then successively blocked as the left leg was thickened. For all his previous insistence upon feeling and intuition, Matisse seems to have wanted us, in this last work, to experience the result of his intellect. For this reason, and the fact that he stored the second relief in a Nice warehouse for so many years that he forgot about it when Alfred Barr was consult­ing him, it is conceivable that Matisse may not have wanted all four reliefs to be seen together. Didactically and historically he might have agreed they were impressive together. But in the last relief, as in so many other sculptures and paintings upon which he lavished so much thought and work, it is doubtful that he wanted us to re­experience his effort any more than a great poet such as Baudelaire would have thought of pub­lishing simultaneously all of the drafts of a poem. (How soothing for one mental worker to experi­ence the exertions of another?) In a letter to Henry Clifford which he wrote in 1940, Matisse said, “I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the lightness and joy­ousness of a springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost.”17

To a lesser degree, but still like Picasso, Matisse could not follow a single line of development. “My destination is always the same, but I work out a different route to get there.”18 He had solved a difficult problem to his satisfaction but had not thereby created the basis of a new style or felt the compulsion to move to abstraction. This was not a failure of nerve, caution or timidity, but rather a desire to respond to different problems and a refusal to make sculptural clichés. When he next undertook the Seated Venus sculptures, for ex­ample, he could remember the act of fusing breast with back and arm and the elimination of many directional axes, but a new pose and iso­lation of the figure created fresh problems to be solved. Almost twenty years later his project for a sculpture of the crucified Christ found him start­ing all over, using another artist’s work and preparatory drawings in which he wrestled with trans­posing human anatomy into his own expressive modes.


There seemed to be an anomaly in Matisse’s previous history of making uncommissioned sculpture for personal, pleasurable purposes and his consent to the request of Père Couturier to make a sculpture of the crucified Christ as part of his decoration for the Vence Chapel. How could a man who wanted art to be like a good arm­chair agree to such a tragic theme? The male figure had been absent from his sculpture for about forty-five years. How appropriate was it for a sculptor who made art for home and studio to do a sculpture for a convent chapel? Matisse was not unlike Rodin in that he was in some ways a professional artist of the old school and while not an orthodoxly religious man, he could still put his heart into the shaping of Christ as well as Venus. Both sculptors enjoyed the chal­lenge of reinterpreting for themselves and their time great subjects of the past.

Before 1900, Matisse had copied in painting Holbein’s Dead Christ, and Barye’s Jaguar had given him a taste of brutality in art. His own pro­fane art had been an outlet for what he referred to as his “so-to-say religious feeling for art.” Like Picasso in the early thirties, the crucifixion theme drew Matisse to Grünewald’s Isenheim altarpiece. (Actually it was for the second time.) But unlike Picasso, Matisse found that his own temperament expressed in the resulting drawings could not dwell upon the pathetic evidences of Christ’s passion in the form of the agonized face, pinioned hands and feet, or a brutal wooden cross. (For one thing, this contravened his decorative ideals of not drawing attention to one area more realized than another.) His final sculpture makes one concession to pathos and death, the inclined head of Christ. A previous sculptural study tells us that Matisse moved away from a more slack posture for Christ to the final erect stance which, with the upraised arms, evokes a gesture of prayer rather than pain, and directs thoughts away from death to resurrection and a more joyful meaning.19

The importance of his subject did not distract Matisse from the decorative demands of the altar’s location and ensemble of objects. In deciding upon the meaning of his work, Matisse was aware that the altar was not in the form of a tomb, but is a table, symbolizing the transubstantiation of the Eucharist rather than death. The slim proportions allow the figure to accord with those of the other objects of the altar, and also to make visible the gesture from different angles and the distances it is seen from by the priest and nuns in the small chapel. As in the ceramic murals near the altar, Matisse felt the need to signify, not portray, Christ’s body, as Rodin had done, and to thereby better attune the thoughts of the worshipper to the meaning rather than the means of Christ’s tortured death. Thus Matisse did not contradict his aim of achieving purity, balance and serenity. The chapel, like his own studio, was an ideal home for his art for here where he had fashioned the total environment, it could be silently and daily communed with as a spiritual distraction from the outside world. To the end his art fulfilled his conviction of the seriousness and importance of decoration for man’s spiritual wellbeing.


More than Rodin, Matisse connects the sculpture of the past century where the proper function of art was to interpret nature, with that of this century insofar as art is characterized by its permissiveness of exaggeration in accord with the spirit of the work itself. He would not “turn his back on nature,” nor bring to sculpture new themes, media or means. His gift was an exceptional artistic intelligence and taste when it came to revitalizing traditional formats, motifs and problems of sculpture. Matisse reminded us, “There are no new truths.” In his hands modeling and the figural tradition were still fruitfully responsive to individual temperament. The modest size of so many of his efforts warns us that sculptural power is not the exclusive prerogative of large scale. In a day of so much deadpan painting, impersonal and inexpressive sculpture, Matisse’s art remains a refreshing evocation of what expression and individuality in art can be. His sculpture is a contradiction to those who insist that the artist should seasonally “bother to change his idiom.” (Some Whitney Annual sculptors were so criticized by a senior feminine art critic not so long ago.) Matisse demonstrated that a successful artist could remain apart from radical developments in the sculpture of his contemporaries, and that to be an important sculptor one need not “overarch” other artists by influence.20 Despite his teaching based on “elementary principles,” he did not create a sculpture that lent itself to codifying or imitation by systems of the hand. Rules, which he felt to “have no existence outside of individuals,” structured for him an invisible armature or stimulating foundation, for in the last resort his personal ideals of perfection relied upon systems of the spirit.


This series of articles had obvious limits, omissions and inadequacies. There was undoubtedly a more complex and important interaction between the painting and sculpture of Matisse than has been given. We need to know more about the dates of many sculptures and paintings. A simple chronological treatment would be more natural and further our insights into the art of Matisse as a whole. The sculptures themselves merit more sophisticated analysis. Not all of the sculptures could be shown, of course, and both reader and writer should know more about the artist’s actual methods of building his figures.21 It would have been interesting to show, as Sidney Geist has recently shown for Brancusi, photographs of Matisse’s portrait subjects. The salon sculpture examples illustrated, most of which substantially predate Matisse’s works of comparable theme, are an inadequate sampling of the relevant conservative but popular art that Matisse saw all around him in Paris while he was working. The future should allow us the opportunity to reduce these obstacles to understanding.



1. Hilton Kramer, “Matisse as a Sculptor,” Bulletin: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Volume LXIV, 1966, No. 336, p. 53. It is unjust to refer to this interesting essay only in the negative.

2. Raymond Escholier, Matisse, Ce Vivant, 1956, p. 87.

3. Matisse did a painting of this studio, The Painter’s Studio, reproduced in Alfred Barr’s Matisse, His Art and His Public, 1951, p. 375. At the far right is what appears to be one of the Backs, but its size relative to other objects around it suggests it might have been a large drawing, or painted sketch on a stretched canvas.

4. This is to be found in my anthology, Auguste Rodin: Readings on His Life and Work, 1965, p. 160.

5. For an illustration in color of this vase see J.-F Chabrun and R. Descharmes, Rodin, 1967, p. 65.

6. George Heard Hamilton, Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1880–1940, 1967, p. 110.

7. The Paris version is reproduced in Jean-Paul Crespelle, The Fauves, 1962, plate 60.

8. Barr, p. 142.

9. Robert Goldwater, Primitivism in Modern Art, 1967, p. 92.

10. Barr, 550.

11. Barr, 551.

12. George H. Hamilton, Painting and Sculpture in Europe, 1880–1940, p. 110. Alfred Barr recognized this difference. p. 142.

13. The connection between this relief and the painting of Bathers by a River was noted by Pierre Matisse and Margaret Miller. Barr, p. 545.

14. Barr, p. 551.

15. Rosati has studied these reliefs for many years and his own Galley series derives from them. He has strong feelings, which I can only inadequately express, about Matisse’s deep involvement with the reliefs which lead to him confounding the front and back of the figure. He sees elements of the front of the woman in the back. There are some interesting affinities between Matisse’s treatment of Mademoiselle Landsberg, who is seen from the front, and that of the third Back.

16. Barr, p. 551.

17. Jean Leymarie, Herbert Read, William S. Lieberman, Henri Matisse, 1966, p. 7.

18. Barr, p. 119.

19. Alfred Barr reproduces a photograph of Matisse at work on this sculpture which shows its predecessor. p. 524.

20. Hilton Kramer feels that Matisse is a minor sculptor. He sees the backs of certain Gaston Lachaise torsos as having “a confidence and conviction, a display of sculptural power, that are not to be found in Matisse.” It is hard to look at the Matisse works as being in any way deficient in terms of confidence, conviction or power. Further, Mr. Kramer goes on to say that Lachaise “. . . had in abundance the sort of imperious sense of his own mission as a sculptor that one finds in Rodin and Maillol but not the sculpture of Degas or Matisse.” If this is the criteria of an important sculptor, then the art of Mestrovic, Manship and Wheeler Williams would have to be accredited as being more important than that of Matisse. (p. 65.)

21. For additional reproductions of Matisse’s sculpture see the catalog of the 1959 Zurich Kunsthaus exhibition, Henri Matisse, Das Plastische Werk.