Christie’s will be presenting the Collection Jacqueline Matisse Monnier on April 13, an exceptional and historic group of works that recounts the extraordinary life of one of the most important French artists, Henri Matisse.
Comprising 78 lots, with an estimated total value exceeding €23 million, the sale will offer works originating directly from the artists and previously unseen on the market. These rare pieces, largely created by friends of the Matisse family, will be publicly displayed for the first time in Christie’s Paris galleries.
The collection includes works by some of the greatest names of the 20th century, including Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, the Giacometti brothers, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne.
Born in 1931, Jacqueline Matisse Monnier, called Jackie by her friends, had art running in her blood. Granddaughter of Henri Matisse, the great master of modern art, she has been drawing since childhood and has always favored her artistic practice as a means to express herself. Daughter of Pierre Matisse, one of the greatest gallerists of the 20th century, she was surrounded by some of the most eminent artists of their time.
Her mother, Alexina Teeny Matisse – who later became Teeny Duchamp when she married Marcel Duchamp in 1954 – cultivated throughout her life a thriving artistic network around her and her family.
Living between Paris and New York, Jacqueline gradually developed her own artistic language and universe through her kite-art. In these poetic, floating paintings, she used the sky as her canvas and explored the organic movements of the wind.
Jacqueline was very sensitive to the artistic production of her friendship circle and nurtures sincere friendships with her contemporaries, who included John Cage, Jean Tinguely, and Robert Rauschenberg. The Collection Jacqueline Matisse Monnier portrays a fascinating family history and embodies the intergenerational friendships the Matisses had with artists.
“This extraordinary collection pays a vibrant tribute to Jacqueline Matisse Monnier and her family history. It is a great privilege for Christie’s to organize the sale of this extraordinary collection, which has never been seen on the market. We are very honored by the trust placed in us by the family.”
Cécile Verdier, President, Christie’s France
“It is an extraordinary privilege to enter the world in which Jackie Matisse Monnier was immersed in, surrounded by works created by members of her family or offered to her by artistic friends. This sale invites our clients to discover these works, which are central to the artistic production in 20th century France.”
Jonathan Rendell, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Americas
“We are delighted that Christie’s is at our side during this very important moment in our family history. It is with great emotion that we commemorate our mother and present these works that have been in our lives since we were children and were part of our family for three generations.”
Robert Monnier, Jacqueline Matisse Monnier’s son
The Collection Jacqueline Matisse Monnier will offer an exceptional ensemble of works that have remained in the family to this day. It includes often unique pieces, coming directly from some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, illustrating their intimate relationships with the family.
The top lot of the sale, Petit buste d’homme by Alberto Giacometti (estimate €3,000,000-5,000,000), is part of a group of eight works by the Giacometti brothers that have remained in the family homes until now. This very rare patinated bronze enhanced with paint, originating from Pierre Matisse’s collection, was executed in 1950.
The blue bathtub Hippopotame I by François-Xavier Lalanne, to whom Jacqueline Matisse Monnier was very close, is the first resin version of this iconic model (€800,000 – 1,200,000) and was also acquired directly from the artist.
Marcel Duchamp’s personal copy of the book Marcel Duchamp. Propos et souvenirs from 1964, including the famous ready-made L.H.O.O.Q., which he dedicated to himself (€600,000-800,000), is a further highlight. A catalog from Pierre Matisse Gallery’s 1961 exhibition, MIRÓ 1959-1960. (€70,000-100,000), is also presented.
This is a unique copy given by Miró to Jacqueline, his goddaughter, and her husband Bernard Monnier. It is illustrated with original signed watercolor and reflects the strong bond between Miró and the family.
Further highlights include Finissez ce que j’ai commencé, an early Surrealist composition by Yves Tanguy from 1927, exhibited at the Guggenheim in 1982-83 (€1,200,000-1,800,000), L’Homme et l’Oiseau by Joan Miró, an exceptionally vivid gouache dated 1935 (€1,000,000-1,500,000), and Yves Klein’s blue monochrome IKB 183 (€1,000,000-1,500,000) dated 1959.
Indisputably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Henri Matisse holds a place of honour in this sale with more than 30 works offered, including three portraits of Jackie and a 1935 painting: Nymphe et faune rouge (€1,800,000- 2,200,000) along with its preparatory sketch (lot 31, €250,000-350,000).
The collection also includes two important silkscreens on linen, by Henri Matisse, which were very dear to the artist: Océanie, la Mer and Océanie, le Ciel (€1,200,000-1,800,000 each). These 1946 works, one of which is dedicated “à Pierre”, commemorate his visit to Tahiti, more than fifteen years after the event.
Created by textile designer Zika Ascher, these works met with great success before they were even completed. Executed only a few years before his 1950 monumental cut-outs, these two series play a key role in the development of his paper-cut technique.
The two sister compositions shortly precede the book Jazz, Henri Matisse’s artistic manifesto (estimate €250,000 – 350,000) published by Tériade, that translates Matisse’s chromatic improvisations with 20 original, brightly colored stencils based on his collages. This family copy includes a text lithographed by Draeger.
Throughout his career, Pierre Matisse played a substantial role in the promotion of French and European modern art in the United States. With more than 300 exhibitions organized in his New York gallery, he was a strong supporter of the avant-garde and helped shape the greatest private and institutional American collections. Pierre Matisse represented Henri Matisse, Jean Dubuffet, Yves Tanguy, the Giacometti brothers, and Joan Miró.
Some works offered for sale originate from Pierre Matisse and are a testament to this fascinating dialogue between different artistic styles and generations.
An important oil on canvas from 1968, Etude by Simon Hantaï,(€600,000 – 800,000), reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs, is one such work that has been exhibited at the Pierre Matisse Gallery.
Similarly, Jean Dubuffet’s charcoal Michaux façon momie (opposite, €60,000-80,000) and sculpture Le Maestro (€600,000-800,000); and Femme, serpent, étoiles by Joan Miró (opposite, €250,000-350,000) are from Pierre Matisse’s personal collection.
Jacqueline Matisse Monnier
Jacqueline Matisse Monnier has continuously been exposed to art since her childhood. However, like her parents, she consciously chose to live with art every day.
Her first artistic collaboration was with her step-father, Marcel Duchamp, for whom she assembled the boîtes-en-valises in a small room in the rue du Bac, over a period of ten years. Two exceptionally well-preserved editions are part of the collection, including a red Série F (opposite, €120,000-180,000) signed by Duchamp.
Rifiuti di tegna, a 1970 collage on panel by their friend Daniel Spoerri (€10,000-15,000) was acquired directly from the artist by Jacqueline Matisse Monnier.
For many years, Jackie also advised Niki de Saint Phalle, whom she met at school in the United States. Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely, both close friends of Jackie, often visited her at her house near Paris. A sculpture by Jean Tinguely in the sale (opposite, €60,000-80,000) was given to Jackie as a gift to thank her for contributing to the completion of his monumental collective work, The Cyclop.
Three further works by Niki de Saint Phalle in this sale also illustrate this bond, including Upside Down Lady Vase (€10,000-15,000).