This is an original lithograph printed in sanguine on wove paper bearing the “1590 LANA” watermark. It is a superb impression of the definitive state from the edition of 220 on this paper number 145 from this edition (there were 30 additional impressions printed on Montval wove paper, for an overall edition of 250). Plate IV (page 23) from the album Visages, accompanying the poems of Pierre Reverdy. Catalogue raisonné reference: Claude Duthuit 11 IV Published by Les Editions du Chene, Paris, 1946; printed by Atelier Mourlot, Paris, February 27, 1946. Throughout his long and productive career, Matisse periodically refreshed his creative energies by turning from painting to drawing, sculpture and other forms of artistic expression. A great source of inspiration was poetic. The poetry or poetic prose Matisse loved was intimate, sensuous and personal. In his later years he developed the practice of reading poetry early each day before he raised a paint brush, pencil or etching needle. Matisse noted that poetry was like oxygen: "just as when you leap out of bed you fill your lungs with fresh air." This kept him young at heart. In his lifetime he also produced more than a dozen illustrated books which were known as “livre d’artiste” (artist’s book), a specific type of illustrated book that became common in France around the turn of the century thanks to the pioneering efforts of Albert Skira and Teriade. These books, of which Visages is one and in which this lithograph was published, were deluxe, limited editions, meant to be collected and admired as works of art, as well as, read. Pierre Reverdy began his career as a poet when he moved to Paris in 1910. He published his first small volume of poetry in 1915 and continued to write steadily thereafter. Gradually Reverdy became known in literary circles, frequenting the avant-garde group consisting of such well known artists and writers as Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Georges Braque, as well as Matisse. Though he became known to the Surrealist and Cubist circles, Reverdy remained independent with his art. He endeavored to find "the sublime simplicity of true reality." In his quest, Reverdy became a Catholic and retired to a life of ascetic seclusion near the Benedictine monastery at Solesmes in 1926. He stayed there for the remainder of his life, devoting his time to his poetry and his religion. The French poet and novelist Phillipe Soupault claimed that Reverdy "with Paul Eluard, . . . is the purest of the writers of his time."
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