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Henri Matisse

Portrait Mrs. William Paley

pen and India ink on paper
1936
38,1 x 27,3 cm / 15 x 10 3/4 in.
with stamped monogram 'HM' lower right

William Samuel Paley (1901-1990) was the president of the CBS network. His first wife, socialite Dorothy Paley (1908–1998), introduced him to art and he began collecting works of the highest quality. In 1936, they travelled to France, where Paley acquired two paintings by Matisse, "Woman with a Veil" and "Nude with a tambourine" and met the artist personally. He asked Matisse to paint a portrait of Dorothy, who was a famous beauty. In September 1936, she sat for Matisse for several days, and the artist did drawings in charcoal and pen and ink of her. But he became ill before he could paint the portrait. He put it off until the next summer, knowing the Paleys were coming to France again in 1937. But the portrait was never executed. In January 1937, Matisse sent Dorothy Paley a 1936 issue of "Cahiers d'Art", which was entirely devoted to the artist and included a reproduction of a drawing of Dorothy, very similar to the present work. He wrote on the front flyleaf "homage respectueux à Madame Dorothy Paley Henri Matisse Janvier 1937". Upon William Paleys death, the major part of his collection was bequeathed to the MoMA, New York, whose trustee, then president, he had been for many years. Provenance available

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