Anne Robinson, Karen Saxby
Henri Matisse lived at the villa Le Reve in Vence from 1943 to 1948. Here he created a sensuous world, bringing to Vence all the objects without which he could not draw and paint - jugs, vases, tables and chairs, shells, fabrics. A young Russian-born photographer, Helerie Adant, often came to visit her cousin Lydia Delectorskaya, who was Matisse's model and assistant from 1935 onwards. Adant's photographs are a unique record, a series of freeze-frames that reveal the nature of Matisse's preparations for his art: perhaps an ornate Venetian chair partners a wrought-iron table displaying a yellow pitcher and melons; a pot of lilies or an octagonal Moroccan table are added. Matisse, hat on head, draws his Haitian model wearing a frilled blouse that Lydia has provided for the sitting. Marie-France Boyer's text evokes the particular atmosphere of Le Reve, where Matisse produced Yellow and Blue Interior of 1946, Large Red Interior of 1948 and many other important works. This beautifully designed book reproduces over fifty of Helene Adant's 'backstage' photographs, as well as several of Matisse's famous Vence interiors in colour and a number of drawings. At the heart of the book lie Matisse's props as they are arranged and rearranged, eventually to be fixed in some of the greatest paintings of the 20th century.