Rare Henri Matisse-Illustrated Edition of ‘Ulysses’ Heads to Auction

Henri Matisse.
biography.com.
Cover of the Matisse-illustrated James Joyce novel, Ulysses. Photo: courtesy of Bonhams.

Cover of the Matisse-illustrated James Joyce novel, Ulysses.
Photo: courtesy of Bonhams.

A special book collaboration between one of the 20th century’s greatest artists and one of its greatest writers will hit the auction block at Bonhams on June 24.

Part of the auction houses’ Fine Book and Manuscripts sale, the Henri Matisse-illustrated edition of Ulysses was published in 1935 and is signed by both the artist and the author, James Joyce. It has a limited run of 250 (1,500 were printed, but not all were signed) and is estimated at £6,000 – 8,000 ($9,200–$12,000). The total collection has a high estimate of $458,500, according to Art Daily.

In the early 1930s, Matisse was paid $5,000 for his Odyssey-inspired etchings, which were commissioned by George Macy, the founder of the Limited Editions Club. Matisse’s mythical Nausicaa design is embossed in gold on the front cover, displaying four shapely nudes enclosed in a sphere with Roman numerals forming a celestial clock. The spine is gilt.

Complete with black and white illustrations by Matisse, the book seems to be quite the steal at $12,000, as another first edition is selling for $30,000 online.

“Lovely forms of women sculped Junonian. Immortal lovely,” Joyce wrote in Ulysses.

Matisse illustration in 1935 Ulysses edition. Photo: via Brain pickings.

Matisse illustration in 1935 Ulysses edition.
Photo: via Brainpickings.org.

Henri Matisse, etching for Ylysses. Photo: Brainpickings.com.

Henri Matisse, etching for Ylysses.
Photo: Brainpickings.org.

Another notable lot in the sale includes a signed first edition of Ulysses, which was given to Lewis Galantiere, an American translator of French literature, who was living in Paris when he met the Irish author. The February 11, 1922 copy, which is estimated to sell between $92,000-120,000, is the earliest known presentation copy besides the one Joyce gifted to his wife Nora, on February 2, 1922—the date of its actual first publication.

Berenice Abott, James Joyce (1982). Photo: courtesy of Artpress/ Bonhams.

Berenice Abott, James Joyce (1982).
Photo: courtesy of Artpress/ Bonhams.


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