Matisse certainly appreciated this gap in his art. In the summer of 1940, seeing by chance a young Turkish woman, he is seduced by the regularity of her oriental face. Nézy is 21 years old. Great-granddaughter of Sultan Abdul Hamid, she lives in exile in Nice with her grandmother who accepts that she sits for the artist.
Matisse became seriously ill. Emerging from a long hospitalization in May 1941, he returned to his workshop at the Hôtel Régina. Considering his healing as an unexpected luck, he goes back to an intense work, realizing many drawings of his two muses of that time, Lydia and Nézy.
Painted in January 1942, the Odalisque au fauteuil noir is a portrait of Nézy. This oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm is the culmination of the oriental theme by Matisse. The realistic depiction is limited to the face and arm along with a vase of flowers on a small table. Clothing and decor are a symphony of colors that anticipates the researches of the abstract expressionism.
The Odalisque was sold for £ 6.6M including premium at Christie's on 22 June 2004. It is estimated £ 9M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on February 3, lot 7.