Matisse explores several paths in parallel including the pointillisme inspired by Signac and it is Fauvisme that raises its reputation in 1905. Soon afterward the first encounters of European artists with African tribal art convince him of the possibility to derogate from the forms of nature.
During his stays in Collioure Matisse frequently meets Maillol in Banyuls. Maillol endeavors to simplify the nude to achieve the purity in perfect proportions. They have complementary approaches that both release the nude from Rodin's muscular eroticism.
In 1907 in Collioure, Matisse designs Nu allongé I, 34 x 50 x 29 cm. The torsion of the body could evoke Rodin but the hypertrophied raised elbow announces a new style. This artwork will be nicknamed L'Aurore (dawn) by comparison of the robust attitude with the famous funerary marble by Michelangelo. In the same year his Nu bleu is a pictorial projection of the Nu allongé I. This painting will be often imitated by Picasso and inaugurates the lifelong competition between these two artists.
Matisse's priority is painting but he also makes bronzes, sparingly. During his lifetime only eleven bronzes of the Nu allongé I are cast, the last one being an artist's proof. They are distributed from 1908 to 1951 in no less than five different casts.
The first three bronzes were edited in Paris around 1908 by Bingen et Costenoble who were also working for Maillol. One of them is estimated £ 5M for sale by Phillips in London on March 8, lot 9. Two later copies had fetched a very high price at auction for their time : $ 8.4M by Christie's on November 9, 1999 for one of the two 1912 bronzes and $ 9.6M by Phillips on May 7, 2001 for one of the three 1930 bronzes.
SOLD for £ 15M including premium