About This Artwork

Henri Matisse
French, 1869–1954

Lemons on a Pewter Plate, 1926 (reworked in 1929)

Oil on canvas
21 5/8 x 26 1/8 in. (55.6 x 67.1 cm)
Signed, l.r.: "Henri-Matisse"

A Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation, 1999.371

© 2016 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Beginning in 1917, Henri Matisse spent most winters in the southern French city of Nice. The warm light there transformed the artist’s work profoundly, leading him to comment: "If I had painted in the north . . . my painting would have been different. There would have been browns, grays, shadings of color through perspective." Painted during one of his sojourns to Nice, this picture’s challenging spatial construction, palpable paint texture, and patterned background recall the still lifes of Paul Cézanne. The artist was especially on Matisse’s mind when he began this composition in 1926: the same year, Matisse’s dealer staged a posthumous retrospective of over 50 of Cézanne’s major works.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Paris, 19, quai Saint-Michel, Salon des Indépendants, March 20–May 2, 1926, cat. 1164, as Nature morte (citrons, plat d’étain).

Berlin, Galerien Thannhauser, Henri Matisse, February–March 1930, pp. 18, 27 (ill.), cat. 56, as Zitronenstilleben.

Kunsthalle Basle, Henri Matisse, August 9–September 15, 1931, p. 16, cat. 78, Les Citrons au plat d’étain.

Paris, Petit Palais, Les Maitres de l’Art Independent, 1897–1937, June–October 1937, p. 38, cat. 46, as Les citrons.

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Henri Matisse: Paintings and Drawings of 1918–1938, November–December 1938, cat. 2.

New York, French Pavilion, New York World’s Fair, 1939.

San Francisco, M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, Seven Centuries of Painting: A Loan Exhibition of Old and Modern Masters, December 29, 1939–January 28, 1940, cat. Y–184.

New York, Pierre Matisse Gallery, Henri Matisse: Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, 1898–1939, February 1943, cat. 18.

New York, Valentine Gallery, The Lee Ault Collection: Modern Paintings, April 10–29, 1944, n.p., cat. 28 (ill.), as Citrons.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Henri Matisse: Retrospective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, April–May 1948, p. 40, cat. 69 (ill.).

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse, November 13, 1951–January 13, 1952, p. 10, cat. 60; traveled to Cleveland Museum of Art, February 5–March 16, 1952, Art Institute of Chicago, April 1–May 4, 1952, San Francisco, Museum of Modern Art, May 22–July 6, 1952.

Los Angeles, Municipal Department of Art, Henri Matisse: Selections from the Museum of Modern Art Retrospective, July–August 1952; traveled to Portland, Oreg., Portland Art Museum, September–October 1952, cat. 38.

Los Angeles, University of California Art Galleries, Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966, January 5–February 27, 1966; traveled to Art institute of Chicago, March 11–April 24, 1966, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, May 11–June 26, 1966, pp. 16, 94 (ill.), 190, cat. 65 (ill.), as Citrons sur plat d’étain.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse: Sixty-four Paintings, July–September 1966, p. 47 (ill.), 62, cat. 47.

New London, Lyman Allen Museum, Paintings and Sculpture from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Cummings, January 19–February 18, 1968

London, Hayward Gallery, Matisse, July 4–September 8, 1968, pp. 128 (ill.), 165, cat. 100.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Selections from The Nathan Cummings Collection, June 28–September 11, 1970, pp. 45 (ill.), 96, cat. 31; traveled to new York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, July1–September 7, 1971.

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Summer Loan 1971: Paintings from New York Private Collections, July 1–September 7, 1971, pp. 45 (ill.), 96, cat. 31.

Art Institute of Chicago, Major Works in the Collection of Nathan Cummings, October 20–December 9, 1973, p. 37 (ill.), cat. 28.

Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Henri Matisse; The Early Years in Nice, 1916–1930, November 2, 1986–March 29, 1987, cat. 149.

Singapore, Museum of Art, Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara Lee Corporation, April 1-May 30, 1999; Canberra, traveled to National Gallery of Australia, June 11-August 22, 1999; Raleigh, North Carolina Museum of Art, September 10–November 7, 1999; Oregon, Portland Art Museum, November 19, 1999-January 25, 2000; and the Art Institute of Chicago, March 15-May 28, 2000

Publication History

“Henri Matisse (Galerien Thannhauser),” Cahiers d’Art (Cahiers d’Art, Paris: 1930), vol. 5, p. 107, (ill.).
Egger, Carl, Henri Matisse, (Kunsthalle Basel, 1931), p. 16, cat. 78, Les Citrons au plat d’étain.

Zervos, Christian, ed., L’oeuvre de Henri Matisse (Cahiers d’Art, Paris: 1931), vol. 5, (ill.) opp. p. 96.
Davidson, M., “Recent Matisse Anthology,” Art News (November 19, 1938), p. 12.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Henri Matisse: Retropsective Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture exh. cat. (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1948), p. 40, cat. 69 (ill.).

Barr, Alfred H., Jr., Matisse: His Art and His Public, (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1951), pp. 27 (ill.), 215, 450 (ill.), 451, as Lemons on a Pewter Plate, Citrons sur plat d’étain..

Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse exh. cat. (New York, Museum of Modern Art, 1951), p. 10, cat. 60.
UNESCO, Catalogue des reproductions en couleurs de paintures, 1860–1959 (Paris: UNESCO, 1959), pp. 236, 237 (ill.), cat. 638.

Gowing, Lawrence, , Henri Matisse: Sixty-four Paintings exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1966), p. 47 (ill.), 62, cat. 47.

Leymarie, Jean, Herbert Read, and William S. Lieberman, Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966 exh. cat. (University of California Los Angeles Art Council, 1966), pp. 16, 94 (ill.), 190, cat. 65 (ill.), as Citrons sur plat d’étain.

Arts Council of Great Britain, Matisse exh. cat. (London: Hayward Gallery, 1968), pp. 128 (ill.), 165, cat. 100.

Luzi, Mario and Massimo Carrá, L’opera di Matisse, dalla rivolta ‘fauve’ all’intimismo, 1904–1928 (Rizzoli, 1971), p. 104 (ill.), cat. 449, as Limoni su un piatto di stagno.

Watkins, Nicholas, Matisse (Phaidon Press, Oxford: 1977), pl. 34 (ill.).

Schneider, Pierre, Matisse, trans. by Michael Taylor and Bridget Stevens Romer, New York: Rizzoli, 1984, no. 449, (ill.).

Dauberville, Guy-Patrice and Michel Dauberville, Matisse: Henri Matisse chez Bernheim-Jeune, Paris (Editions Bernheim-Jeune, Paris: 1995), vol. 2, p. 1256, (ill.), cat. 661, as Les citrons.

Brettell, Richard, An Impressionist Legacy: The Collection of Sara Lee Corporation (1986), pp. 40 (ill.), 100–03, 158–9 and front cover).

Artner, Alan G., “Sara Lee Takes its Art to New Level: Art Institute gets the Bulk of $100 Million Gift,” Chicago Tribune (Wednesday, June 3, 1988), Art Sec., pp. 1 (ill.), 14.

Dobrzynski, Judith H., “Sara Lee is Donating Impressionist Art to 20 U.S. Museums,” New York Times (Wednesday, June 3, 1988), Sec. A, p. 1 (ill.), Sec. B, pp. 1, 8.

Lafuente, Della de, “Art Institute Scores in Sara Lee Giveaway,” Chicago Sun-Times (Wednesday, June 3, 1988), pp. 1 (ill.), 2.

Christie’s New York, Impressionist ans Modern Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture (Part I), lot 26 (April 30, 1996), pp. 66–67 (ill.), 68 (detail ill.).

Ebony, David, “Spring Auctions Hold Steady—Art Auctions,” Art in America 84, no. 7 (July 1996).

Girard, Xavier, Matisse a Nice: 1917–1954 (Paris: Editions Assouline, 1996), pp. 33 (ill.), 76 (ill.).

Lumley, John, 1996 Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Review (1996 or 1997), p.? (ill.) as Les citrons au plat d’étain.

Brettell, Richard, Monet to Moore: The Millennium Gift of Sara lee Corporation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), pp. xviii (ill.).


Wood, James N., and Debra N. Mancoff, Treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2000), p. 267 (ill.).

Ownership History

Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, probably acquired directly from the artist, by November 1938 [New York 1938 and Brettell 1999]. Mr. and Mrs. Lee Ault, New Canaan, Conn., by April 1944–at least 1951 [New York 1944 and Barr 1951]. Nathan Cummings, New York, Chicago, and Palm Beach, Fla., by 1966–1985 [Los Angeles 1966]; by descent to his wife, Joanne Toor Cummings, New York, Chicago, and Palm Beach, Fla., 1985–1996; purchased from Christie’s, New York sale April 30, 1996, lot 26, by The Sara Lee Collection, Chicago, April 30, 1996–1999; given to the Art Institute, 1999.




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