About This Artwork

Henri Matisse
French, 1869–1954

The Serf, 1900/04

91.5 x 30.5 x 34.3 cm (36 x 12 x 13 1/2 in.)
Signed on base, l. rear: "Henri Matisse 1/10"

Edward E. Ayer Endowment in memory of Charles L. Hutchinson, 1949.202

© 2018 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse often turned to sculpture early in his career in an attempt "to put order into my feelings and find a style to suit me." More than half of his total output of sculpture dates to between 1900 and 1909, and these works reveal a deep interest in the human figure, as well as ancient and Old Master works of art. The Serf, one of Matisse’s earliest sculptures, consumed him: he was reported to have spent up to 500 sessions with his model, Bevilaqua, who also posed for Auguste Rodin. The Art Institute’s work is an early cast (1908) of a total edition of 10 and was once owned by Matisse’s most enthusiastic early supporters, Michael and Sarah Stein.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

New York, Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse, November 13, 1951–January 13, 1952, p. 11, cat. 76 (ill.); 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.

Publication History

Museum of Modern Art, Henri Matisse exh. cat. (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1952), p. 11, cat. 76 (ill.).

Duthuit, Claude, Henri Matisse: Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre sculpté (Paris, 1997), pp. 10–12, cat. 6, as Le Serf—L’Esclave, The Serf—The Slave.

Wood, James N. and Debra N. Mancoff, Treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2000), p. 228 (ill.).

Ownership History

Michael (died 1938) and Sarah Stein, Paris and San Francisco [Duthuit 1997]. Earl Stendahl Gallery, Hollywood, Calif. ; sold to Art Institute, 1949.

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