Preface page from Portuguese Letters, 1946

Lithographs, letterpressexpand_more

Gift of Bruce B. Daytonexpand_more  B.85.4.2

Not on Viewexpand_more

Portuguese Letters purports to be an old autobiography by Marianna Alcaforado who, abandoned by her faithless lover the French officer, seeks refuge in a convent. The story is told in deeply emotional letters written by the despairing Marianna.

A Russian model, Doucia Retinsky, figures in the sequence of nun “portraits” that runs throughout the final volume’s printed text. Whereas the nun’s expressions are often sad or resigned, Matisse counters their mood with a variety of images of abundance filling margins around the text. If we feel Marianna’s despair, the unfulfilled passion that brims within her is also evoked in Matisse’s spirited descriptions of ripe pomegranates and other tropical fruits and flowers printed in violet ink.

Preface page from Portuguese Letters
Artist Life
Accession Number
Catalogue Raisonne
Garvey 199 Rauch 170 Barr 271, 560, 273 Lieberman 29 Cramer no. 26
Curator Approved

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