Henri Matisse Illustrates 1935 Edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses

matisse ulysses front page

A cou­ple weeks back, we men­tioned that you can down­load a fine­ly-read audio ver­sion of James Joyce’s Ulysses for free. What that ver­sion does­n’t include — and could­n’t include — are etch­ings by Hen­ri Matisse. Back in the mid-1930s, George Macey, an Amer­i­can pub­lish­er, approached the cel­e­brat­ed painter and asked him how many etch­ings he could pro­vide for $5,000. Although it’s wide­ly believed that Matisse nev­er read Joyce’s sprawl­ing clas­sic (despite being giv­en a French trans­la­tion of the text), he did come back with 26 full-page illus­tra­tions, all of them based on six themes from Home­r’s Odyssey, the epic poem that Ulysses con­scious­ly plays upon. In 1935, an illus­trat­ed edi­tion of Ulysses was print­ed. Matisse signed 1500 copies; Joyce only 250. And today a copy signed by both artists will run you a cool $37k. Buy, hey, the ship­ping is only $6.

Odysseus Blind­ing Polyphe­mus


Odysseus and Nau­si­caa

ulysses matisse drawing

Odysseus’ Ship


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