Ulysses. Illustrations by Henri Matisse. Limited Signed Edition (1935)
Author: James Joyce
Book ID: 65168
Ulysses. With an Introduction by Stuart Gilbert and Illustrations by Henri Matisse. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935. Large quarto, original gilt-stamped pictorial brown cloth, uncut, publisher’s original cardboard slipcase. A fine bright copy. [Slocum & Cahoon A22].
One of only 250 Copies Signed by James Joyce and Henri Matisse, [from a total edition of 1500 copies].
A UNIQUE COLLABORATION BETWEEN ARGUABLY THE GREATEST WRITER AND THE GREATEST ARTIST OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY.
The 26 beautiful full-page illustrations by Matisse accompany the text of Joyce’s Ulysses, including six soft-ground etchings with reproductions of the sketches on blue and yellow paper. Joyce only signed about 250 copies; apparently irked that Matisse’s illustrations depicted the characters from Homer’s Ulysses, not his own version of it.
The publication was oversubscribed and copies bearing the signatures of both Joyce & Matisse were highly sought after by members of the Limited Editions Club. The publishers intended holding a lottery among its members to decide who would receive a double-signed copy, however they were prevented from doing so by New York State law. Matisse had never visited Ireland and so Joyce asked his friend and fellow Dubliner, T.W. Pugh, to send him an illustrated magazine from 1904, the year in which Ulysses is set, so that he could correctly render the details of Dublin life. However, Matisse chose to base his etchings on Homer’s Odyssey, depicting the Calypso, Aelous, Cyclops, Nausicaa, Circe and Ithaca episodes of the poem. When asked why he had not illustrated the events of Joyce’s novel, he replied: ‘Je ne l’ai pas lu’ (‘I have not read it’; Ellmann, 686). Nevertheless, his etchings for this edition are outstanding examples of his art, offsetting strong, neo-classical figure drawing with a sparing use of half tone. The etching of the blinding of Polyphemus by Ulysses is a particularly powerful image. Matisse’s preparatory sketches between two and five for each etching, printed on yellow and blue sheets of various sizes are in several cases very different from the finished image.
The text for this edition is based on that of the Odyssey Press (second impression, 1933; Slocum & Cahoon A20), which was revised by Stuart Gilbert at the request of James Joyce.