Henri Matisse: etching for James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (1935) University of Delaware:
James Joyce, 1882-1941. Ulysses; with an introduction by Stuart Gilbert and illustrations by Henri Matisse. New York: The Limited Editions Club, 1935.
The French painter Henri Matisse (1869-1954) revolutionized art in the early twentieth century. His work for Ulysses includes six original copperplate etchings and twenty photogravure reproductions of studies for the etchings on colored paper. The images depict subjects found in Homer’s Odyssey rather than Joyce’s recasting of the epic from OpenCulture: 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.