Henri Matisse Artwork Details
Edition: 77/100. There were also 25 Hors Commerce proofs made numbered I to XXV.
Claude Duthuit: Henri Matisse :Catalogue raisonee des ouvrages illustres” number 38
Published by: The Heritage of the Artist, Paris, France
Printed by: Fequet et Baudier, Paris, France
Note 1: The book by Montherlant was originally published in 1944 illustrated with original linocuts by Henri Matisse. The artist made a number of plates for this which were never used and many years after his death in 1981, these were used for a new work also called “Pasiphae”. Once the plates had been used to strike 100 prints, however they were effaced this time never to be used again. The paper used was left over from the 1944 edition. Matisse favored linoleum engraving because it captured the subtle movements of his hand. He began with a thick block of linoleum and used a knife or gouge to carve the soft surface. Ink was then applied to the uncarved sections before being pressed to paper. In the Pasiphaé linocuts, the black ink creates a timeless setting for the emotions captured by the simple white lines. The illustration is of he famous bull.
Note 2: PASIPHAE was an immortal daughter of the sun-god Helios who possessed the powers of witchcraft (pharmakeia). Pasiphae married King Minos of Crete, and bore him a number of sons and daughters. However, as punishment for some offense against the gods committed either by herself or her husband, she was cursed with the desire to be coupled with the king's finest bull. The Queen conscripted the great artisan Daidalos to assist her in the endeavor, and he built for her a hollow wooden cow, wrapped in a bovine skin and endowed with mechanical life. Hiding herself inside this contraption she conceived and bore a hybrid child, the bull-headed Minotaur. Pasiphae's husband Minos also proved unfaithful. When the Queen learned of his indiscretions she cast a spell on him which caused him to ejaculate poisoned creatures and so destroy his lovers. Pasiphae herself, being an immortal, was alone immune. Minos was eventually cured by the Athenian girl Prokris who devised a remedy for his strange affliction.
Pasiphae was an early Cretan moon-goddess, similar to the classical Selene. Both her taurine lover and her Minotaur son, who was also named Asterios (the starry one), were associated with the constellation Taurus.