Circus, Plate II from Jazz, 1947. Henri Matisse. Pochoir. Gift of Lila Acheson Wallace, 1983. © 2019 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
In addition to his bold innovations in painting and sculpture, Matisse produced several extraordinary artists’ books, the majority of which were made after a bout with intestinal cancer in 1941 that left him largely bedridden. This plate is one of twenty made to illustrate his groundbreaking book Jazz. Despite its musical title—likely named for the experimental, improvisational nature of its compositions—the book’s dominant themes are the circus and theater. The illustrations derive from maquettes of cut and pasted colored papers, which were printed using a stencil technique known as pochoir.