Three Nudes in a Landscape

matulka3nudesaJan Matulka (1890-1972), Three Nudes in a Landscape, drypoint, 1923, not signed. Reference: Flint 5, no edition, only several proofs were made. In very good condition, some soiling verso and some inky marks including fingerprints in margins (as characteristic of an artist’s proof), printed in black ink on an ivory laid paper with a bull in a circle (?) watermark, the full sheet with margins and deckle edges, 14 1/16 x 10 13/16, the sheet 15 5/8 x 11 5/8 inches, achival mounting with non-attached mylar hinging, window mat.

A fine fresh and rich impression of a rare proof (no edition is known), with extensive burr from the drypoint work, and a substantial layering of plate tone. It is quite unusual to encounter prints by Matulka – signed or not- in today’s art market, particularly since he often seemed to produce these prints in very limited numbers, without regard to making them in editions.

Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1890, Jan Matulka came to New York City in 1907, eventually becoming a leading American modernist. From 1908 to 1917 he studied at the National Academy of Design, and in 1917, received the first Pulitzer traveling scholarship enabling him to work Southwest and Florida. In 1919, he first went to Paris, where he was exposed to European modernism (especially Cubism).

Three Nudes reflects both the realism that was always a theme in Matulka’s work and also a Cubist idiom that he was to work with through the years. Matulka often varied his approach from rather conventional realism to cutting edge modernism, even during the same periods.

Matulka had his first one-man exhibit in New York City in 1925. His reputation as an iconoclast and loner, oblivious to the workings of the art world, prevented him from achieving the fame that was his due during his lifetime, but he has gained substantial and increasing recognition, especially among artists and curators, in recent years. He continued to paint until he died, in New York City, in 1972.