Finding aid for the Frances Brody La Gerbe (The Sheaf) Collection, 1953-1956. BRO.001.001

Finding aid written by Jessica Gambling
Finding aid creation made possible with a grant from the Getty Foundation as a part of the special initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art Balch Art Research Library
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Business Number: 323-857-6118
Fax Number: 323-857-4790

Contributing Institution: Los Angeles County Museum of Art Balch Art Research Library
Title: La Gerbe (The Sheaf) collection, the archives of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody, LACMA
Creator: Brody, Frances L.
Creator: Matisse, Henri, 1869-1954--La Gerbe (The Sheaf)
Identifier/Call Number: BRO.001.001
Identifier/Call Number: 4
Physical Description: 1.5 Linear Feet 1 Solander box
Date (inclusive): 1953-1956
Language of Material: English .

Biographical Note

Frances Lasker Brody (1916-2009) was born in Chicago, IL to Flora and advertising pioneer Albert Lasker. She met Sidney F. Brody while serving in a volunteer ambulance corps during World War II and they were married in 1942. The Brodys moved to Los Angeles after the war and Mr. Brody became a successful developer of shopping centers. The couple became important patrons of the arts in Southern California including their active support of and involvement with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where Sidney Brody served on the Board of Trustees from the museum's founding as an independant entity in 1961 until his death in 1983 (serving in the offices of Vice President, President, and Chairman successively between 1961 and 1973).
In 1951, Mr. and Mrs. Brody commissioned a new home designed by architect A. Quincy Jones. A central feature of the house is a large central patio with one large blank wall. The Brodys considered hanging a painting protected from the elements by a glass enclosure but realized that there would be no way to protect the work from the fading effects of the California sun.
In early 1952 the Brodys decided to contact Henri Matisse through Pierre Matisse, his son and dealer in the United States, to commission a ceramic work for their patio wall. Henri Matisse expressed interest in the project and worked on several proposals even before knowing the exact size of the wall. He showed the Brodys a full-scale paper cutout when they visited him at his home in Cimiez (Nice, France) in 1952. The couple rejected this first design (that cut out is now in the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and a ceramic version, Apollo, is in the Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Ohio) but accepted a subsequent proposal. Matisse also produced a full-scale paper cut out of the composition, which the Brodys acquired and later gave to the University of California Los Angeles Grunwald Center.
Henri Matisse completed work on La Gerbe (The Sheaf) shortly before his death. The ceramic arrived at the Brodys' home in 1954 in two crates containing 15 individually packed pieces. It was assembled and installed in the Brodys' patio according to instructions provided by Henri Mattisse and remained there until it was removed and installed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in September 2010, donated by Mrs. Brody at her death as pledged on the occasion of the museum's 25th anniversary in 1986.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes magazines and clippings, letters, photographs, and color swatches pertaining to the commissioning of the ceramic tile La Gerbe (The Sheaf) by Francis L. and Sidney F. Brody from Henri Matisse. These materials include a vintage color photograph depicting La Gerbe (The Sheath), installed at the Brody home, and two black and white photographs depicting Henri Matisse at work with the ceramic and the crates the work was shipped to California in.
Also included are a letter from Pierre Matisse to Francis L. Brody, and a narrative and accompanying letter by Francis L. Brody sent to Albert M. Frankfurter, editor of Art News magazine. A line cut diagram and instructions for laying out and installing the work, provided by Henri Matisse, are also present. Issues of Paris Match and Art News magazines in the collection include articles about the work as well as photographs of Matisse at work at his home near the end of his life. The issue of Art News in the collection includes portions of the narrative written by Mrs. Brody and sent to Albert M. Frankfurter.
The 19 swatches in the collection were hand cut and colored by Henri Matisse and sent to the Brodys with the hope that they could find a ceramicist in California capable of reproducing the colors and executing the design. When this proved not feasible, it was decided to fabricate the tile in parts in France and ship them to Los Angeles for final assembly.

Acquisition note

Acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Modern Art Department from the estate of Frances L. Brody.

Processing Information

This collection was transferred to an archivally stable Solander box and acid free paper sleeves and folders by the Conservation Department of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in February 2011. In April 2011, Jessica Gambling created this finding aid.

Access instructions

Library staff: For access to this collection contact Stephanie Barron and/or Lauren Bergman on behalf of the researcher.

Conditions Governing Access

Access to this collection is restricted. Please contact the Balch Research Library for further information at 323-356-6118 or

Conditions Governing Use

Contact the Balch Research Library for information on publishing or reproducing materials included in these records. Permission is granted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the owner of the physical materials, and does not imply permission from the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all necessary permissions from the copyright holder.

Credit Line

This credit line must accompany any image of an item from this collection.
The archives of Frances L. Brody, now at LACMA

Bibliographic Citation

This format to be used when making a bibliographic citation to this archival collection.
[Description of Item], The Frances L. Brody La Gerbe (The Sheaf) Collection, the archives of Mrs. Sidney F. Brody now at LACMA, BRO.001.001.

Separated Materials

In 2013, the following 19 guache on paper color samples for La Gerbe (The Sheaf) were designated as artwork and accessioned with the museum numbers M.2013.136.1-.19.
.1) Orange-red; .2) Light orange; .3) Dark orange; .4) Fuscia; .5) Purple; .6) White; .7) Green; .8) Light green; .9) Neon green; .10) Light blue; .11) Dark blue; .12) Yellow; .13) Light red; .14) Pink; .15) Fuscia flower; .16) Emerald green; .17) Dark brown; .18) Light brown; .19) Red

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Letters (correspondence)
Mural painting and decoration -- 20th century
Clippings (information artifacts)
Ceramic sculpture -- 20th century
Magazines (periodicals)
Art patrons
Art donors
Art commissions
Matisse, Henri

box 1, folder 1

Vintage color print mounted on black board. La Gerbe (The Sheaf) installed in the patio of the Sidney F. and Frances L. Brody residence. 384 circa 1955

box 1, folder 2

Leaf from Paris Match. Number 294. 13-20 Nov. 1954 385

Language of Material: French.
box 1, folder 5

Art News. V. 55, N. 4. June, July, August 1956. With the artical "Matisse's last mural installed in California." 388

box 1, folder 5

Paris Match. N. 294. 13-20 November, 1954. With the artical "Matisse ses derniers jours ses derniere ouvres." 389

Language of Material: French.
box 1, folder 6

Line cut diagram of the components of La Gerbe (The Sheaf). 390 circa 1953

box 1, folder 7

Instructions for laying out and assembling La Gerbe (The Sheaf). 391 circa 1953

box 1, folder 7

Letter from Pierre Matisse to Frances L. Brody. 392 February 23, 1954

box 1, folder 7

Narrative by Frances L. Brody describing the commissioning and execution of La Gerbe (The Sheaf) with cover letter to Alfred M. Frankfurter of Art News magazine. 393 April 5, 1956

box 1, folder 8

Two mounted black and white prints. One photograph of pieces of La Gerbe (The Sheaf) in shipping crates. One photograph of Henri Matisse with two unidentified men at a work table. 394 circa 1953, 1954


Matted color photograph of Matisse in his studio. 64671