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Deux papillons sur un vase bleu
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About the item

Deux papillons sur un vase bleu, painted in 1948, is a wonderful example of Légers mature oeuvre, which exemplifies his firm commitment to figuration and his fascination with the expressive potential of color. After five years of wartime exile, Léger joyously returned to France in December 1945. In "Art and the People," a 1946 article published in the journal Arts de France, Léger declared, "I want to tell what I felt in returning to France, the joy I have had in rediscovering my country... I assure you that the people have made a great advance in France. I assure you that a magnificent evolution has come about... I have faith in France" (quoted in Edward F. Fry, ed., Fernand Léger, Functions of Painting, New York, 1973, pp. 147-48). Throughout the post-war years, Léger developed a recognizable style at the heart of which were black contours and pure, intense color that gave his works a fresh and strongly graphic effect. As Léger describes, "I placed objects in space so that I could not place an object on a table without diminishing its value. I selected an object, chucked the table away. I put the object in space, minus the perspective. Minus anything to hold it there. I then had to liberate colour to an even greater extent" (quoted in Dora Vallier, "La Vie Fait loeuvre de Fernand Léger" in Cahiers darts, no. 2, Paris, 1954, pp. 152-53).\n\nThe present spirited, colorful and pulsing Deux papillons sur un vase bleu carries forward, in Léger's more freely composed and organic post-war style, the precedents of the great nature morte compositions he had created during the 1920s. The varying plasticity of the objects and their compelling arrangement do not represent a likeness of the natural world. Rather, Léger renders the pictorial elements with sharp clarity, articulating the figural elements' contours with bold, black lines. The colors are fully saturated, voluminous and substantial, creating a work of magnificent visual presence.\n\nThe artist explained the essence of his aesthetic as follows: "I apply the law of contrasts... I organize the opposition of contrasting values, lines, and curves. I oppose curves to straight lines, flat surfaces to molded forms, pure local colors to nuances of grey. These initial plastic forms are either superimposed on objective elements or not, it makes no difference to me. There is only a question of variety" (quoted in Fry, ibid., 1973, pp. 24-25).\nSigned F. Leger and dated 48 (lower right); signed F. Leger, titled and dated .48 (on the reverse)
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

Léger, Fernand

condition

The canvas is unlined. The pigments are very fresh and strong. There is an extremely small fleck of paint loss to the white pigment in the lower foreground. When examined under UV light: The canvas is clean. The painting is in very good condition. In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.

dimensions

36 1/4 by 25 5/8 in.

exhibition

Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh International Exhibition of Painters, 1950, no. 126, illustrated in the catalogue Malmo, Sweden, Moderna Museet Malmo, Klee, Laurens, Léger, Picasso, Rouault, Villon, 1952, no. 42

literature

Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, 1944-1948, vol. VII, Paris, 2003, no. 1283, illustrated in color p. 198

provenance

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (acquired directly from the artist) John L. Nielsen, Chicago (and sold: Christie's, London, March 29, 1982, lot 37) Private Collection (and sold: Christie’s, New York, November 20, 1998, lot 763) Private Collection (acquired at the above sale and sold: Christie’s, New York, November 7, 2001, lot 277) Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

signedDate

Signed F. Leger and dated 48 (lower right); signed F. Leger, titled and dated .48 (on the reverse)

time_period

Painted in 1948.

time_range_end

1948

artist_range_end

1955

time_range_start

1948

artist_range_start

1881

creator_nationality_dates

1881 - 1955





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