Artwork Historical past Information: Sotheby’s Auctions on 7 October, November 14 2022: Picasso, Mondrian


EST. HK$60M – 80M/ US$7.7M – 10M

This Autumn in Hong Kong, for the fourth consecutive season[1], Sotheby’s will as soon as once more current an distinctive work by Pablo Picasso in Asia. Making its public sale debut, and unseen in public for greater than thirty years, Femme assise à la galette des rois – a loving portrait of the artist’s second spouse, Jacqueline Roque – will lead Sotheby’s Hong Kong Fashionable Artwork Night Public sale on 7 October with an estimate of HK$60-80 million / US$7.7-10 million.

Picasso first met Jacqueline in 1952 on the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris within the South of France; she shortly turned his lover and muse and would stay by his facet proper up till his demise in 1973. No different determine looms bigger in Picasso’s life and artwork than Jacqueline – of all the ladies related to Picasso, it was Jacqueline who would characteristic most frequently as his topic. Her legendary options first appeared in Picasso’s output in 1954 and the next 20 years, which artwork historian John Richardson known as “l’epoque Jacqueline”, reveal the important position she performed in Picasso’s late inventive profession.

In Femme assise à la galette des rois, though the sitter’s picture has been partially abstracted, the darkish eyebrows, the superbly curved eyelids and the agency, straight nostril are unmistakably these of Jacqueline. Picasso depicts his spouse as an all-seeing classical magnificence, invested with a way of regal authority with a crown positioned upon her head. Jacqueline can also be seen holding the galette des rois (King Cake), a cake historically baked to have a good time the Epiphany, containing a small appeal or figurine inside bestowing the moniker of “king for a day” on whomever finds it. This charming element presents a private perception into the lifetime of the artist and his muse, and evokes an environment of playful celebration that encapsulates their life collectively as a pair.

The colourful palette of inexperienced, black and gold, and the comparatively formal nature of Jacqueline’s posture, replicate the affect on Picasso of Outdated Masters akin to Velázquez. All through the Sixties, Picasso turned repeatedly to the reinterpretation and investigation of the artists of the previous that he revered, a course of by means of which he reaffirmed his lineage to among the best painters within the historical past of artwork. These achievements had been made potential by the loving firm of Jacqueline who impressed a lot of his most important compositions of the interval.

Femme assise à la galette des rois involves public sale from a Swiss non-public assortment and has remained within the possession of the identical household for over 50 years. In 1988 (to 1989), the portray was included in Picasso’s main retrospective on the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Now, some three a long time later, the general public will as soon as extra have a protracted overdue alternative to understand Picasso’s visually gorgeous portray of the ladies who meant a lot to him.

The work will probably be introduced alongside a choice of work by internationally famend Fashionable masters, together with Pierre Soulages’ Peinture 195 x 130 cm, 3 décembre 1956 – a uncommon large-scale composition by the summary artist, Joan Miró’s Personnage dans la nuit – a strikingly vibrant work that includes Miró’s iconic motifs, Sanyu’s Branches – one of many artist’s largest flower work, and Zao Wou-Ki’s 15.02.65 – a seminal work from his acclaimed Hurricane Interval.



“There are few artists who’ve staked such an audacious declare within the historical past of Fashionable artwork as Piet Mondrian, whose grid-style of summary portray is a really singular achievement in portray historical past. Composition No. II is an plain masterwork by the artist, bearing the signature hallmarks of Mondrian’s groundbreaking, elemental method to composition – black traces, types of main colours, and geometric precision. The work hums with an electrical energy that mirrors the vitality of portray in Europe presently and stays as very important because it did when it was painted almost 100 years in the past.”


In his current evaluation of Hans Janssen’s newly translated biography of the Dutch Fashionable grasp Piet Mondrian, The New Yorker artwork critic Peter Schjeldahl locations the artist alongside solely Picasso because the premier progenitors of twentieth-century portray: “Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian are, to me, the dual groundbreakers of twentieth-century European pictorial artwork: Picasso the best painter who modernized picture-making, and Mondrian the best modernizer who painted.” As one of many earliest and most progressive creators of really summary portray, Mondrian shouldn’t be solely among the many cornerstone figures of Fashionable artwork, but additionally among the many nice Dutch masters, in firm with Rembrandt and Van Gogh, who revolutionized portray and the course of artwork historical past of their time.

Possessing the steadiness and concord that drove Mondrian to create essentially the most daring compositions of the 20th century, Composition No. II from 1930 represents the top of Mondrian’s mature type, which the artist refined throughout his time in Paris and immersion within the inventive firmament that took maintain there throughout the Twenties and early Thirties. Works from this era are solely distinct from Mondrian’s earlier motion towards abstraction earlier than and through World Warfare I, in addition to from his later interval Boogie Woogie works he produced after emigrating to America in 1940.

In Composition No. II, the artist’s signature grid abstraction and geometric composition is on full show; this work is additional distinguished by the big crimson sq. type occupying the higher proper quadrant. Works by Mondrian which have a predominance of the colour crimson are exceptionally uncommon inside his oeuvre, with solely 17 work of the almost 120 works executed by the artist from 1921 to 1933 having a give attention to the colour crimson, and of this group, solely three work stay in non-public arms. Composition No. II comes from a discrete collection of square-format canvases, nearly all of that are held in museum collections. Additionally it is one among solely three of work to characteristic the dominant crimson sq. at higher proper; the opposite two works with this characteristic are each in museum collections (the Nationwide Gallery of Belgrade and the Kunsthaus Zurich) and are smaller in measurement. Composition No. II has an distinctive exhibition and provenance historical past, and was first exhibited the 12 months it was painted within the inaugural Cercle et Carrée exhibition in Paris.

Reflecting on his inventive evolution, his goals as an artist, and the way a main coloration akin to crimson would come to characteristic so prominently in his work, Mondrian recounted how his “work unconsciously started to deviate an increasing number of from the pure features of actuality…The very first thing to vary in my portray was the colour. I forsook pure coloration for pure coloration.”

Coming to public sale for the primary time in almost 40 years on 14 November at Sotheby’s Fashionable Night Public sale, Composition No. II is anticipated to promote for in extra of $50 million, making this work some of the vital and worthwhile works by the artist ever provided in the marketplace. When the portray was bought at public sale in 1983, it achieved the best value ever paid on the time for a piece by Mondrian and for a piece of summary artwork at public sale, as reported in The New York Occasions1.

“Quintessential works by Piet Mondrian hardly ever come to public sale as many are housed in essentially the most prestigious museum collections around the globe. Composition No. II embodies every thing you would need from a Mondrian – it’s a seminal portray that’s each essential to the event of Fashionable artwork and emblematic of the enduring attraction of the Fashionable aesthetic, characterised by a serene sense of compositional steadiness and spatial order, and with excellent provenance. On his path in the direction of abstraction, Mondrian reached an epiphany with the works he created on the peak of his profession. The chance to accumulate a portray of this high quality is really a once-in-a- era prevalence.”


Within the widespread creativeness, Mondrian’s distinctive type is probably essentially the most generally acknowledged type of summary artwork, which has influenced artwork actions from Coloration Discipline to Minimalism, in addition to artists spanning generations and world cultures, together with Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, Liu Ye, Richard Pettibone, and lots of extra. Mondrian has not solely had an affect throughout the arts, but additionally a wide-ranging affect on widespread tradition. The artist’s geometric motifs and palette of main colours has additionally left an plain imprint on widespread tradition, starting from the designer Yves Saint Laurent’s well-known Mondrian-inspired cocktail clothes of the mid-Sixties, the structure of the Eames Home in California, the outside of the Hague’s Metropolis Corridor, Italian designer Danilo Silvestrin’s furnishings, a specifically designed pair of Nike SB Dunks, The White Stripes album De Stijl and album cowl designs by different artists, to call only a few cases of the artist’s affect.

By the point Composition No. II was painted, Mondrian was already well-known in worldwide artwork circles. Peggy Guggenheim and Alfred Barr each courted him for work; Hilla Rebay and Marcel Duchamp stopped by his studio and dozens of younger artists visited him in his immaculately designed setting. On the middle of the artwork world in Paris throughout this time, Mondrian felt at house throughout the bustling metropolis and the entry to new types of tradition, akin to jazz, fashionable dance, and the joy of fast-moving visible tradition that was usually related to nightlife all through the town. Mondrian was identified to remain out all evening at Café du Dome and attend the Cirque Médrano in Montmarte. The pleasures of Parisian nightlife weren’t just for passing the time. As with each facet of his studied each day routine, these nocturnal outings infused and impressed his work. Nevertheless, with the deteriorating political scenario in Europe, by 1937 Mondrian’s work was being exhibited as Degenerate Artwork in Germany. Inside a 12 months he would depart France, first for England after which, in 1940, for New York, the place he would, for the primary time in a long time, lastly abandon the black line in his work as he launched into a brand new collection throughout the evolution of his work that was additionally indebted to the brand new tradition he skilled round him.

Regardless of being on the vanguard of modernism, and successfully altering its course, Mondrian’s Dutch background and Puritan upbringing had been formative influences on his concepts and work, as he sought to infuse a religiously impressed Dutch aesthetic with a radical, modernist fervor. His return from the Netherlands to his studio in Paris in 1919 marked the start of a interval of intense exercise dedicated to creating the type that will dominate his work of the Twenties, throughout which period he confined his pictorial language to planes of pure main coloration, planes of non-color and black traces. Over the following decade Mondrian refined this new vocabulary to the best diploma of steadiness and economic system, creating a number of collection of comparable works, with every new canvas that includes minor variations within the exact shades of the first colours, the thickness of the black traces, and the dimensions and form of the geometrical grids that delineate his compositions. Every work is a singular try to specific a precept of equilibrium borne out of opposing parts, additional amplified by Mondrian’s choice to current his completed canvases in recessed frames.

Mondrian’s studio setting in Paris was a car for creating his work and encountering this rigorously constructed world was akin to encountering one among his work. He had moved to the French capital in 1911, settling into what, with the interruption of World Warfare I, could be his house till 1938. Alexander Calder visited the studio in 1930, the 12 months Composition No. II was produced, and recalled: “I used to be very a lot moved by Mondrian’s studio, giant, lovely and irregular in form because it was, with the partitions painted white and divided by black traces and rectangles of vivid coloration, like his work.” It was by means of the cautious steadiness of coloration – or lack of coloration – and type expressed by means of vertical and horizontal traces that Mondrian created his final imaginative and prescient.

Composition No. II carries an illustrious provenance and in depth exhibition historical past, together with a Paris-based present the 12 months it was painted. The work was loaned by Mondrian to the Swedish artist Otto Carlsund within the early Thirties and loved a stint within the assortment of Dutch artist César Domela within the late Nineteen Forties. The work was later held within the Bartos assortment, the place it remained till 1983 when it final made an look at public sale, alongside different vital works from their assortment by Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger and Mark Rothko.