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Pablo Picasso, Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, 20 November 1955. Estimate: £15-20 million. © Christie’s Images Limited 2014.

LONDON.- Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale in London on 4 February 2014 sets the bar for rare and important works from distinguished sources to be offered at auction this season. Presenting discerning, informed and passionate international collectors with 48 lots spanning almost a century, the sale is led by Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, 1955 by Pablo Picasso, which comes to the market for the first time in over 55 years (estimate: £15-20 million). The sale features works from exceptional collections including: Modern Masters: Works from an Important Private Swiss Collection, an historic group led by a magnificent still life by Juan Gris, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 1915 (estimate: £12-18 million) and Piet Mondrian’s iconic Composition No. 2 with Blue and Yellow, 1930 (estimate: £8-12 million); Trois homes qui marchent I, one of Alberto Giacometti’s famous multi-figure compositions, dating to the height of his oeuvre, from The Property of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund (estimate: £6.2-8 million); Les cylindres colorés, 1918, by Fernand Léger, formerly in the collection of Louis Carré, the celebrated art dealer who was closely associated with the artist (estimate: £5-7 million); and Property from the Estate of Ayala Zacks Abramov, featuring Henry Moore’s Mother and Child with Apple (estimate: £2.5-3.5 million). The enduring appeal of the Impressionist era is exemplified by L’Eglise de Varengeville; soleil couchant, 1882, by Claude Monet (estimate: £4-7 million). Estimates range from £150,000 to £20 million, with a pre-sale estimate of £94,150,000 to£134,900,000. Christie’s evening auctions of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art on 4 February have a total pre-sale estimate of £137.1 million to £199.5 million. 

Jay Vincze, International Director and Head of The Impressionist and Modern Art Department, Christie’s London: “This stellar sale presents international collectors and institutions with rare opportunities to acquire exceptional works with illustrious provenance by key impressionist and modern masters. The global market for this category continues to expand and deepen year on year, underpinned by passion for the beauty of the period and an increasingly far reaching appreciation and understanding of the importance of late 19th century and early 20th century art movements. We are very privileged to be offering the distinguished private Swiss collection which includes a magnificent still life by Juan Gris as well as some of the most important examples of De Stijl works ever to be seen on the market, many of which were acquired directly from the artists, with whom the collectors had significant relationships. We are also very honoured to be offering Picasso’s powerful portrait of his great love Jacqueline Roque, which comes to auction for the first time in over 55 years. Such a major work from this important series has not been seen at auction since ‘Femme accroupie au costume turc, Jacqueline’ was sold at Christie’s New York for $30.8 million in November 2007.” 

Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, 20 November 1955, is one of a small group of portraits by Pablo Picasso showing Jacqueline Roque in the costume of an ‘odalisque’, a woman of the harem (estimate: £15-20 million). Having met Jacqueline three years earlier, this painting dates from relatively early in their relationship and is a colourful, sexually charged celebration of Jacqueline, whom Picasso would marry six years later and who would become one of the most important muses of the artist’s life. The theme of the odalisque derived from Picasso’s variations upon Eugène Delacroix’s celebrated masterpiece, Les femmes d’Alger dans leur appartement, now in the Louvre, Paris. Picasso had created his own versions of Les femmes d’Alger from December 1954 until early 1955 in his studio in the rue des Grands Augustins in Paris; returning to the theme with relish later that year. The present painting is one of a series of pictures in which he painted a single woman dressed as an odalisque, taking his cues from Delacroix, from Ingres, from himself and crucially from Henri Matisse who had died the previous year; the connection between this theme and the heady, orientalised world of languorous sexuality of Matisse’s fictive harem scenes is immediately recognisable. 

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Pablo Picasso, Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, 20 November 1955. Estimate: £15-20 million. © Christie’s Images Limited 2014.

signed 'Picasso' (upper right); dated and numbered '20.11.55. II' (on the reverse); oil on canvas; 36¼ x 28¾ in. (92 x 73 cm.).Painted in 1955

Provenance: Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 7161), by whom acquired directly from the artist.
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (no. 1791), by whom acquired from the above.
Private collection, Munich, by whom acquired from the above in 1958, and thence by descent.
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT PRIVATE COLLECTION

Literature: C. Zervos, 'Transmutations et unité fondamentale dans les oeuvres récentes de Picasso', in Cahiers d'Art, Paris, 1957 (illustrated p. 27).
C. Zervos, Pablo Picasso, Oeuvres de 1953 à 1955, vol. 16, Paris, 1965, no. 533 (illustrated pl. 182).
The Picasso Project, ed., Picasso's Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Sculpture, The Fifties I, 1950-1955, San Francisco, 2000, no. 55-234, p. 345 (illustrated).
E. Mallen, ed., Online Picasso Project, Sam Houston State University, OPP.55:255 (accessed 2013).

Exhibited: Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Maîtres d'Art Moderne, September - October 1958.
Munich, Pinakothek der Moderne, on loan 1975-2009.
Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Picasso, las grandes series, March - June 2001, no. 9, p. 362 (illustrated p. 223).

Notes: Pablo Picasso painted Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil on 20 November 1955. This picture is one of a small group of portraits showing Jacqueline Roque in the costume of an 'odalisque', a woman of the harem. The identification of the model is clear from comparison with other works from the selected series, and also with portraits that Picasso had created of her during the course of 1954 and 1955; indeed, a little over a year before he painted Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, he had drawn an intimate image of Jacqueline's face showing the nose, as here, facing to the right while the rest appeared predominantly orientated towards the left. That had been one of Picasso's early depictions of Jacqueline: while they had met in 1952, when she was assisting Suzanne Ramié in the workshop in Vallauris where Picasso made his ceramics, it was only later in 1953 that she had become established as the artist's partner, especially following the final rupture with Françoise Gilot in September that year. Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil therefore dates from relatively early in this relationship and is a colourful, tender celebration of Jacqueline, whom Picasso would marry six years later and who would become one of the most important muses of the artist's entire life.

In Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, Picasso has shown Jacqueline in the exotic garb of a woman of the seraglio. The theme of the odalisque derived from Picasso's variations upon Eugène Delacroix's celebrated masterpiece, Les femmes d'Alger dans leur appartement, now in the Louvre, Paris. Picasso had created his own versions of Les femmes d'Alger from December 1954 until early 1955 in his studio in the rue des Grands Augustins in Paris. In Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil, painted at the end of 1955, Picasso has returned to the theme of the odalisque with relish: this is one of a series of pictures in which he painted a single woman dressed as an odalisque, taking his cues from Delacroix, from Ingres, from himself, and crucially from Henri Matisse. In this string of portraits, Picasso created a new sequence of variations, showing Jacqueline sometimes more figuratively, sometimes less. She appears in profile in some pictures, facing the viewer in others, here sitting upon a chair, there upon the floor. Picasso appears to have been playfully exploring the pictorial potential of Jacqueline's striking features, for instance by inverting the nose in Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil or, in another work painted six days later and sold at Christie's New York in November 2007, by creating a heavier, more stylised impression of the head. 

Picasso had long been intrigued by Delacroix's works. Gilot would recall a visit to the Louvre with Georges Salle, when Picasso had been given the chance to compare his own works to the Old Masters there. Picasso 'then asked to see some of his paintings beside Delacroix's Death of Sardanapalus, The Massacre of Chios andThe Women of Algiers,' Gilot wrote. 'He had often spoken to me of making his own version of The Women of Algiers and had taken me to the Louvre on an average of once a month to study it... I asked him how he felt about the Delacroix. His eyes narrowed and he said, "That bastard. He's really good"' (F. Gilot & C. Lake, Life with Picasso, New York, Toronto & London, 1964, p. 203). This shows the extent to which the idea of tackling Delacroix had gestated within Picasso over the decades. However, it was perhaps a number of external influences and events that finally prompted him to confront it in his own series of works, and later in the portraits of Jacqueline such as Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil. One of these was Jacqueline (whose resemblance to the woman squatting to the right of the composition in Delacroix's original had been noted by several people) and another was the death of Matisse.

It was at the end of 1954 that Matisse had died. He and Picasso, the two towering giants of twentieth-century art, had increasingly found solace in each other's company during their later years, having earlier enjoyed a more thorny friendship heavily spiced with rivalry. Picasso was more and more willing to admit to Matisse's brilliance, even going so far as to declare that, 'All things considered, there is only Matisse’ (Picasso, quoted in J. Golding, 'Introduction’, pp. 13-24, Cowling et al., ed., Matisse Picasso, exh. cat., London, 2002, p. 24). When Matisse died, Picasso initially appeared to be in denial, refusing to answer the phone to hear the news, let alone to attend the funeral. Now, deprived of any contemporaries with whom to discuss the nature and ramifications of art, Picasso sought out the company of the long-departed masters, be it Delacroix, Edouard Manet or Diego Velazquez. Picasso, made aware of the issue of his own legacy and standing in the history of art, especially during a period of international retrospectives that were causing a constant re-evaluation of his impact upon the development of painting, turned to the pantheon of painters of the past for inspiration, company and conversation. At the same time, he was placing himself all the more firmly within that firmament. 

Modern Masters: Works from an Important Private Swiss Collection

Modern Masters: Works from an Important Private Swiss Collection comprises an exceptional and historic group of works which will be offered across all four King Street sales on 4 and 5 February. Collections often reflect their collectors’ tastes and histories, but seldom do they also reflect their friendships and relationships as much as the 22 works of art assembled by a private Swiss couple. Behind almost all of these works are tales of friendship, as the collectors came to know many of the artists who are represented, meeting a number of the leading figures of the avant garde from the 1920s onwards. Living a reality confined merely to dreams for many, they were able to meet Constantin Brancusi, to see Pablo Picasso’s Guernica while it was in its studio, to support the impoverished and embattled Piet Mondrian and to entertain Hans Arp on a regular basis. Two published authors, who were authorities in their field, the couple were prominent in the cultural milieu of Switzerland and Europe as a whole, particularly in the middle decades of the 20th century. The collection is led by a magnificent still life by Juan Gris, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 1915 (estimate: £12-18 million) and Piet Mondrian’s Composition No. 2 with Blue and Yellow, 1930, which is an historic example of the radical Neo-Plastic aesthetic that Mondrian had developed during the previous decade and which reached a pinnacle at this time (estimate: £8-12 million). Coming to the market for the first time, the collection as a whole is expected to realise in excess of £30 million.

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Juan Gris (1887-1927), Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 1915. Estimate: £12-18 million. © Christie’s Images Limited 2014.

signed and dated ‘Juan Gris 3-15’ (on the reverse); oil on canvas; 45.7/8 x 35.1/8 in. (116.5 x 89.3 cm.). Painted in March 1915

Provenance: Galerie de L'Effort Moderne [Léonce Rosenberg], Paris (no. 5114).
Dr Gottlieb Friedrich Reber, Lausanne, by whom acquired in November 1925.
Gisela M. Reber, Lugano, 1926.
Galerie Gasser, Zurich, circa 1944.
Professor Dr Wilhelm Löffler, Zurich, by 1955.
Private collection, Zurich, a bequest from the above in 1972, and thence by descent to the present owners.
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION

Collections often reflect their collectors' tastes and histories, but seldom do they also reflect their friendships and relationships as much as this exceptional, historic group of works of art assembled by a private Swiss couple. Behind almost all of these works are tales of friendship, as the collectors came to know many of the artists who are represented here.

The couple in question were not artists in their own rights, yet were prominent in the cultural milieu of Switzerland - and indeed Europe - especially in the middle decades of the Twentieth Century. Two published authors - indeed, authorities - they met a number of the most prominent figures of the avant garde from the 1920s onwards. They were able to meet Constantin Brancusi, to see Pablo Picasso's Guernica while it was in its studio, to help to support the impoverished and embattled Piet Mondrian and to entertain Hans Arp on a regular basis. Each of the works therefore serves as a relic of deeply personal bonds between the collectors and the artists whom they admired.

Of course, not all the works in the collection were from artists whom they knew. One of the rare exceptions to this rule, the magnificent still life by Juan Gris, Nature morte à la nappe aux carreaux was in fact beyond their financial means when it was available for sale in Switzerland; instead of buying it, they were able to advise an acquaintance, the eminent Professor Doctor Wilhelm Löffler, who had known little about art and still less about such an avant garde monument of Cubism, with such enthusiasm that he bought it for himself… yet, when he died, he bequeathed it to them, stating that he had only ever considered it a permanent loan. This is a reflection of the incredible generosity of spirit of the couple in question, which was clearly appreciated by many with whom they came into contact.

Looking at the collection, it is interesting to note the architectural dimension that is often present. The couple who assembled these works were often in contact with people from that milieu, and so it seems only natural that they should have acquired works that are either architectural in character, such as the Mondrian and the Vantongerloo, or which were the creations of artists involved with architecture and design, such as Le Corbusier and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Indeed, those artists spent time with the couple on the SS Patris II, which had become an extra location for the fourth Congrès Internationale d'Architecture Moderne. The ship, wending its way from Marseilles to Athens, where the congress itself was to take place, became a de facto conference in its own right, stopping along the way to view various sites. This gave the collectors and the artists and architects alike, such as Moholy-Nagy, Le Corbusier, Fernand Léger, Ernö Goldfinger and others, a chance to begin or to deepen their acquaintances. It is this type of glancing insight into the cultural world of Europe during those turbulent decades at the middle of the Twentieth Century that this collection provides. It has faultless historical credentials, it provides insights into the personalities of the artists and the collectors, and it also reflects their daring, now justified support of modern art itself, ranging across Cubism, Dada, Purism and Surrealism.

Literature: Cahiers d’Art, Paris, 1927, no. 4-5 (illustrated p. 172).
C. Einstein, Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1931 (illustrated p. 375).
Cahiers d’Art, Paris, 1933, no. 5-6 (illustrated).
D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work, London, 1947 (illustrated pl. 21).
J.T. Soby, Juan Gris, New York, 1958, pp. 50 & 61 (illustrated p. 60).
D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work, New York, 1968 (illustrated p. 107).
D. Cooper, Juan Gris, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. I, Paris, 1977, no. 127, p. 194 (illustrated p. 195).

Exhibited: Dresden, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Internationale Kunst Ausstellung, June – September 1926, no. 374.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Juan Gris, April 1933, no. 50 (illustrated).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Europäische Kunst 13-20 Jahrhundert aus Zu¨rcher Sammlungen, June – August 1950.
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Juan Gris, October 1955 – January 1956, no. 23.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, on loan April - December 1982.
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, Juan Gris, December 1992 – February 1993, no. 46 (illustrated p. 203).

Notes: Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux (The checked tablecloth) is a large-scale landmark painting by Juan Gris dating from 1915, a watershed year in which he shifted further from his earlier Analytical Cubism to the more lyrical Synthetic Cubism. The importance of this picture is reflected in the fact that it has featured in a number of significant collections since its execution, including that of one of the greatest patrons of Cubism, Dr G.F. Reber of Lausanne. Gris' move away from Analytical Cubism is demonstrated in the sheer exuberant energy of Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, which features an explosion of objects, seemingly radiating from a point in the lower centre of the composition. There is a sense of dynamism to this composition, accentuated by its sheer size, which is at odds with the more static still life works that he often created; this was a characteristic that marked out his pictures of 1915 in particular. Indeed, it was making specific reference to Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux and another work from the same year that Gris' friend, dealer and biographer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler later wrote: 'Apparently Gris' ideal of architectural grandeur can only be realised with a static subject. But during the summer of 1915 he produced a series of pictures which are full of movement' (D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris: His Life and Work, trans. D. Cooper, London, 1969, p. 126).

In fact, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux was painted not in the Summer of 1915, as Kahnweiler suggested, but instead in March, only a few months after Gris had returned to Paris following some months in the South of France after the outbreak of the First World War. This marked a new period in Gris' work, as he himself acknowledged in a letter to Kahnweiler written on 26 March 1915, during the same month that Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux was painted: 'I think I have really made progress recently and that my pictures begin to have a unity which they have lacked till now. They are no longer those inventories of objects which used to depress me so much' (Gris, quoted in C. Green, Juan Gris, London & New Haven, 1992, p. 51). This was a shift that has been noted by a number of critics as well. Of the transition of which Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux is such a prominent example, Kahnweiler explained, 'Gris finally gave up presenting the beholder with a great variety of information (acquired by empirical observation) about the objects which he displayed. He now offered a synthesis: that is to say, he packed his knowledge into one significant form, a single emblem. True conceptual painting was born' (Kahnweiler, op. cit., 1969, p. 126). Meanwhile, James Thrall Soby wrote in the catalogue for the exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York in 1958, in which Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux was reproduced although not included in the show itself:

'... for sheer variety his work of 1915 is outstanding. The strange, lovely fluorescence of The Checked Tablecloth is a long cry from the splintered complexity of the Still Life. And in connection with the compositional arrangement of the former picture, mention should be made of Gris' passion for triangles. Lipchitz has told the writer that Gris revered the triangle because it is "so accurate and endless a form." He added that once when he and Gris found a triangular-shaped drinking glass, the latter explained: "You see we are influencing life at last"' (J.T. Soby, Juan Gris, exh. cat., New York, 1958, pp. 50-57).

Those triangles help to banish any sense of the static from Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux: the various objects appear to emanate like a fan from the point down in the middle of the composition, at the bottom. At the same time, this anchoring point helps to give the impression of pictorial unity that increasingly characterised his pictures. The growing focus on coherence is clear in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux in its inclusion of various objects which are shown almost in relief against the uncluttered background, heightening the sense of cohesion. Douglas Cooper himself noted the less fragmentary nature of Gris' compositions from this time, and the greater certainty in his treatment of the spaces between the objects. Thus, Gris revealed his confidence in paint handling and composition even during a period of extensive pictorial experimentation.

Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux has a vibrancy which is accentuated by the checkering of the tablecloth, which extends into various other fields within the composition. This is a parallel version of the chessboard which featured in several of Gris' works from this period. This was a significant part of the transition from Analytical Cubism: where that earlier means of representation had involved constructing the image of the subject through a scaffolding-like armature, now the grid took on a new appearance, playfully embraced in the form of this tablecloth or, elsewhere, the chessboard; it even appears in the background of Guitare sur une table in the Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo in the flagstones of the floor. At the same time, it allowed Gris to introduce the formality of the gridded armature by other means.

Against this framing device, he has shown, using a deliberately extensive and versatile variety of means, a number of objects in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux. Some, like the grapes, the wood grain or the Bass label, are shown in an almost literal manner, while others are more stylised, for instance the glasses, depicted as fragmented and almost metallic objects, or the spectral cups, saucers and guitar, which are presented in part through deceptively simple white outlines. This range of approaches to verisimilitude is given more emphasis by the life-like scale of the composition. The variety of means of representation explored in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux cuts to the heart of the transition that was taking shape in Gris' work at this time: while some objects are painted in a manner that echoes his earlier use of collage, a technique which had drawn him away from Analytical Cubism and towards a more legible aesthetic, others hint at a new idealism.

Increasingly, Gris was seeking out an almost Neo-Platonic version of his objects, no longer trusting to observation alone, but instead to memory, experience and indeed concept - hence Kahnweiler's declaration that these works marked the beginning of his 'conceptual' phase. Where Cubism had formerly been seen by Gris, and also his fellow artists, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, as an almost objective means of recording the world, more and more he was seeking out a modern form of classicism that cut to the heart of existence. The outlines of the guitar and the cups in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux emphasise this notion: they are idealised yet also all the more evocative for the viewer. Nonetheless, they contain shard-like facets of 'materiality', be it in the wood of the guitar or the slivers of white and shadow of the porcelain cups and the bowl.

In Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, there is a grounded quality to the depiction of the fruit and the label of the bottle of stout. The latter in particular harks back to the recent works involving collage, such as Verres et journaux of the previous year, now in the Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts. Echoing the introduction of 'reality' of those works, the label in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux has been meticulously painted to the point that it approaches trompe-l'oeil. Meanwhile, the Beaujolais label in the background and the newspaper in the foreground - a staple of Gris' works - reveal a deliberately painterly quality, despite evoking those earlier collage-based works. This painterly dimension is only heightened by the increasing use of Pointillist dabs of colour, which convey a sense of shading in various areas of the picture and which would, over the following year, become increasingly dominant.

Looking at the fruit, beer, wine and guitar in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, the viewer could be mistaken for interpreting this rich and lyrical cornucopia as a reflection of a world of plenty, of sensation, of music. Instead, Gris was painting against the backdrop of the First World War and his many deprivations. As a Spanish national, Gris was not called up for service in his adopted home, France. However, he was also unable to return to Spain, as he had neither carried out national service nor paid the necessary tax in order to be exempt from it. Before the First World War had begun, he had travelled with Josette to the South of France, staying first in Collioure and then in Céret. There, he was surrounded by a number of artists and friends, several of whom helped to support him, as his dealer, Kahnweiler, was barely able to help him - as a German national, he was unable to return to France, having left shortly before the outbreak of hostilities. Various arrangements arose to assist Gris: Henri Matisse, with whom Gris had spent a great deal of time in the South, had returned to Paris and arranged for Gertrude Stein and a New York sculptor and dealer, Michael Brenner, to give Gris a stipend. However, he was loath to go against the spirit of the contract he had made with Kahnweiler. He thus found himself between a rock and a hard place until he was released from Kahnweiler and took up a contract with Léonce Rosenberg.

It was in the context of this extended period of personal upheaval that Gris created Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux and a number of other celebrated works, many of which are filled with a similar zest for life. These include Nature morte et paysage - Place Ravignan, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pipe et journal, "Fantomas", now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, and even the moderately more austere Le petit déjeuner in the Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris, which nonetheless glows with an intense palette. In Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, Gris has refracted and diffracted the various colours present, in part through his use of the grid, adding an extra dimension of movement to the entirety, lending it an electric sense of buzzing energy. There is a firework-like intensity to its surface that prefigures some of the more Pointillist works of the following year such as Journal et compotier in the Yale University Art Gallery. All this opulence strikes a perplexing note when seen against the biographical details of Gris' life at that time: despite his black mood, he was creating colourful, sensual pictures. Perhaps the fruit, beer and wine were objects to which he aspired, images of hope and plenty in a time of scarcity; they may also have reflected his own desire to escape from the conflict-torn world and into his pictures, as was reflected in his final letter to Kahnweiler from the war years:

'I must apologise to you for discussing things which, at the present grave moment, must appear to you purely silly. But I have worried so much that I am now going to shut myself off and think of nothing but my work. I don't want to hear anything more, especially as everything which is now happening seems to me both useless and devoid of good sense' (Gris, quoted in Kahnweiler, op. cit., p. 28).

However, in Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, Gris has not entirely succeeded in blocking out the War: in the depiction of Le journal, a publication which appeared in a number of Gris' pictures during and after his period using collage elements, Gris has deliberately shown the ominous subtitle: 'Communiqués officiels'. He has thus allowed a rare, tangential glimpse of the war to enter Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, doubtless reflecting his own concerns, not least for the friends and colleagues about whose wellbeing he was anxious, in particular Braque, who had suffered a serious head wound while serving on the Front.

Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux was first owned by Kahnweiler's successor as Gris' dealer, Léonce Rosenberg, who himself was not exempt from service and therefore had to juggle his career with his military activities (for some time, he was attached to the British forces as an interpreter for the Royal Flying Corp). It was then acquired by Dr Gottlieb Friedrich Reber, one of the most celebrated of Cubist patrons of the 1920s in particular. Reber had originally collected works by earlier artists including Paul Cézanne, but the discovery of Cubism was a revelation for him, and he assembled a formidable collection of works by the first tier of the movement, Picasso, Braque, Léger and of course Gris. He gradually filled his home, the Château de Béthusy in Lausanne, with their pictures. While his collection diminished following the Crash of 1929, which left his finances dented, and also the Second World War, he nonetheless retained an impressive number of museum-class pictures. Indeed, many of the works he held are now in public collections throughout the world, and the reputation of Cubism was assisted by loans he made to some of the most important surveys of the movement.

Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux was later owned by Professor Dr Wilhelm Löffler, a well-known expert in internal medicine who was also an important pioneer in a number of treatments. The Zurich-based Löffler was also distinguished by inclusion in Thomas Mann's correspondence: in a 1955 letter to Theodor Adorno, Mann wrote that he had been diagnosed by the doctor (T. Mann, The Letters of Thomas Mann 1889-1955, trans. & ed. R. & C. Winston, Berkeley & Los Angeles, 1975, p. 479). During the same year, he also treated King Tribhuvan of Nepal. As well as Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, Löffler's collection featured an early Futurist masterpiece by Giacomo Balla, a 1911 painting by Wassily Kandinsky entitled Saint George as well as a work on paper, and also a formidable group of pictures by Paul Klee including his Stricken City of 1936, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow. Estimate: £8-12 million

signed with the initials and dated ‘PM 30’ (lower centre); signed and inscribed ‘HAUT Composition No. II P.MONDRIAN’ (on the frame); oil on canvas; in the artist’s frame; 19.7/8 x 19¾ in. (50.5 x 50.2 cm.). Painted in 1930.

Provenance: Private collection, Zurich, by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1931, and thence by descent to the present owners.
PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE SWISS COLLECTION

Literature: M. Seuphor, Piet Mondrian, Life and Work, New York, 1956, no. 514.
C.L. Ragghianti, Mondrian e l’arte del XX Secolo, Milan, 1962, no. 338.
C. Giedion-Welcker, Schriften 1926-1971, Stationen zu einem Zeitbild, Mit Briefen von Arp, Chillida, Ernst, Giacometti, Joyce, Le Corbusier, Mondrian, Schwitters, Cologne, 1973, no. V (illustrated).
A. Roth, Begegnungen mit Pionieren: Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian, Adolf Loos, Josef Hoffmann, Auguste Perret, Henry van de Velde, Basel, 1973, no. 35, pp. 160-161 (illustrated p. 161).
M.G. Ottolenghi, L'opera completa di Mondrian, Milan, 1974, no. 394.
J.M. Joosten, Piet Mondrian, Catalogue Raisonné of the Work of 1911-1944, vol. II, New York, 1998, no B 225, p. 357 (illustrated).

Exhibited: Brussels, Palais des Beaux Arts, L’Art Vivant en Europe, April – May 1931, no. 383.
Basel, Kunsthalle, Konstruktivisten, January – February 1937, no. 49.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Ausländische Kunst, July – September 1943, no. 611.
Basel, Kunsthalle, Konkrete Kunst, March – April 1944, no. 173.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Mondrian, February – April 1955, no. 117.
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Mondrian, May – July 1955, no. 96 (illustrated p. 53).
Zurich, Kunsthaus, on loan April - December 1982.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Piet Mondrian 1972-1944, December 1994 - April 1995, no. 129; this exhibition later travelled to Washington, National Gallery of Art and New York, Museum of Modern Art.

Notes: Painted in 1930, Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow is an historic example of the radical Neo-Plastic aesthetic that Piet Mondrian had developed during the previous decade and which reached a pinnacle at this time. Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow forms part of a group of fewer than a dozen paintings from the late 1920s and early 1930s in which he used approximately the same armature of black lines with different colour effects, revealing his own satisfaction with this grid format. In part because of these works, this period of his career has been described as, ‘the peak of Mondrian’s classicism’ (Y.A. Bois et al., ed., Piet Mondrian 1872–1944, exh. cat., New York, 1994, p. 237). Other examples of works from the group are now in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, the Kunstmuseum Winterthur and the Beyeler Foundation, Riehen. Of these, several feature repetitions or variations of the same format; however, Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow is the only one to balance the colour in the upper left area with another in the lower right: in many of the other pictures from this group, the right-hand colour element is shown in the upper of the two small planes.

For Mondrian, the Neo-Plasticism which he pioneered was a means of bringing equilibrium to art and to life. Over the previous decades, he had developed an increasingly spiritual understanding of the role of art and its ability to contain universal truths. Already a trained and experienced artist at the turn of the century, he had begun to imbue his images of the Dutch landscape with an increasing mystical glow in the early 1900s. This became all the more marked during his trips to Walcheren, an artists’ colony which he had first visited with Jan Toorop. There, he had become intrigued by the almost formal manner in which landscape could be divided into various elements, and pared down to the horizontal and the vertical. The focus on these lines saw Mondrian gradually dissolving the world, for instance in his seascapes, into a shimmering, grid-like latticework that was the precursor of his Neo-Plasticism.

Mondrian had moved to Paris only a couple of years before the First World War; he had intended to make the French capital his base, but had been visiting his native Netherlands at the outbreak of hostilities, and so did not go back until after the end of the war. It was in 1919 that he returned to France, re-immersing himself in the avant garde and fully advancing the ideas he had developed during the war years, in isolation from the pioneers of Cubism in France who had earlier influenced him. Now the grids of his ‘Cubist’ works were freed from form, paving the way for the Neo-Plastic ideas that underpin Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow.

Only a year after Mondrian had painted Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow, he wrote that, ‘the new art uses forms in the manner of art (not in the manner of nature): it employs them only for their purely plastic value. It has realised what the art of the past attempted to do. In the new art, forms become increasingly neutral in the measure that they approach the universal’ (P. Mondrian, The New Art – The New Life: The Collected Writings of Piet Mondrian, H. Holtzman & M.S. James, ed., London, 1986, p. 246). Mondrian felt that form, and the depiction of form, essentially obstructed the ability of line and colour to express equilibrium. This equilibrium was to be sought as a type of enlightenment, a state that rose above the ‘tragic’, which itself was a state of disequilibrium..

Similarly, by painting a composition that was devoid of representation, that had been stripped of any sense of fictive space, Mondrian was creating a work that avoided emotions and subjectivity. He did not want to root himself in figuration, but instead sought to create an artwork that was more universal, that was not tied to interpretations but that instead was grounded, as much as art can be, in universal truths. To this end, his palette had gradually been refined over the decade he had spent based in Paris, and many of the half-tones that had earlier featured in his work had been replaced by the primary colours, alongside black, white and occasionally grey. Similarly, all except right-angled lines had been expunged from his vision: the only diagonals appeared occasionally in works painted on escutcheon-like diamond canvases, yet even in them, the lines were either rigidly horizontal or vertical.

In Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow, that rightangled structure can clearly be seen in the lines, most of which are of approximately the same width, which act like the leading in a stained glass window, emphasising the purity of colour within each grid, be it yellow, blue or white. Nonetheless, this format of painting, as exemplified here and in the other works using a similar template, manages to give a sense of the diagonal by other means, lending a feeling of upward motion that may relate to Mondrian’s desire for Man to rise to a higher form of existence, as reflected in some of his Theosophist beliefs and illustrated in earlier works such as Evolution.

In Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow, the lower-left and upper-right sections appear to be squares, the latter larger and therefore giving a sense of progression. This is echoed by the shapes on the other side. In the context of these pictures, this composition has sometimes been referred to as ‘scissored’ because of the way that the square surface area has been divided. It is through this scissoring that Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow achieves its delicate yet poetic balance, its sense of equilibrium, and therefore contains some of the idealism sought so avidly by Mondrian. In Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow, this is all the more the case, as the presence of the colour in the lower-right section, rather than the one above it (as is the case in its fellow works) heightens the directional sense of the picture, emphasising its diagonality and therefore its sense of rising thrust.

Mondrian’s dedication to his Neo-Plastic concepts was reflected in his life as well as his art. He was fascinated by jazz and dancing, enjoying the disruption of melody and seeing it as a near parallel to the abandonment of form in his pictures. Many of his works were named after dances and music, such as the foxtrot or boogie woogie. In his beliefs, he wrote extensively, trying to preach his new gospel, a notion that perhaps had its beginnings in his Calvinist upbringing. Certainly, the austere structure of pictures such as Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow can be seen to have Calvinist overtones as well as revealing an artist who was removing all that was superfluous in the quest for an underlying truth, a process that found its parallel in the search for common denominators that underpinned Theosophy, where various religions were viewed as incorporating beliefs that might point towards a single one.

For Mondrian, the structures that formed the foundation of his paintings also extended to his life. This was palpable not only in his love of jazz, but also in the rigour of the decoration of his studio in Paris. Hilla Rebay, who visited him there with Félix Fénéon and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy in June 1930, the year that Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow was painted, would write to Rudolf Bauer, saying of
Mondrian:
‘He hardly paints. He constructs 2 or 4 squares, but he is a wonderful man, very cultivated and impressive. He lives like a monk, everything is white and empty, but for red, blue, and yellow painted squares, that are spread all over the room of his white studio and bedroom. He also has a small record player with Negro music. He is very poor, and already 58 years old, resembles Kandinsky but is even better and more alone. Moholy loves him and venerates him in his quiet, intense way’ (Rebay, quoted in Y.A. Bois et al., ed., Op. Cit., p. 240).

Rebay bought one of Mondrian’s works, in part ‘to keep the wolf from the door of a great, lovable man’. Indeed, he was financially embattled enough that the following year, a group of his friends and admirers including Hans Arp, Walter Gropius and Moholy-Nagy all joined forces to raise funds for him through a lottery. Part of this was due to Mondrian’s painting process: during this period, he created only around ten paintings per year (only nine are listed from 1930 in the catalogue raisonné of his work). This reflects the rigour that he applied to his work while also explaining the relative rarity of his pictures.

This studio, with its moveable squares affixed to the walls, was photographed in 1929 with several of Mondrian’s works in the foreground, including one that resembled Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow (this is in fact believed to have been the similarly-named Composition No. 2 with Yellow and Blue of 1929, now in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen). Pictures of Mondrian’s studio were published several times during his life, including in Palet in 1931, which reproduced the photograph in question. It revealed the immersive manner in which Mondrian lived his life, surrounded by his beliefs.

This studio impressed many of its visitors, not least Alexander Calder, who met Mondrian in 1930 and visited his working set that year, around the time that Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow was painted. For him, the studio was a revelation and an epiphany: ‘My entrance into the field of abstract art came about as a result of a visit to the studio of Piet Mondrian in Paris in 1930. I was particularly impressed by some rectangles of colour he had tacked on his wall in a pattern after his nature. I told him I would like to make it oscillate – he objected’ (Calder, quoted in C. Giménez & A.S.C. Rower, ed., Calder: Gravity and Grace, London, 2004, p. 52). Calder would go on to create his ‘Mobiles’ following this encounter - putting fields of colour into motion. However, for Mondrian, his objection was that the colours were already fast enough. This is exemplified in Composition No. II with Blue and Yellow, where the two fields of colour, the blue and the yellow, which have an intense dynamism that is propelled by their containment within the black-bounded planes.

The Property of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund

Trois homes qui marchent I by Alberto Giacometti is an early lifetime cast of one of the artist’s famous multi-figure compositions, showing three men passing each other as though in a street (estimate:£6.2 - 8 million). This work was conceived around 1948 and cast by 1951. It dates from what is considered to be the height of Giacometti’s creative powers, a window of several years during which he honed the iconic vision of elongated, stick-thin figures for which he is now famed, producing a string of masterpieces tapping into this new artistic solution. It is a reflection of the importance of this work that casts of it are held by several museums, as are casts of many of the related works from the era. Offered by the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Sold to Benefit the Acquisitions Fund, having been gifted by Sidney Janis in 1967, this work provides the market with a remarkable opportunity. Of all Giacometti’s subjects, it is perhaps the striding man that is most recognised; its iconic status is emblematic of Giacometti himself, who often wandered around Paris’ streets, a 20th century flâneur. In the present work, the three figures are weaving their way past each other, connected yet isolated; it is the perfect embodiment of city life and the human condition during the post-war years of existentialism. 

1205L14002_78K78

Alberto Giacometti, Trois homes qui marchent I. Estimate:£6.2 - 8 million. This work was conceived around 1948 and cast by 1951. © Christie’s Images Limited 2014. 

signed 'A Giacometti’ (on the side of the platform); inscribed with the foundry mark ‘Alexis.Rudier Fondeur Paris’ (on the base); ronze with dark and light brown patina. Height: 28 ½ in. (72.4 cm.). Conceived in 1948-1949 and cast by 1951

Provenance: Galerie Maeght, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist in 1951.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York (no. 8672), by whom acquired from the above in April 1960.
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, a gift from the above in 1967.
THE PROPERTY OF THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK, SOLD TO BENEFIT THE ACQUISITIONS FUND

Literature: J. Dupin, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1962 p. 245 (another cast illustrated).
R.J. Moulin, Giacometti: Sculptures, New York, 1964, pl. 5 (another cast illustrated).
R. Hohl, Alberto Giacometti, New York, 1971, no. 126, pp. 126 & 307 (another cast illustrated).
W. Rubin, Three Generations of Twentieth-Century Art: The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1972, no. 30, pp. 110-111, 184 (illustrated pp. 111 & 226).
B. Lamarche-Vadel, Alberto Giacometti, Paris, 1984, no. 183, p. 129 (another cast illustrated).
Y. Bonnefoy, Alberto Giacometti: A Biography of his Work, Paris, 1991, no. 305, pp. 330-333 (another cast illustrated p. 333).
S. Pagé, Alberto Giacometti: Sculptures, Peintures, Dessins, Paris, 1991, p. 192 (another cast illustrated).
A. Schneider, ed., Alberto Giacometti: Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, New York, 1994, no. 53 (another cast illustrated).
D. Sylvester, Looking at Giacometti, London, 1994, no. 193, pp. 149, 150 & 252 (another cast illustrated p. 193).
A. González, Alberto Giacometti: Works, Writings, Interviews, Barcelona, 2006, p. 86 (another cast illustrated p. 87).
V. Wiesinger, ed., The Studio of Alberto Giacometti: Collection of the Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris, 2007, no. 484, p. 364, fig. 500 (illustrated in installation view of the Alberto Giacometti exhibition at Galerie Maeght, 1951; illustrated again p. 389 in the installation view of European Artists from A to V, Sidney Janis Gallery, 1961).
M. Brüderlin & T. Stooss, eds., Alberto Giacometti: The Origin of Space, Germany, 2010, p. 127 (another cast illustrated).

Exhibited: Kassel, Documenta II, July - October 1959, no. 1, p. 75 (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, XXth Century Artists, October - November 1960, no. 22 (illustrated).
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, European Artists from A to V, January - February 1961.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, 2 Generations: Picasso to Pollock, March - April 1964.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, January 1968 - August 1970; this exhibition later travelled to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Portland Museum of Art, the Pasadena Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Basel, Kunsthalle, London, Institute of Contemporary Arts and Berlin, Akademie der Kunste.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Painting and Sculpture Galleries, May 1974 - January 1975.
New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Exhibition of paintings, sculpture and drawings, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Alberto Giacometti, January 1976, no. 4.
Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, July - September 1981.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Painting and Sculpture Galleries, May 1984 - April 1986.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Sculptors’ Drawings, April - September 1986.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Painting and Sculpture Galleries, September 1986 - July 1992.

Notes: 'In the street people astound and interest me more than any sculpture or painting. Every second the people stream together and go apart, then they approach each other to get closer to one another. They unceasingly form and re-form living compositions in unbelievable complexity' (Giacometti, quoted in R. Hohl, 'Form and Vision: The Work of Alberto Giacometti', pp. 13-46, Alberto Giacometti: A Retrospective Exhibition, exh. cat., New York, 1974, p. 31).