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Lot 9: Oil painting, "Roses II", by Oskar Kokoschka, 1925

100 Rare and Fine Works of Art and Antiques

by Auctionata

December 7, 2012

Berlin, Germany

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Description: Oil on canvas
Austria, 1925
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980) - Austrian painter and illustrator
Monogrammed lower right, "OK"
Another flower still life has been painted on the reverse side of the canvas by somebody else
Custom-framed to show the front and the reverse of the canvas; both sides behind protective glass
Overall dimensions: 87 x 71 cm
Good condition
Provenance: From the estate of Wolfgang Ritter, entrepreneur from Bremen and one of Oskar Kokoschka's patrons

"Roses II" by Oskar Kokoschka was painted in 1925 in Scheveningen in the Netherlands. On a light grey grounded canvas, the artist shows a loose bouquet of roses in a slim glass vase in front of a light blue background indicated with a few sketchy brush strokes. The vase stands on an equally sketchily painted grey-beige area. The white, violet, red and yellow roses both stand and sway well composed over the edges of the vase. Some of the dense and polyfoil rose blooms have been executed in more impasto manner than others which places them closer to the beholder and thus add to the impression of depth in the painting. The colours of the blooms and the nearly turquoise-green stems and leaves harmonise with each other and the delicate blue background. The impression of momentariness that accompanies this painting, despite its well-balanced composition, is not accidental, since the painting has served as a sketch - according to the written statement of the artist: "Sketch for 'Wingler' 204 No." (see Lempertz Catalogue, 1966).In the Catalogue Raisonné by Hans Maria Wingler, published in 1956, the painting is named "Roses I". In the Lempertz auction catalogues from 1960 and 1966 it is named "Roses in a Vase", whereas in 1964, Sotheby's titled it "Roses I". In the posthumous Catalogue Raisonné (published in 1995) by Johann Winkler and Katharina Erling, the painting is titled "Roses II", which is why it is named so here. In this catalogue, the painting is mentioned only under reserve and its authenticity, despite several auctions during Kokoschka's lifetime and his own confirmation of having painted it, is called into question.In the 1960s the painting had an eventful time; after all, it was auctioned off three times within six years. For the first auction in 1960, Kokoschka confirmed the authenticity of the painting to the auction house Lempertz, and as for the subsequent auctions, he never contradicted this claim. In 1966, "Roses II" was bought by Wolfgang Ritter (1905-1993), a friend and patron to Kokoschka. When Ritter bought the painting, he and Kokoschka were verifiably in contact with each other - further, clear evidence towards the painting's authenticity. Since 1966, "Roses II" has been in the possession of Wolfgang Ritter's family. Now, for the first time since then, it is on the auction market.The painting is in good condition with some abrasions; the canvas is in the original, stretched out size bearing nail holes from an earlier mounting on a stretcher frame. It is framed in a double-sided frame that shows both sides of the canvas. One side of the frame is silver and the other is painted in gold. Both sides are behind acrylic glass. The overall dimensions measure 87 x 71 cm, the dimensions of the canvas (flat) measure 76 x 61 cm. The reverse side of the canvas has been painted with another flower still life by someone else. This side bears some larger paint flakes. The painting shows a slim vase with lush red poppies and generally employs a darker palette. The painting on the reverse side of the canvas is not mentioned in the Lempertz Catalogue (No. 463) from 1960 nor in the Sotheby's catalogue from 1964. It is mentioned for the first time in the Lempertz catalogue from 1966 (No. 488): "Auf der Rückseite der Leinwand ein Blumenstillleben von anderer Hand" ("On the reverse side of the canvas a flower still life by someone else"). This clearly indicates that the painting on the reverse must have been done sometime between 1964 and 1966.

Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Kokoschka was born in Pöchlarn but grew up in Vienna. Thanks to the intercession of Carl Otto Czeschka (1878-1960), Kokoschka was allowed to study at the arts school where he stayed from 1905 until 1909. He moved to Berlin in 1910 where he illustrated the expressionist magazine Der Sturm and had a huge exhibiton in Paul Cassirer's gallery. Back in Vienna, he met Alma Mahler, yet when their tumultuous affair ended, Kokoschka voluntarily joined the military service. He got injured and spent the rest of the war as a war painter. He was named a professor in Dresden in 1919 and stayed there until 1924. With the beginning of the Nazi regime, Kokoschka had to flee to Prague after he was named, „The most degenerated amongst the degenerated", and, "Hitler's artistic enemy No. 1". TheOskar Kokoschka Bund was founded in Prague with the aim of contradicting the 'artistic' machinations of the National Socialists and to support Kokoschka. In 1938, Kokoschka fled to England and became a British citizen in 1946 (he only re-accepted the Austrian citizenship in 1975). He founded the Schule des Sehens, an international fine arts summer academy in Salzburg and moved to Switzerland in 1953. Kokoschka participated in the documenta I, II and III and received many honours and awards. Regular exhibitions are held in his birthplace in Pöchlarn. Paintings by Kokoschka are today in the most important museums for modern art in Austria and Germany, but also in the National Gallery of Scotland and the National Gallery in Prague as well as in the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Literature:
Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Gemälde - Plastik - Aquarelle - Handzeichnungen - Graphik. LEMPERTZ AUKTION, Cat. No. 463, p. 41, with cover photo, 3rd December 1960.
Sotheby's London, Catalogue of Impressionist and Modern Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, 24th and 25th November 1964, p. 113, ill. 149.
Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts. Gemälde - Plastik - Aquarelle - Handzeichnungen - Graphik. LEMPERTZ AUKTION, Cat. No. 488, 14th and 15th June 1966, p. 64, ill. 343.
Wingler, Hans Maria, Oskar Kokoschka. Das Werk des Malers, Publisher Galerie Welz, Salzburg 1956, p. 314, Oeuvre-No. 190.
Winkler, Johann/Erling, Katharina, Oskar Kokoschka. Die Gemälde 1906-1929, Publisher Galerie Welz, Salzburg 1995, p. 121, No. 212.Important Disclaimer:
Auctionata expressly notes that this work has been listed in the 1995 Catalogue Raisonné by J.Winkler and K.Erling only under reserve. Therefore doubts exist regarding the authenticity of this work. In this respect a purchase of the work takes place at the buyer's own risk!

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