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Lot 30: Duncan Grant (1885-1978)

20th Century British Art including Property from the Collection of the late Sir Colin and Lady Anderson

by Christie's

November 18, 2005

London, United Kingdom

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Description: The Coffee Pot
signed and dated 'D Grant 1919' (lower left)
oil on panel
21 x 13 1/4 in. (53.3 x 33.5 cm.)
Sold with the original receipt from the Lefevre Gallery.

Notes: In the decade 1910-20 Duncan Grant frequently made two or more versions of the same subject in order to explore different aspects of his theme. In his first one-man exhibition, at the Carfax Gallery, London, in early 1920, he showed The Coffee Pot No 1 (no. 9) and The Coffee Pot No 2 (no. 25). The present painting is one of these, almost certainly the second one. Its closely related companion is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and is usually dated circa 1918. That the present work follows the Metropolitan's picture is confirmed not only by the contemporary dating of the work to 1919, but also by the tighter, more controlled handling of the paint and the abstracted elements of the objects that make up the composition - a coffee pot, saucepan for milk and a glass rummer seen against a piece of green card placed on a stone slab in front of the decorated fireplace in the dining-room at Charleston. The Metropolitan version bears the hallmarks of having been painted in front of the motif.

A charcoal drawing in the collection of the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery, Bedford (R. Shone, exhibition catalogue, The Art of Bloomsbury, Tate Gallery, London, 1999, no. 180, illustrated) appears to be a direct study for the present work, sharing its vertical format and close alignment of the objects, rather than for the Metropolitan's painting.

At about this time Grant wrote to Roger Fry of his wish to make 'unrealistic realistic' paintings, suggesting his desire for a unified painterly surface while retaining the solid presence of the objects depicted. The complex geometrical organisation of the present work, designed around the dramatic black handle of the coffee pot, serve as a reminder that the influence on Grant in circa 1913-14 of Picasso's and Braque's Cubist still lifes had not been eradicated in the intervening years of fluent high-keyed painting in which Matisse is the more obvious influence.

We are very grateful to Richard Shone for providing the catalogue entry for lots 30-31, 54-57 and 76.

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price plus buyer's premium.

Provenance: Purchased by Sir Colin Anderson at the Lefevre Gallery, London, 1944.

Artist or Maker: Duncan Grant (1885-1978)

Exhibited: London, Carfax Gallery, Duncan Grant, 1920, no. 25.
Bath, Corsham Court, Winter 1946.
London, I.C.A. Ten Decades, a review of British Taste 1851-1951, 1951, no. 172.
London, Tate Gallery, Seventeen Collectors An exhibition of paintings and sculpture from the private collections of members of the Executive Committee of the Contemporary Art Society, March - April 1952, no. 200.
Bradford, Cartwright Memorial Hall, Golden Jubilee Exhibition: Fifty Years of British Art 1904-1954, March - June 1954, no. 328.
London, Hampstead Artists' Council, Town Hall, Haverstock Hill, Camden Town Group, May - June 1965, no. 47.

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