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Fernand Léger (1881 - 1955)

Lot 545: Fernand Léger (1881-1955)


February 10, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Nature morte au citron
signed and dated 'F LEGER 38' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'Nature morte au citron F.Leger 38' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 21 1/2 in. (65 x 54.5 cm.)
Painted in 1938

Artist or Maker

Fernand Léger (1881-1955)


G. Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint 1938-1943, Paris, 1998, no. 1035 (illustrated p. 96).


Collection Daelemans, Brussels.
Maurice d'Arquian, Zurich & Brussels.
Acquired from the above by Dr Georg and Josi Guggenheim on 25 April 1960.


Although Léger was never affiliated with the Surrealists, he had contact and indeed friendships with many of the movement's members. It was through their indirect influence that Léger's art during the 1930s had begun to show an increasing disregard for 'reality'. The Rappel à l'ordre that had followed the chaos of the First World War had marked his work for a long time, and had brought him to see the machine as the salvation of the modern world, as the ultimate vision of the future. However, by 1938, when the present work Nature morte au citron was executed, this call to order had long since ceased to influence his painting.

Léger reacted to this change in different ways. On the one hand, creating works that showed everyday scenes in his trademark fashion and on the other beginning to explore with a new sense of freedom ideas of form, colour and, more importantly, of dynamism. While the first group of works were meant to be understood by everyone, not merely critics, connoisseurs and intellectuals, Nature morte au citron belongs to the second and expanding group of works that Léger was executing with the 'educated' viewer in mind. Nature morte au citron, with its exuberant explosion of planes, lines and forms, is a work packed with rhythm and energy, whose dynamism displays an ongoing process of experimentation and discovery by an artist who had always been preoccupied with movement.

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Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper

February 10, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom