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Fernand Léger (1881 - 1955)

Lot 634: Fernand Léger (1881-1955)


February 10, 2005
London, United Kingdom

More About this Item


Femme debout vue de profil
signed with the artist's initials and dated 'FL 20' (lower right)
gouache, watercolour, wash and pencil on paper
13 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. (35 x 24.1 cm.)
Executed in 1920

Artist or Maker

Fernand Léger (1881-1955)


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 6089).
Galerie Berggruen and Cie, Paris.
Galerie Durand, Paris.
Maurice Jardot, Paris, by June 1977.
Acquired by the present owner in the late 1970s.



This striking work dating from 1920 is among the earliest examples of Fernard Léger's classical articulation of women in an interior space, a theme that found expression in related works such as the more monumental Les Odalisques, 1920 (fig. 1) and Le Déjeuner, 1921 (fig. 2). The year of the present work notably coincided with Léger's first meeting with architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier), whose Purist principles advocated 'a call to order' within the context of a modern aesthetic. Léger was attentive to such prevailing artistic impulses, which embraced the ordered stylistic and formal tendencies of the classical tradition in the creation of a modern visual syntax. Thematically, the female nude lent itself to the exploration of the new classicism. In Personnage dans un intérieur Léger created a carefully measured balance by contrasting the rounded forms of a seductive female figure with the geometrical framework of horizontal and vertical lines that contain it. 'As long as the human body is considered a sentimental or expressive value in painting, no new evolution in pictures of people will be possible. Its development has been hindered by the domination of the subject over the ages' (quoted in Fernand Léger, New York, 1987, p. 15). While yielding to overall concerns for balance and order, Leger nonetheless refused to sacrifice his intuitive excitement for the machine age. He injected into the composition of Personnage dans un intérieur a powerful sense of dynamism through the use of pronounced vertical forms, and the warm and cool contrast of vivid red and blue tonalities.
The exceptional history of the present work includes ownership by Galerie Louise Leiris, which was established by legendary dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler in 1920 as Galerie Simon, named after his partner André Simon. The gallery underwent a name change in 1940 when Kahnweiler's daughter-in-law, Louise Leiris, took over the running of the business. Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler championed the work of modernist artists from a very early stage and promoted Léger's work as his dealer in a close relationship of mutual trust and support.

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Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper

February 10, 2005, 12:00 AM EST

London, United Kingdom