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Jean Metzinger (1883 - 1956)

Lot 310: Jean Metzinger , 1883-1956 Nature Morte au potiron et bouteille de Rhum Oil on canvas


November 8, 2007
New York, NY, US

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Signed and dated Metzinger 1917 (lower right) Oil on canvas


measurements 24 by 32 in. alternate measurements 61 by 81.3 cm


Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie L'Effort Moderne), Paris
John Joseph Wardell Power, Jersey (Channel Islands)
Maxwell Galleries, San Francisco
Acquired from the above circa 1950s


Metzinger played a key role in the establishment of a distinct Cubist movement. He exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants of 1911, and in the following months published a series of interviews and magazine articles defining the Cubist style. Famously, Metzinger was "the first to write of the fact that Picasso and Braque had dismissed traditional perspective and felt free to move around their subjects, studying them from various points" (John Golding, Cubism: A History and an Analysis, London, 1959, p. 27).

In Du Cubisme, an essay published with Albert Gleizes in 1912, Metzinger proclaimed: "To establish pictorial space, we must have recourse to tactile and motor sensations, indeed to all our faculties. It is our whole personality which, contracting or expanding, transforms the plane of the picture. As it reacts, this plane reflects the personality back upon the understanding of the spectator, and thus pictorial space is defined: a sensitive passage between two subjective spaces. The forms which are situated within this space spring from a dynamism which we profess to dominate. In order that our intelligence may possess it, let us first exercise our sensitivity. There are only nuances. Form appears endowed with properties identical to those of color. It is tempered or augmented by contact with another form, it is destroyed or it flowers, it is multiplied or it disappears'"(quoted in Robert L. Herbert (ed.), Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 8).

The present work is a stunning embodiment of the principles set forth in "Du Cubisme." Among Metzinger's finest works, it was painted in 1917, a moment when he "became much more interested in bold patterning and decorative detail, and was more likely to integrate typography into the composition [...] Small circular forms, representing pipe bowls, bottle openings, cup rims, clocks, fruit, or simple dot patterns, unite various areas of the composition, at times suggesting witty visual puns, such as eyes or olives" (Jean Metzinger in Retrospect, (Joann Moser, Jean Metzinger in Retrospect (exhibition catalogue), Iowa City, 1985, p. 45). Fig.1, Pablo Picasso, "Papier Collé" with André Level's Card, Paris, 1914 Fig. 2, Pablo Picasso, Playing cards, Wineglasses, and Bottle of Rum, 1914-15

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