Lot 133
  • 133

Lyonel Feininger

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Lyonel Feininger
  • Sails
  • Signed Feininger (upper right); signed Lyonel Feininger, dated 14 Feb. 1954 and titled (on the stretcher)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 17 by 30 in.
  • 43.2 by 76.1 cm


Galerie Melki, Paris
Robert Elkon Gallery, New York
Mrs. Albert List, Byram, Connecticut
Curt Valentin Gallery, New York
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above in 1971)
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1974)


New York, Curt Valentin Gallery, Lyonel Feininger Recent Paintings and Watercolors (1951-1954), 1954, no. 20, illustrated in the catalogue


Hans Hess, Lyonel Feininger, New York, 1959, no. 536, illustrated p. 300

Catalogue Note

In the summer of 1936, an invitation from Mills College in Oakland provided Feininger with the welcome opportunity to escape Nazi Germany. From a letter he wrote in May 1937, it is clear that the possibility of living in America appealed to him on both an artistic and personal level: "I feel twenty-five years younger knowing that I am going to a country where imagination in art and abstraction are not an utter crime, as they are here..." (quoted in Ulrich Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger, Munich, 1989, p. 44). The architecture of New York did indeed provide a source of inspiration to the artist, and by 1940 the towering buildings, fragmented and interpenetrated, had found their way into his art.

By the 1950s Feininger was almost exclusively interested in the interaction of line, form and color, and his art is as much about rendering a vision of the geometry inherent in nature as any one subject, though distinctive images of sailboats figure prominently in his work from this period. As Feininger wrote to his son Lux in September 1955: "I incline ever more to reduce my language in painting to the merest essences of line and colour; as a painter I am hopelessly bound even though I have an appreciation for the properties of pigments in using them in my own sparse way. I am nearing a stage where I am even commencing to annihilate precise form, in the interest—as it seems to me—of unity" (ibid., p. 168).