In 1915, Robert Delaunay and his wife Sonia Delaunay moved to Portugal. Robert had a medical condition which prevented him from active duty; this also suited his (and his wife’s) commitment to pacifism. Removed from the chaos of the First World War, the Delaunays were fascinated by the warm, clear light of Northern Portugal, which they captured in their respective paintings during this period. He was inspired by the simple life in his new surroundings, which he described as "violent contrasts of colored marks, women's clothing, striking shawls of delicious, metallic greens, watermelons. Forms and colors: women disappearing in mountains of pumpkins, vegetables, enchanting markets" (quoted by Pierre Francastel in Robert Delaunay, Du cubisme à l'art abstrait, Paris, 1957, p. 127).
The Portugaise works were of great importance in that they serve to underline Delaunay's development towards an art in which color and design are on equal footing in the conception of the work as a whole, anticipating his later and purely abstract Rythmes series. Nature morte portugaise is a vivacious and highly original combination of figurative and abstract elements. The motifs of the sliced melon and traditional tablecloth reoccur in various Portugaise still lifes Delaunay created during this period.
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