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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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Lyonel Feininger
1871 - 1956
BRÜCKE II (BRIDGE II)
signed Feininger (lower right); titled and dated Winter 1914-15 on the canvas overlap
oil on canvas
81.4 by 101cm.
32 by 39 3/4 in.
Painted in the winter 1914-15.
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Achim Moeller, Managing Principal of The Lyonel Feininger Project LLC, New York – Berlin, has confirmed the authenticity of this work, which is registered under no. 1246-12-23-13. The work is included in Lyonel Feininger The Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings by Achim Moeller under no. 140.

Additional information for this entry was provided by The Lyonel Feininger Project, New York – Berlin.

Provenance

Estate of the artist, New York

Julia Feininger, New York

Estate of Julia Feininger, New York

Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, New York / Marlborough Fine Art, London

Private Collection (acquired in 1971)

Private Collection, Switzerland

A Charitable Foundation, Switzerland (sold: Christie's, London, 4th February 2014, lot 36)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

Munich, Galerie Neue Kunst Hans Goltz, 48. Ausstellung: Lyonel Feininger, 1918, no. 12, illustrated in the catalogue

Hagen, Folkwang-Museum, Lyonel Feininger, 1919

Dresden, Galerie Emil Richter, Lyonel Feininger: Sonder-Ausstellung seiner Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen und Holzschnitte, 1919, no. 26

Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger: Gemälde, Graphik, XXIX. Sonder-Ausstellung, 1919-20, no. 147 (as dating from 1914)

Cologne, Galerie Goyert, Neue Kunst, 1920, no. 26

Weimar, Galerie Kunst der Lebenden, Schlossmuseum (on loan circa 1923-1930)

Breslau, Gesellschaft der Kunstfreunde Breslau, Schlesisches Museum der Bildenden Künste, Lyonel Feininger, Erich Heckel: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, 1929, no. 6

Essen, Museum Folkwang, Lyonel Feininger, 1931

Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Kronenprinzenpalais, Lyonel Feininger, 1931-32, no. 31 (as dating from 1913)

Hannover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Lyonel Feininger, 1932, no. 12 (as dating from 1913)

New York, Buchholz Gallery; New York, Willard Gallery & Grosse Pointe, The Russel A. Alger House, Detroit Institute of Arts, Lyonel Feininger, 1941, no. 3 (as dating from 1912)

Pasadena, Pasadena Art Museum, German Expressionism, 1961, no. 10 (as dating from 1914)

New York, Whitney Museum of American Art; St. Louis, City Art Museum; Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art; Philadelphia, The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago & Buffalo, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Decade of the Armory Show: New Directions in American Art 1910-1920, 1963-64, no. 39

New York, Marlborough-Gerson Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, 1969, no. 9, illustrated in the catalogue (as dating from 1914)

Zurich, Galerie Art Focus & Basel, Galerie Art Focus, Deutscher Expressionismus, Werke von 1905 bis 1930, 2001, no. 4, illustrated in the catalogue

Zurich, Galerie Art Focus, Der Sturm: Herwarth Waldens 'Sturm' in Berlin, 2002, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue

Rome, Complesso del Vittoriano, Gli Espressionisti, 1905-1920, 2002-03, illustrated in the catalogue

Literature

Willi Wolfradt, 'Lyonel Feininger', in Junge Kunst, vol. 47, Leipzig, 1924, illustrated

Hans Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, no. 127, illustrated p. 259

Angriff auf die Kunst: Der faschistische Bildersturm vor 50 Jahre (exhibition catalogue)Kunstsammlungen zu Weimar, 1988, p. 15

Lyonel Feininger. Städte und Künsten: Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgraphik (exhibition catalogue), Marburg, 1992, p. 261

Lyonel Feininger. Gelmeroda: Ein Maler und sein Motiv (exhibition catalogue), Staatliche Galerie, Moritzburg & Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, 1995, p. 18

Florens Deuchler, Lyonel Feininger. Sein Weg zum Bauhaus-Meister, Leipzig, 1996, pp. 186 & 222

Lyonel Feininger: von Gelmeroda Nach Manhattan. Retrospektive der Gemälde (exhibition catalogue), 1998, p. 331

Expressionismus in Thüringen. Facetten eines kulturellen Aufbruchs (exhibition catalogue), Galerie am Fischmarkt, Erfurt, 1999, p. 429

Martin Faass, Lyonel Feininger und der Kubismus, series XXVIII, vol. 33, Fankfurt, 1999, mentioned p. 64

Lyonel Feininger: Drawings, Watercolours and Related Oil Paintings (exhibition catalogue), Marlborough Fine Art, London, 2002, illustrated

Feininger und das Bauhaus: Weimar, Dessau, New York (exhibition catalogue), Hamburg, 2009, p. 184

Achim Moeller, Lyonel Feininger: The Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, www.feiningerproject.org, no. 140, illustrated in colour

Catalogue Note

One of Feininger’s most accomplished and striking oils painted in the cubist manner, Brücke II was inspired by a small Gothic bridge over the Ilm river near Weimar, a region that provided some of the most iconic motifs in his work, including the churches of Gelmeroda and Vollersroda. During this time Feininger was living in Berlin and often visited Weimar, either alone or accompanied by his wife Julia. This area – which they both called ‘the promised land’ – offered the artist the tranquility and solitude in which he could focus on his painting. ‘In the peace and quiet of Weimar and its surrounding Thuringian villages, untouched by modernity’s psychic fragmentation and crisis of faith, Feininger found a subject matter that answered his lifelong yearning for harmony and oneness. Since childhood, churches, mills, bridges, and houses had evoked in him deep feelings of contentment, confirming his faith that everything in the universe was ordered, rational, and infused with Divinity’ (Barbara Haskell in Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World (exhibition catalogue), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York & The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 2011-12, p. 50).

Martin Faass recounts that it was Julia Berg, Feininger’s second wife, who initially discovered the little bridge. In 1905-06 Julia, herself an artist, spent six months in Weimar for her studies, and during a walk discovered the bridge which connects the town with the suburb Oberweimar. Fascinated by the little Gothic bridge, she told Feininger, who was back in Berlin, so enthusiastically about it, that he wrote to her in anticipation of his first trip to Weimar: “I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing this bridge.” Following a visit to Oberweimar the bridge would become one of the artist’s favourite motifs from this region and over the following years was the subject of seven oils and several works on paper (M. Faass in Lyonel Feininger – Von Gelmeroda nach Manhattan (exhibition catalogue), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin & Haus der Kunst, Munich, 1998-99, p. 60).

Painted between 1912 and 1919, Feininger’s oils depicting the bridge trace the trajectory from his earliest Cubist-inspired style, which still retains his highly figurative, if stylised manner, to the more abstract, broken-down forms of his later painting. In the present oil, the diagonal of the bridge and its arches are still clearly recognisable, as are the colourful figures of fishermen in the foreground and the more sketchily rendered figures walking across the bridge. On the farther river bank, we glimpse the tree and the buildings of Weimar. In comparison to the 1913 oil Brücke I (fig. 1), which displays Feininger’s characteristic prismatic rendering of form, the present work – depicting the scene from a higher vantage point – has a more complex and more purely cubist character.

It was in 1912 that Feininger started incorporating lessons of Cubism into his own compositions. In April 1911 Feininger spent several weeks in Paris, where six of his paintings were shown at the Salon des Indépendants. It was during this visit that he first encountered the work of Cubist artists, and later recounted in a letter to a friend: ‘In the Spring I had gone to Paris and found the world agog with Cubism – a thing I had never heard even mentioned before. […] I saw the light. “Cubism” – “Form” I should rather say – to which Cubism showed the way. Afterward it was amazing to find that for years I had been on the right road… But only in Paris did I see and hear for the first time that such a thing existed’ (quoted in Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 48).

Discussing the impact of Feininger’s trip to Paris on his art, Barbara Haskell wrote: ‘Not until April 1912, a year after his introduction to Cubism, did Feininger begin to selectively incorporate into his work the style’s geometric faceting of forms. Since his earlier paintings had consisted almost entirely of flat silhouettes, his only option for suggesting three-dimensional space had been to layer his forms. Now, in works such as Angler with Blue Fish II and Bathers on the Beach I, he broke his images into geometric planes seemingly tilted at varying angles to the picture surface. The approach resembled that of the Cubists, particularly Delaunay, whose Eiffel Tower [fig. 2] had been declared by the French critic Guillaume Apollinaire the most important entry in the 1911 Salon des Indépendants. Feininger’s work differed from Delaunay’s in rejecting fragmentation and simultaneity in favor of monumentality’ (B. Haskell in ibid., p. 48).

This monumentality is certainly present in Brücke II, which depicts the scene on a large scale and renders the modest stone bridge with a sense of majestic splendour. The broken down forms of the bridge and its surroundings are at once complex and legible, and in this Brücke II displays the strong influence of French Cubism, particularly the landscapes of Georges Braque (fig. 3) perhaps more than any other work from this series. The depiction of fishermen and walking figures adds an emotional and somewhat comical element that recalls Feininger’s earlier style, a note that is absent from works of his Cubist colleagues working in Paris.

Discussing Brücke I, the composition most closely related to the present oil, Ulrich Luckhardt wrote: ‘Bridge I marks an unmistakable turning point in Feininger’s painting, wherein he moved to greater freedom of form. For the first time he succeeded in using the architecture of the arch, the rounded form, which he had so far avoided in the beach and architectural compositions that he had produced since 1912. Energy and rhythm needed to be redefined, new possibilities opened for the interplay of forms and perspectives. Although it was not to be the swinging lines themselves that he would develop consistently, their manner of extending the pictorial space was to become the decisive discovery on which the evolution of his entire œuvre was to be based’ (U. Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger, Munich, 1989, p. 80).

 

 

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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