Anemones was executed in 1932 during a period of great change and success in Pavel Tchelitchew's career, when he began to focus on brighter, more luminous splashes of color. Though circus-themed works figure most prominently in his oeuvre from this period, Tchelitchew also painted a small but significant number of still life compositions, each portraying commonplace objects mystically animated with light and energy.
In the present lot, the incandescent glow that radiates from each flower prefigures the synergy of the artist's geometric Interior Landscapes (1943-1946) and Space Compositions (1950-1956). Anemones appear frequently in Tchelitchew's oeuvre and perhaps allude to their symbolic meaning in Greek mythology. When Adonis, favorite of Aphrodite and archetype of young, masculine beauty, was fatally wounded by a boar while hunting, red anemones rose from his blood, thus signifying rebirth and the circle of life. Similarly, these flowers have come to symbolize Christ's blood in representations of the crucifixion.
Anemones belonged to the famed New York interior designer Eleanor McMillen Brown, a pioneer in the field whose clients included Henry Ford II and Marshall Field. It is possible she acquired the work directly from the artist during his time in New York, and it has remained in the family's collection ever since its purchase.
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