Lot 20
  • 20

Alexej von Jawlensky

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  • Alexej von Jawlensky
  • Signed with the initials A.J. (upper left)
  • Oil on cardboard laid down on canvas


Estate of the artist

Acquired from the above by the present owner in the late 1960s


Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1964, no. 49

Frankfurt-am-Main, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1967, no. 13

New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Fauves and Expressionists, 1968, no. 35

Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, The Blue Four and German Expressionism, 1974, no. 15

New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Der Blaue Reiter und sein Kreis, 1977, no. 21

Munich, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus; Baden-Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Alexej Jawlensky 1864-1941, 1983, no. 67 (as dating from 1910)

London, Royal Academy of Arts; Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie, German Art in the 20th Century, Painting and Sculpture 1905-1985, 1985-86, no. 48

Turin, Lingotto, Arte russa e sovietica 1870-1930, 1989, no. 109

Madrid, Fundació Juan March; Barcelona, Museo Picasso, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1992, no. 36

Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Figures du Moderne, L’Expressionnisme en Allemagne 1905 à 1914, 1992-93, no. 221

Bietigheim-Bissingen, Städtische Galerie, Alexej von Jawlensky: Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, 1994, no. 13

Murnau, Schlossmuseum des Marktes, Alexej von Jawlensky: Frühe Portrats 1908-1913, 1995

Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Von der Brücke zum Blauen Reiter – Farbe, Form und Ausdruck in der deutschen Kunst von 1905 bis 1914, 1996

Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, New York, Feminine Image, 1997, no. 3

Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Le fauvisme ou ‘l’épreuve du feu’: Éruption de la modernité en Europe, 1999-2000, no. 151

Basel Kunsthaus, on loan (1997-2002)


Clemens Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 57, illustrated p. 230 (as dating from 1910)

Ewald Rathke, Alexej Jawlensky, Hanau, 1968, no. 13

Jürgen Schultze, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1970, no. 4, illustrated p. 63

Nessa Forman, "A different League," The Sunday Bulletin, Philadelphia, March 31, 1974, illustrated

Erich W. Wolf, "Alexej Jawlensky. Ein leuchtendes Erbe," Pan, Offenburg, June 1983, no. 6, illustrated pp. 3 and 93

Mariatheresia Gehrke, "Im Gesicht tritt die Seele ans Fenster," Chic, Cologne, September 1983, illustrated p. 16

Dr. Hans Peters Verlag, "Jawlensky 1985," Calendar, Hanau, 1984, illustrated on front cover

Verlag Gruner+Jahr AG & Co., "Acht Jahrzehnte deutscher Kunst," Art, Hamburg, October 1985, illustrated p. 22

Charles Doria, ed., Russian Samizdat Art, New York, 1986, illustrated p. 41

Adolf Korsch Verlag, "Alexej Jawlensky, 1987," Calendar, Munich, June 1987, illustrated

Alexej Jawlensky: From Appearance to Essence (exhibition catalogue), Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California, 1991, fig. 9, illustrated p. 21 (titled Schokko with a Wide-brimmed hat and dating from 1910)

Angelica Jawlensky, "Dear Jawlensky," FMR, Milan and New York, February 1991, no. 48, illustrated p. 127

Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky and Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Volume One, 1890-1914, London, 1991, no. 318, illustrated p. 250

Itzhak Goldberg, "Le Cavalier bleu," Beaux-Arts, in ‘Expressionnisme Allemand,’ Paris, November 1992, illustrated p. 34

Phaidon Press Limited, The Art Book, London, 1994, illustrated p. 235

"Jawlensky Besucher-Magnet" (exhibition review), Murnauer Tagblatt, Murnau and Paris, 1995, illustrated

Jean-Claude Marcadé, L’Avant-Garde Russe, Paris, 1995, illustrated pl. XVII

"’Schokko’ bleibt vorerst in Basel," Basler Zeitung, Basel, June 28-29, 1997, no. 148, illustrated p. 39

Véronique Prat, "Les Fauves – Ceux par qui le scandale est arrivé" (exhibition review), Le Figaro Magazine, Paris, November 13, 1999, illustrated

The State Russian Museum, Alexej Jawlensky: A Biography, St. Petersburg, 2000, illustrated p. 71

Catalogue Note

Portraiture occupies a central position in Jawlensky’s oeuvre, and the changing features in his female portraits throughout the years parallel major developments in his art. Schokko was painted circa 1910 at the time when Jawlensky produced some of his strongest and most expressive portraits. In the years leading up to the First World War, the artist executed an important series of heads, which reflect his fundamental debt to Fauve art, while simultaneously showing the fully developed features of Jawlensky’s unique, decidedly personal style. In the following years he gradually abandoned these brilliantly colored, highly expressive portraits in favor of the stricter, more geometrically composed ones.

Looking back at the pre-war years, the artist himself identified this phase in his career as crucial: "I painted my finest… figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours and not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were very strongly contoured in Prussian blue and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy… It was a turning point in my art. It was in these years up to 1914 just before the war, that I painted my most powerful works" (A. von Jawlensky, quoted in "Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, 1937" in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, op.cit., p. 31). This range of bright, vivid colors is present in Schokko: the violet in the background is slightly cool in relation to the magnificent fiery red of the model's blouse, and consequently appears to recede as the blouse projects forward. Another striking color combination occurs in the yellow-green planes of the face and the richly varied palette in the large, elaborate hat.


Schokko (Schokko mit tellerhut) is one of the most powerful and stylized of all Jawlensky’s female portraits of 1910, contrasting markedly with the painting that was originally on the reverse, Schokko mit rotem hut, 1909 (see fig. 2). Her exotic appearance and elaborate apparel notwithstanding, the model was a young girl from a village near Munich. Before posing in Jawlensky’s cold studio, she liked to drink a cup of hot chocolate. Her requests for "a cup of Schokko" led to the nickname given to her by the Jawlenskys.


In both its choice of theme and style of execution, the present work draws on a rich tradition of modernist painting, including the art of, amongst others, Van Gogh, Matisse and Van Dongen. The short, thick brush-strokes and the juxtaposition of brighter and cooler tones reflect the influence of Van Gogh and Cézanne, with a zigzag application of paint characteristic of Jawlensky’s own style of this period. In 1905 his works were exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris alongside those of the Fauve artists, whose work exerted the strongest influence on the development of Jawlensky’s style in the following years. His abandonment of the representational function of color in favor of a more spontaneous, expressive one is strongly reminiscent of Matisse’s portraits at the height of his Fauve period (see fig. 3).


Although often associated with the German Expressionists, Jawlensky’s art is very different in character. Of Russian birth and privileged background, Jawlensky traveled extensively after leaving Russia for Munich in 1896 and was exposed to a wide range of influences. Between 1903 and 1907 he made frequent trips to France where he came under the influence not only of the great predecessors of the modern movement, Cézanne and Van Gogh, but also of the Neo-Impressionists and Matisse. The example of Van Gogh meant so much to him that, although he could ill afford it, he purchased Van Gogh’s La maison du Père Pilon in 1908.


The distance Jawlensky had traveled in the decade before painting the work under discussion can be seen by comparing it with Maria 1, 1901 (see fig. 4), a portrait of the younger sister of Helen, the wife of the artist. The 1901 portrait is very clearly a depiction of an individual, painted in a fluent tonal manner that can be compared with the work of many artists, both European and American, who painted in a realist style at the end of the nineteenth century. In his memoirs Jawlensky referred to the influence of Anders Zorn at this stage in his development. In contrast, a recognizable likeness was not an issue when Jawlensky asked the model Schokko to pose for him. The forms, heavily outlined in black, have been simplified to the bold arcs that define the rim of the hat and the sweep of the shoulders. The face has been simplified to a boldly modeled mask rendered in yellow and green, while the eyes are lowered and half-closed in shadow.


In a famous letter originally thought to have been written by Jawlensky but now attributed to Marianne Von Werefkin, Jawlensky’s companion, the extent of his indebtedness to those artists and their ideas is readily apparent:


"My temperament having led me to colour, it is this that I entrust with the task of reproducing my ideas and emotions as inspired by the nature I find around me. But the thing which never leaves me and which leads me through all the experiences of an artist’s life is the thought that life is the object of creative art neither in its dead, material aspect nor in the rigid form of moral reflections. Art is there to reproduce the things which are not, which at most have only a potential existence…To reproduce these things that are there without being, to reveal them to others by allowing them to pass through my sympathetic understanding, by making them apparent through the passion which I feel for them….that is the goal of my life as an artist. Apples, trees, human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in them – the life of colour, seized with a lover’s passion" (Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky Heads Faces Meditations, London, 1970, p.105).


The summers of 1908 and 1909 spent in Murnau in the company of Marianne von Werefkin, Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter saw the evolution of a personal style that culminated in the series of landscapes of the Bavarian countryside and the large scale portraits of friends such as Bildnis des Tanzers Sacharoff, circa 1909 and the work under discussion.


According to Anne Mochon, "The paintings of female models in exotic or elegant costumes assumed a theatrical remove unlike anything Jawlensky had done previously. Witnessing the dancer Sacharoff’s transformations in costume and pose seems to have opened a new interpretative realm for the artist, allowing for contrasting layers of erotic meanings. The role-playing imagery intrigued him, and he used a variety of model types in diverse costume. As he began to focus on the female face to the exclusion of other figure types during 1911 and 1912, several personality types emerged in his work.  Schokko (Schokko mit tellerhut) depicts a mannequin-like image of a fashionable young woman, whose erotic appeal is presented as a contrast of opposites in content as well as form. Her mask-like face suggests sexual remoteness but is surrounded by flagrant reds, clashing with the rosier ground. Unlike Matisse’s striking use of color opposites in Woman with a Hat, 1905, which Jawlensky must have seen in 1905, the color clashes in Schokko with a Wide-brimmed Hat create emotional rather than purely visual responses" (Anne Mochon, "Introduction," in Alexej Jawlensky : From Appearance to Essence (exhibition catalogue), Long Beach Museum of Art, 1991, pp.20-21).



Fig. 1, The artist in Munich, circa 1905

Fig. 2, Alexej Jawlensky, Schokko mit rotem Hut, 1909, oil on cardboard, Private Collection, USA

Fig. 3, Henri Matisse, Portrait de femme (la ligne verte), 1905, oil on panel, Copenhagen, Statens Museum fur Kunst

Fig. 4, Alexej Jawlensky, Maria , 1901, oil on canvas, laid down on cardboard, Private Collection