Lot 18
  • 18

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)

bidding is closed


  • Piet Mondrian
  • three chysanthemums
  • signed
  • black crayon and pastel on paper


Utrecht, Kunstliefde, 1900, no. 64
Paris, Galerie Daniel Cordier, 1957, no. 13
Laren, Singer Museum, Mondriaan, Breitner, Sluijters e.a., De onstuitbare verzamelaar J.F.S. Esser, December 2005 - April 2006


R. Welsh a.o., Catalogue Raisonné of the Naturalistic Works, Blaricum/Paris 1998, no. A103, p. 198, illustrated
M. Jonkman, J. de Raad, Mondriaan, Breitner, Sluijters e.a., De onstuitbare verzamelaar J.F.S. Esser, Zwolle 2005, no. 59, p. 61, illustrated

Catalogue Note

The physician Johannes Fredericus Samuel Esser (1877-1947) has been an important early collector of Dutch artists around the turn of the 19th century. In Amsterdam Esser was the center of a group of artists such as Breitner, Witsen, Israëls, Gestel, Sluijters and Mondrian.

Not much is known about the nature of the relationship between Esser and Mondrian, but the collectioneur must have been a regular visitor of his atelier when Mondrian was only just starting and still unknown. Esser is seen as the first serious Mondrian collector. As with the works by other artists Esser focussed on the sketchy works, the ones that were ‘unfinished’. His collection comprises many drawings, watercolours and oil sketches which illustrates this preference. Monumental in this area is the drawing of three chrysanthemums by Mondrian. This very fine charcoal drawing, delicately heightened with white, yellow and blue, is dated, according to the Mondrian scholar Robert P Welsh, between the years 1899 and 1900. In these early years apparently, Mondrian already became fascinated with the flower motive. He states:

‘By then already I had an aversion to things that distinguished themselves by movement, like figures in action. I found pleasure in painting flowers, not a bouquet but a single flower at a time, all the better to depict its structure’

Mondrian produced no less than ten drawings and watercolours of this flower, mostly made in the last months of the year, as these flowers bloom in autumn. In 1900 the present drawing was shown at an exhibition in Utrecht ‘Kunstliefde’. The art critic Tertius wrote at that time: “From him there are also very good studies of chrysanthemums, in black, with a few tints added on”. A quotation that makes this drawing the single most important early precedent for the form and style in which so many chrysanthemums drawings an watercolours were made somewhat less than a decade later.

We kindly thank Drs Jacqueline de Raad for her help in cataloguing this work