Lot 19
  • 19

Alexej von Jawlensky

600,000 - 900,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexej von Jawlensky
  • signed A. Jawlensky and dated 1930 on reverse
  • oil on board
  • 51.5 by 50.2cm.
  • 20 1/4 by 19 3/4 in.


Private Collection
Galerie Beyeler, Basel (1958)
Sale: Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, 20th & 21st November 1959, lot 298
Purchased at the above sale by the family of the present owner


Saarbrücken, Saarland-Museum, Jawlensky, 1957, no. 12
Düsseldorf, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen; Hamburg, Kunstverein & Bremen, Kunsthalle, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1957-58, no. 83
Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein & Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, Jawlensky, 1958, no. 91
Los Angeles, Stephen Silagy Galleries, Jawlensky, 1958, no. 17, illustrated in the catalogue


Roman Norbert Ketterer, Dialoge, Stuttgart & Zurich, 1988, illustrated in colour p. 69
Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky. Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, London, 1992, vol. II, no. 1335, illustrated p. 439

Catalogue Note

While portraiture was the key genre of Jawlensky's art, he only painted a small number of self-portraits. Painted in 1930, Selbstbildnis follows on from the important series of Expressionist portraits which he executed in the years leading up to the First World War. With its application of colour and pronounced delineation, it reflects the strong influence of Fauve art, while simultaneously showing the features of Jawlensky's expressive style, which by the 1930s he had largely exchanged for a more abstract artistic approach. In Selbstbildnis the painter returned to his roots again and depicted himself using the characteristic elements of his Blaue Reiter period.


In both its subject and style, the present work draws on a rich tradition of modernist painting including the art of Van Gogh, Matisse and Van Dongen. The short, thick brush-strokes and the juxtaposition of bright and cool tones reflect the impact of Van Gogh. Volker Rattemeyer wrote about the influences of Fauve artists visible in Jawlensky's portraits: 'The manner in which the vivid colours and blue/black contours begin to focus on specific features – eyes, nose and mouth – seems to have been inspired by Van Dongen. In contrast to the overt sensuality of Van Dongen's portraits, Jawlensky's are dominated by an introspective seriousness' (V. Rattemeyer, Alexej von Jawlensky (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1994, p. 77). Indeed the gaze of the artist, directed with an engaging frankness, has an almost assertive, inquisitive character. Portrayed in a three-quarter profile, he captures the viewer's attention with his dark, piercing eyes that appear to be the focal point of the composition.


Discussing a related self-portrait, Ingrid Koszinowski wrote: 'It is in particular the colours, unadulterated tones applied in broad bands that give this portrait the effect of vital strength, a quality disciplined and harnessed only by the strong, dark contours. Together with the facial expression, this effect communicates the intense power the artist felt within himself – his great artistic potential and thus as well his own sense of fulfillment' (I. Koszinowski in Alexej von Jawlensky zum 50. Todesjahr, Gemälde und graphische Arbeiten (exhibition catalogue), Museum Wiesbaden, Wiesbaden, 1991, p. 112).