Lot 13
  • 13

Fernand Léger

2,250,000 - 3,250,000 USD
2,322,500 USD
bidding is closed


  • Fernand Léger
  • Roses et compas
  • Signed F. Léger and dated 25 (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 35 5/8 by 25 5/8 in.
  • 92 by 65 cm


Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie de L'Effort Moderne), Paris

Private Collection, Switzerland

Galerie Louis Carré, Paris

Sidney Janis Gallery, New York

Manufacturer's Hanover (c/o Lester Samsen), New York (by circa 1950 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 10, 1988, lot 28)

David L. Dennis (acquired at the above sale)

Sale: Christie's, New York, May 12, 1993, lot 37

Acquired at the above sale


Paris, Galerie Louis Carré, Fernand Léger.  Peintures antérieures à 1940, 1945, illustrated in the catalogue

New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, Léger Paintings, 1952, no. 18, illustrated in the catalogue


Bulletin de l'Effort Moderne, no. 21, Paris, January 1926, illustrated

"Fernand Léger au Kunsthaus de Zürich," Cahiers d'Art, no. 3-4, Paris, 1933, illustrated

Pierre Descargues, Fernand Léger, Paris, 1955, illustrated p. 88

Jean Cassou & Jean Leymarie, Fernand Léger, drawings and gouaches, London, 1973, fig. T36, illustated p. 92

Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue raisonné, 1925-1928, Paris, 1993, no. 418, illustrated in color p. 47

Catalogue Note

With its fine-pointed compass, this boldly-colored still-life alludes to the importance of architecture as an aesthetic influence in Léger's painting  in the years after the war and his association with the Purist artists Amédée Ozenfant and Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier).  Le Corbusier, who made more of a name for himself as an architect than as a painter, was a leading proponent of mathematical precision and the solidity of form in art.  Léger was initially drawn to the general principles of Purism but ultimately found them too rigid for his painting.  But in this picture, Léger focuses on the clarity and solid geometry of his objects, adhering to the primary concerns of the Purist objective. 

Writing about Léger's oil paintings from 1924-27, Christopher Green commented: "They are the product of a pictorial idea of the figure or object whose brutal 'plastic' simplicity is personal, but which is the product of an approach to the realities of modern life indelibly tinged with the idealism of L'Esprit Nouveau, an approach which remains stubbornly 'realist' but whose highly selective vision of the world picks out the most useful, the most geometrically 'pure', the most precisely finished of its manufactures, and subjects even the nude or the figurative fragment to the mass-production yet 'classical' values thus extracted. And in their grand, harmonious architecture with its clear articulation of spatial incident, these paintings are at the same time the product of an international avant-garde [...] Their assurance and the conviction they carry is founded on more than fifteen years of faith in what was then most modern about the industrial world, of openness to what was most new in the avant-garde and of experiment in book illustration, theatre and film as well as in painting" (C. Green, op. cit., p. 310).

Since it was always Léger's concern to present the subject matter of his paintings in the clearest way possible, emphasizing contrasts of form and color, it is no surprise that many of his major works were preceded by preliminary versions. Such is the case with the present work. Comparison of the smaller version of the same motif (Bauquier 417) shows that in the process of enlargement Léger clarified and sharpened his forms, making numerous small adjustments that add to the precision of the image.