58
58

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Robert Delaunay
HOMMAGE À BLÉRIOT NO. 2 (FRAGMENT)
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 698,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
58

PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN

Robert Delaunay
HOMMAGE À BLÉRIOT NO. 2 (FRAGMENT)
Estimate
600,000800,000
LOT SOLD. 698,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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Robert Delaunay
1885 - 1941
HOMMAGE À BLÉRIOT NO. 2 (FRAGMENT)
Signed R. Delaunay and inscribed Blériot no. 2 on a label affixed to the reverse
Distemper on joined canvas
42 1/8 by 71 5/8 in., 107 by 182 cm
Painted in 1913-14.  This work consists of two of three fragments of an original composition by Robert Delaunay which were reunited in 1988-89 under the supervision of the Kunsthaus, Zürich.  There is, on the verso of this painting, a composition by Sonia Delaunay painted in 1930 and fully catalogued at the beginning of the note.
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The authenticity of these works by Robert and Sonia Delaunay has been confirmed by Richard Riss.

verso of the present work

Sonia Delaunay 1885-1979

RYTHME COLORÉ (DISQUES)

Signed Sonia Delaunay and dated 1930 (lower right)
Oil on canvas
131 by 97cm.   51 1/2 by 38 1/8 in.

Painted in 1930.

Provenance

Main fragment (left side):

Sonia Delaunay Paris (until at least 1963)
E. Hostettler, Bern
Private Collection, Switzerland (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, London, 30th November 1987, lot 58)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Smaller fragment (right side):

Philippe Grosjean, Geneva
Acquired from the above by the present owner in June 1988

The two parts were reunited at the Kunsthaus, Zurich in 1988-89.

Exhibited

Barcelona, Palais des Beaux-Arts, 1918
Zurich, Kunstsalon Wolfsberg, Produktion Paris 1930, 1930
Paris, Galerie Bing, Sonia Delaunay, 1953, no. 23
Bern, Kunstmuseum, Sonia & Robert Delaunay, 1991-92, nos. 43 & 44, both paintings by Robert and Sonia illustrated in color in the catalogue (with incorrect measurements)
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Robert Delaunay 1906-1914. De l'impressionnisme à l'abstraction, 1999, Robert illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Barcelona, Museu Picasso, Robert i Sonia Delaunay, 2000-01, nos. 49 & 174, Robert and Sonia illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Basel, Kunstmuseum, Robert Delaunay. Hommage à Blériot, 2008, no. 5, Robert illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Hannover, Sprengel Museum, Marc, Macke und Delaunay, 2009, no. 27, Robert illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Literature

Franz Meyer, 'Robert Delaunay, "Hommage à Blériot. 1914,"' Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel, Jahresbericht, Basel, 1962, pp. 77-78

Catalogue Note

'Aviation held a great fascination for both Delaunay and myself in 1913 and 1914. The heroics of Latham, Blériot fascinated us.'  --  Sonia Delaunay-Terk

Robert Delaunay executed several oils as well as preparatory sketches on the subject of Hommage à Blériot, including the monumental version now in the collection of Kunstmuseum, Basel. The present work consists of two fragments from the second largest version, which was subsequently cut up by the artist, and which is known today in its entirety only from a black-and-white photograph. The top half of the initial canvas was repainted by Robert Delaunay in 1930. The bottom half was separated into two fragments, which were subsequently reunited in 1989, bringing the picture to its current state.  The larger of those two fragments was used by Sonia Delaunay, who painted Rythme coloré (disques) on the reverse in 1930.  This was one of her first compositions from the Rythmes-Couleur series, which was to become the major subject throughout her career.

Hommage à Blériot no. 2 belongs to a small group of pivotal works Robert Delaunay executed in 1913-14, inspired by Louis Blériot, a French aviator and engineer who was the first to cross the English Channel in an aircraft, flying from Calais to Dover in July 1909.  The event caused a great deal of excitement, was widely reported by the media, and cheered by the public on both sides of the channel.  Delaunay was fascinated by this great feat of engineering; indeed, themes of mechanical techology played an important role in the aesthetic of Orphism.  His works on the subject, reflecting his fascination with this powerful symbol of technological advances of his time, was the subject of a major exhibition in Kunstmuseum, Basel in 2008, in which the present work was included.

As Roland Wetzel explained in the exhibition catalogue: 'One of the achievements of the second wave of industrial revolution was the rapid development of the transportation system.  As the airspace was being conquered, pilots and engineers became the heroes of a new era. [...]  For the pioneers of French aviation, crossing the English Channel was an event with special significance as it allowed them to demonstrate that the ingenuity of French constructors had eliminated the technical deficit in comparison to the advances of the American Wright brothers' (R. Wetzel in Robert Delaunay. Hommage à Blériot (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 7).

 

Fig. 1, Robert Delaunay, Hommage à Blériot No. 2, 1913-14, distemper on canvas. Photograph of the integral work before it was cut.
Fig. 2, Robert Delaunay, Hommage à Blériot, 1913-14, distemper on canvas, Kunstmuseum, Basel
Fig. 3, Robert Delaunay in front of another version of Hommage à Blériot. Photograph by T. Bonney

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