Lot 134
  • 134

Jean Metzinger

500,000 - 700,000 USD
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  • Jean Metzinger
  • Coupe de fruits verts et enveloppe
  • Signed with the artist's monogram (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 29 by 21 3/8 in.
  • 73.7 by 54.3 cm


Rose Fried Gallery, New York
Andrew & Geraldine Fuller, Fort Worth, Texas and New York (acquired before 1970)
Bequested from the Estate of Geraldine Spreckels Fuller to the present owner in 1999


This painting is in very good condition and should be hung as is. The canvas is unlined. The reverse of the canvas has been heavily painted with a white pigment, by the artist it seems. The paint layer is clean, stable and well stretched. The only apparent retouch is in the stem of the blue base in the center where a loss has been retouched. Other than this there are no retouches visible either under ultraviolet light and to the naked eye, and the condition is obviously beautiful. There seems to be a very slight varnish to the paint layer although the finish is uneven and the paint layer is naturally glossy. The painting is in lovely condition. The above condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com , an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Metzinger is credited with being the first to recognize stylistic similarities in the work of Picasso, Braque, Delaunay, and Le Fauçonnier, playing a crucial role in the establishment of a distinct Cubist movement. He exhibited in the Salon des Indépendants of 1911, and in the following months published a series of interviews and magazine articles defining the Cubist style. In Du Cubisme, a book he published with Albert Gleizes in 1912, he proclaimed, "To establish pictorial space, we must have recourse to tactile and motor sensations, indeed to all our faculties. It is our whole personality which, contracting or expanding, transforms the plane of the picture. As it reacts, this plane reflects the personality back upon the understanding of the spectator, and thus pictorial space is defined: a sensitive passage between two subjective spaces. The forms which are situated within this space spring from a dynamism which we profess to dominate. In order that our intelligence may possess it, let us first exercise our sensitivity. There are only nuances. Form appears endowed with properties identical to those of color. It is tempered or augmented by contact with another form, it is destroyed or it flowers, it is multiplied or it disappears" (translated in Robert L. Herbert, ed., Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 8).

Coupe de fruits verts et enveloppe embodies the artistic principles that Metzinger put forth in his seminal essay. The vessels, implements and fruit on the table, as well as the interactions of these objects with light and surfaces, are defined solely by the juxtaposition of varying hues of color and by contrasting brushstrokes and patterns. Metzinger has succeeded in creating active space throughout the entire picture plane such that the textured red table top appears to recede into the background without leaving its contents suspended unnaturally in space. The influences of Picasso and Gris inform the painting, particularly in the skillful rendering of faux-bois textures, but the exploration of temporality is particular to Metzinger. The carte de visite placed amid the objects on the table top provides a semiotic gesture of Synthetic cubism and reveals the significance of this movement to the birth of Modernism. The address on the envelope reads "121 Aven" - a reference to the artist's Parisian home between 1916 and 1929, 121 Avenue Félix Faures. Indeed, Coupe de fruits verts et enveloppe was created at a moment when the artist "became much more interested in bold patterning and decorative detail, and was more likely to integrate typography into the composition [...] Small circular forms, representing pipe bowls, bottle openings, cup rims, clocks, fruit, or simple dot patterns, unite various areas of the composition, at times suggesting witty visual puns, such as eyes or olives" (Joann Moser, Jean Metzinger in Retrospect (exhibition catalogue), Iowa City, 1985, p. 45).

Lots 133 and 134, being sold by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to benefit future acquisitions, previously held honorable positions in the collection of Andrew and Geraldine Fuller, Fort Worth, Texas and New York. Guided by the insightful vision of Geraldine, the Fullers amassed a notable collection of Modern masterpieces. The works remained in the estate of Geraldine Spreckels Fuller until 1999.

Fig. 1 Jean Metzinger, Tea Time (Woman with a Teaspoon), 1911, oil on cardboard, Philadelphia Museum of Art