Lot 2
  • 2

Alexej von Jawlensky

800,000 - 1,200,000 GBP
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  • Alexej von Jawlensky
  • oil on board laid down on panel
  • 56.6 by 71.7cm.
  • 22 1/4 by 28 1/4 in.


Acquired by the father of the present owner in the 1950s


Stuttgart, Württembergischer Kunstverein & Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, Alexej von Jawlensky, 1958, no. 32
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Neuere Kunst aus württembergischem Privatbesitz, 1973, no. 60, illustrated in the catalogue
Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Brücke, Bauhaus, Blaue Reiter: Schätze der Sammlung Max Fischer, 2010, no. 26, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, Volume One 1890-1914, London, 1991, no. 300, illustrated p. 255


The board is laid down on panel and the panel is sound. There are some minor losses to the extreme edges of the board, not visible when framed. There is a small surface irregularity in the pale blue pigment towards the centre of the upper edge, with some associated retouching. There are some further scattered spots and lines of retouching surrounding this area and within the pale blue pigments around the red flowers to the right of the composition, a thin vertical line to the right of the plant pot, some spots and lines within the green pigments of the table, to the right of the red cup and some other small spots and lines of retouching, all visible under ultra-violet light. This work is in good, stable condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although slightly brighter in the original.
"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Painted circa 1909, Stillleben mit Blumen und Orangen is a wonderfully vivid composition that belongs to a highly innovative period of Jawlensky's œuvre. The years 1908 and 1909 mark an important turning point in his development as an artist. Jawlensky began to paint in a more expressive, and indeed Expressionistic, manner that would inform his work throughout his career. Working alongside Kandinsky and Münter and influenced by the richness of colour he witnessed in the works of Van Gogh and the Fauve artists, Jawlensky produced some of his most important works during this period.

Looking back at the pre-war years, the artist himself identified this phase in his career as crucial: 'I painted my finest paintings in powerful, glowing colours and not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were strongly contoured in Prussian blue and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy... It was a turning point in my art. It was in these years up to 1914 just before the war that I painted my most powerful works' (quoted in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, op. cit., p. 31).

With its strong colours and vigorous brushwork, Stillleben mit Blumen und Orangen reflects the influence that Fauve painting made on the artist. In 1905 Jawlensky met Matisse, whose work, together with the art of Gauguin and Van Gogh exerted a major influence on his paintings at the time. In his memoirs, dictated to Lisa Kümmel in 1937, Jawlensky recalled: 'At the time I was painting mostly still-lifes because in them I could more easily find myself. I tried in these still-life paintings to go beyond the material objects and express in colour and form the thing which was vibrating within me, and I achieved some good results' (quoted in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, op. cit., p. 30).

The artist's main preoccupation at this time was the rejection of impressionistic copies of nature and a move towards expressing the emotions aroused by colour and form. Volker Rattemeyer writes: 'It was a quest for a form which sought to fuse the impressions received from nature (the external world) with the experiences of the internal world. This search for 'synthetism' - a key concept in the art theory formulated by Gauguin's successors - was to culminate in an art which presented perceived nature in all its beauty, cleansed, as it were, of all irrelevant forms. Adamant in its rejection of Impressionism, the artistic renewal postulated in these terms was expected to generate a painting which would be seen first and foremost as a surface on which colours and forms were arranged in such a way as to establish relationships (V. Rattemeyer, 'From the large figural representations to the 'Meditations' - Jawlensky's series', in Alexej von Jawlensky (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1994, p. 21).

After encountering the Fauves during the 1905 Salon d'Automne, where Jawlensky exhibited some of his works, Jawlensky's paintings began to show the influence of his French contemporaries. The present still-life not only reflects the artist's admiration for works by Matisse but also for Cézanne, whose paintings he saw in Paris at the same time. The simplified shapes and naïve imagery in Stillleben mit Blumen und Orangen can, however, also be traced back to indigenous Russian painting of the time. The present work is a beautiful culmination of all these different influences - the decorative pattern of the tablecloth is reminiscent of Matisse's work (fig. 1); the composition of the still-life indebted to similar works by Cézanne and the objects themselves seem to recall Russian paintings. Enriched by these influences, Stillleben mit Blumen und Orangen is a wonderful testimony to the artist's evolution of a personal style, marking the painter's transition as one of the most important  Expressionist artists. 

FIG. 1, Henri Matisse, Bouquet de fleurs pour le quatorze juillet, 1919, oil on canvas. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 5th May 2010

FIG. 2, Alexej von Jawlensky, Stillleben mit Blumen und Früchten, 1910, oil on board, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie, Berlin