- Fernand Léger
- La femme au miroir
Signed F. Leger and dated 20 (lower right); signed F. Léger and inscribed très amicalement on the reverse
- Oil on canvas
Ragnar Hoppe, Stockholm, Deputy Director of the Swedish National Museums (acquired as a gift from the artist)
Private Collection (acquired from the above circa 1941)
Sale: Sotheby's, London, November 28, 1989, lot 62
Acquired at the above sale
Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Fernand Léger, 1881-1955, 1964, no. 9
La Femme au miroir exemplifies the 'éléments méchaniques' style that characterizes Léger's works of the late 1910s and early 1920s. The Cubist idioms that Léger developed in the initial decade of the movement were unique for their insistence upon the purity of primary color and reliance upon a machinist aesthetic - elements that pervade the current work. Following the success of his 'Contrast de formes' series which often focused upon the urban landscape, Léger turned to the human figure in his exploration of mechanical forms.
In the current work, Léger portrays a female model seated at her toilette looking out at the viewer behind a handheld mirror. The work belongs to a series of eight paintings on the subject. Christopher Green writes of this series from 1920: "Léger's subject here is a single figure seen half-length at a dressing-table holding up a hand-mirror whose oval outline cuts across her face, a subject perfectly geared to his destructively ambiguous intentions. Enough legible features are left to announce the essentials of the subject, the eye, the hand, and the half cup which are inserted in the état définitif being especially recognizable. But these features are dispersed as merely partial clues in a loose disintegrated array of colour planes, bars, metallic elements, and indeed, the fragmentary use of such clearly recognizable features, much more than the elusive suggestions made in themes like Le Typographe, simply serve to intensify the effect of figurative disintegration - of destruction" (Christopher Green, Léger and the Avant-Garde, New Haven & London, 1976, p. 195).
La Femme au miroir, closely related to the version now housed at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm (fig. 1), was acquired as a gift from the artist by Ragnar Hoppe. A Deputy Director of the Swedish National Museums, Hoppe was simultaneously instrumental in the museum's acquisition of the larger version which now holds a laudable position in the collection in the Moderna Museet.