Lot 40
  • 40

Joan Miró

2,200,000 - 2,800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Joan Miró
  • Peinture
  • Signed Joan Miró and dated 12-32 on the reverse
  • Oil on panel
  • 12 1/2 by 9 3/4 in.
  • 32 by 25 cm


Christian Zervos, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Texidor, Barcelona

Galerie Kokaido, Tokyo (acquired in the 1980s)

Acquired from the above


(possibly) Paris, Pierre Colle, Miró, Exposition personnelle de peintures et d'objects récents, 1932

(possibly) Paris, Galerie Cahiers d'Art, Joan Miró, 1934

Tokyo, Grande Gallery Odakyu, Retrospective Exhibition of Miro, 1984, no. 8, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Cahiers d'art, nos. 1-4, Paris, 1934, illustrated in color opposite p. 18

Jacques Dupin, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné.  Paintings, vol. II,  Argenton-sur-Creuse, 2000, no. 409, illustrated p. 68               


Very good condition. The pigment is bright and fresh and the commercial panel support is stable. Under UV light, there are small areas of retouching at the top two corners and a diagonal 3-inch line of inpainting in the lower left corner, and along the top, right of center. There has been some abrasion to the lower framing edge. The upper left corner evidences a slight crease that has been flattened and is stable.
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

This extraordinary painting was completed at the end of 1932 and requested by Christian Zervos for publication in the forthcoming edition of Cahiers d'Art devoted to Miró's work.  The composition is perhaps the most refined picture in that issue and one of only two reproduced in color.  In a letter dated January 16, 1933, Miró writes to Zervos, referencing the present work as representative of his most recent compositions: "Dear friend, I have sent you today as printed matter by registered post the two three-coloured paintings you had asked for your next issue of Cahiers d'art...." (reprinted in Joan Miró, 1917-1934 (exhibition catalogue), Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2004, p. 362).  Zervos was so taken with this elegant composition that he kept it in his personal collection.

The precision, refinement and smoothness of the composition call to mind the panel paintings of the Dutch Old Masters, and it dates from the period immediately following his work on a group of paintings known as the Dutch Interiors.   In fact, Maurice Raynal noted Miró's continued affinity for the Northern Renaissance in his review of the 1934 exhibition at the Galerie Cahiers d'Art, where this work was probably featured: "Miró was able to give his composition a life of their own, full of powerful intensity.  His paintings' subjects are like so many purely plastic satires and could be related to Flemish diableries by Bruegel the Elder, or Bosch, or Callot, or to some Spanish thanksgiving plaques.  But if, with the Old Masters, satire remained a psychological theme, it is with Miró purely a matter of graphics and colours" (M. Raynal, 'Les arts: Joan Miró,' L'Intransigeant, Paris, May 17, 1934, p. 6).  

Given his personal affiliations at the time, we know that contemporary influences were also at play in Miró's art of the period.  Around the time he painted this picture, Miró was hosting the American artist Alexander Calder in Montroig while he was exhibiting his Circus installation at venues throughout Spain.  The floating elements in Miró's painting here may very well have been influenced by one of Calder's sculptures, as we know that Miró was most impressed by the sculptor's dexterity (fig. 2).

On the reverse of the panel Miró dates this picture 12-32, and it may very well have been featured in the one-man exhibition he was having that month at the Galerie Pierre Colle.  In his review of the show, E. Tériade made the following flattering remarks about the small panel pictures on view: "[T]he small panels Miró shows us today are very well made with a sure hand and their colour, always novel with him, acquires a useful density, an intense expression.  There is a sense that the artist returning, as could be expected, to painting find at its contact a new spark to translated the forms of his rich imagination." (E. Tériade, 'Joan Miró', Intransigeant, Paris, December 19, 1932, p. 7).