Lot 351
  • 351

Peter Doig

200,000 - 300,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Peter Doig
  • Untitled (Fragment)
  • signed and dated twice 93 and 2014 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 51 by 51.4cm.; 21 1/8 by 21 1/4 in.


Private Collection, London (acquired directly from the artist)
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner in 2004

This work is a fragment of a larger canvas (now destroyed).


Colour: The colours in the catalogue are fairly accurate although the blue undertones tend more towards a pale turquoise in the original and the overall tonality is slightly warmer. Condition: This work is in very good condition. There is evidence of light handling towards the extreme outer edges. No restoration is apparent when examined under ultraviolet light.
"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

In the early 1990s Peter Doig realised a series of winter landscapes that brought him to international prominence. Having moved to London from Canada in 1989, the artist embarked on a reinterpretation of landscape painting, creating images of woodland-surrounded buildings and ethereal mountain and ski scenes that became both iconic and synonymous with his early practice.

In 1993, Doig was awarded the prestigious John Moores painting prize for Blotter, an exquisite composition based on a photograph of his brother standing on a frozen pond, the woods and surrounding snow-covered landscape mirrored by the iced water. Only one year later, Doig was shortlisted for the Turner Prize, a nomination that positioned him at the forefront of the artistic scene and heralded him becoming one of the most acclaimed figurative painters in years to come.

Executed in 1993, Untitled (Fragment) is part of the series of landscape-based paintings Doig was working on at the time. In his paintings Doig often revisits motifs or settings, creating a sense of familiarity and intimacy that is central to his work. Using a vast archive of photographs as a point of departure - some taken by him and others gathered from postcards, books, magazines and even music or film covers - Doig then explores the themes that attract his attention. However, the artist has remarked that what he looks for in his paintings is an “image that is not about a reality, but one that is somehow in between the actuality of a scene and something that is in your head” (Peter Doig quoted in: Exhibition Catalogue, Edinburgh, National Galleries of Scotland and traveling, Peter Doig: No Foreign Lands, p. 13). In Untitled (Fragment), Doig has not represented a particular landscape, but rather he has represented a memory, an idea of a landscape that has lingered in his mind. In a way akin to Caspar David Friedrich’s idealized and spiritual rendering of landscapes during the 19th Century, here Doig too presents the viewer with his own interpretation of the subject. Jennifer Higgins has rightly said about Doig’s panoramas that “although they throb with the rich surfaces of the real world...they make you think of things or states of mind that cannot be touched and rarely described” (Jennifer Higgins quoted in: Ibid., p. 13).

When looking at Untitled (Fragment) it is easy to comprehend this feeling; the viewer stands before a window that opens onto a familiar yet unrecognisable world, a dense expanse of wilderness that has a known flavour whilst being dark and enigmatic. Positioned somewhere between figuration and abstraction, Untitled (Fragment)’s beautifully painted surface draws the viewer’s gaze into the composition. Gobbets of pigment form a grid and create an illusion of leafage over delicate veils of thinly applied paint, creating a sense of depth and distance. Standing at the centre of Doig’s practice, Untitled (Fragment) is indeed an image that exists in one’s imagination, something that makes one 'think of things that cannot be touched' and certainly not described.