Lot 37
  • 37

Paul Klee

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
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  • Paul Klee
  • Die Glocke! (The Bell!)
  • signed Klee (upper right); titled, dated 1919 and numbered 218 on the artist's mount
  • watercolour on paper with paper borders laid down on the artist's mount
  • image size: 18.4 by 17cm.; 7 1/4 by 6 3/4 in.
  • mount size: 30.5 by 24cm.; 12 by 9 1/2 in.


Heinrich & Adda Campendonk, Seeshaupt, Krefeld, Düsseldorf & Amsterdam (a gift from the artist in 1920)

Private Collection, Germany (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, London, 6th February, 2006, lot 18)

Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


Munich, Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Das Ewige Auge - Von Rembrandt bis Picasso. Meisterwerke aus der Sammlung Jan Krugier und Marie-Anne Krugier-Poniatowski, 2007, no. 159, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


The Artist's Handlist, 1919, no. 218

Paul Klee Foundation (ed.) Paul Klee, Catalogue raisonné, Bern, 1999, vol. 3, no. 2282, illustrated p. 132


Executed on wove paper, laid down on commercially printed decorative paper which is laid down on the artist's mount. The artist's mount is foxed throughout, more significantly on the reverse. The artist's mount was at some stage taken off a previous mount, resulting in some scuffing and glue remnants along the top (not visible when mounted). Apart from some surface rubbing with associated small losses in the upper left and lower left, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although slightly fresher 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

Executed in 1919, Paul Klee’s Die Glocke! vividly depicts the pealing of bells at night. The expressionistic arrangement of the buildings and trees, rendered in a gas-lit palette with strong contrasts and enhanced by the scratching out technique - reminiscent of engraving - instill the sense of threat intimated by the exclamatory title and sharply defined imagery. Architecture was one of the most important subjects of the artist’s work, as Christina Thomson notes: ‘Architectural and urbanistic forms permeate his entire œuvre, at both a structural-theoretical level and with respect to motif. Klee gives his architecture countless faces. He represents it in cities, villages, and houses; he piles it up into palaces, temples, and castles, concentrates it into urban bundles, blends it with natural landscapes, transforms it into a stage, lets it withdraw into interior spaces, and dissects it into individual parts. […] Klee causes real architectural forms to collide with invented or symbolic elements, mixing the familiar with the visionary and space with dream. The result is fantastical cities, castles in the air, and dream worlds that fuse into a singularly dynamic architectural cosmos: nothing is rigid and purely geometric; everything pulsates, swells, follows, hovers, or glows’ (C. Thomson in The Klee Universe (exhibition catalogue), Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 2008, p. 231).

In 1919 Klee secured a three-year contract with the dealer Hans Goltz, whose influential Munich gallery promoted his art, including a large retrospective exhibition of some 370 works held in 1920. It was later that year that Klee was invited by the architect Walter Gropius to teach at the Bauhaus, and subsequently moved to Weimar in 1921, when his work would become increasingly abstract and geometricised. The humorous note and child-like style of the present work and many others from this time were probably a reaction to the harsh reality of the aftermath of the First World War.

The first owners of Die Glocke! were the expressionist painter Heinrich Campendonk and his wife Adda. Campendonk and Klee formed part of the Blaue Reiter group based in Munich. Together with Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, the artists sought to develop a new means of artistic expression and rejected the prevailing artistic theories of the time, in particular that of the Impressionists. Klee gave Die Glocke! to Campendonk in 1920 and it remained in his family's possession until 2006.