Lot 62
  • 62

Kay Sage

70,000 - 90,000 GBP
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  • Kay Sage
  • Le Passage
  • signed Kay Sage and dated '56 (lower right); signed Kay Sage, titled, dated '56 and inscribed Woodbury, Conn. on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 91 by 71cm.
  • 35 3/4 by 28in.
Oil on canvas, 1956


Catherine Viviano Gallery Inc., New York

Acquired from the above by the late owner on 21st November 1958


New York, Catherine Viviano Gallery, Kay Sage: Exhibition of Paintings, Collages, Drawings, 1958, no. 1

New York, Catherine Viviano Gallery, Kay Sage: Retrospective Exhibition, 1937-1958, 1960, no. 50, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Ithaca, New York, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University; College Park, Art Gallery, University of Maryland  & Albany, Albany Institute of History and Art, Kay Sage, 1898-1963, 1977, no. 55, illustrated in the catalogue

Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts,  La Femme et le Surréalisme, 1987-88, illustrated in the catalogue

Athens, Georgia, Georgia Museum of Art; San Antonio, The Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum; Long Beach, Long Beach Museum of Art & Allentown, Allentown Art Museum, High Drama: Eugene Berman and the Legacy of the Melancholic Sublime, 2005-06, no. 35, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Whitney Chadwick, Women Artists and the Surrealist Movement, Boston, 1985, illustrated in colour pl. III; illustrated in colour on the dustjacket

Jessica Amanda Salmonson (ed.), What Did Miss Darrington See?: an Anthology of Feminist Supernatural Fiction, New York, 1989, illustrated in colour on the cover

Whitney Chadwick & Isabelle de Courtivron (eds.), Significant Others, New York & London, 1993, illustrated p. 149

Robert J. Belton, The Beribboned Bomb: the Image of Woman in Male Surrealist Art, Calgary, 1995, illustrated p. 267

Judith D. Suther, A House of Her Own: Kay Sage, Solitary Surrealist, London, 1997, illustrated in colour opposite p. 185

Stephen Robeson Miller & Kay Sage, The Biographical Chronology and Four Surrealist One-Act Plays, New York, 1983/2011, listed in the section for 1956


The canvas is unlined. Apart from some spots of retouching along all four edges visible under ultra-violet light, this work is in very good condition. Colours: Overall fairly accurate in the printed catalogue illustration, although the blue tones are more pronounced 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

Having lived in America and Italy, in 1937 Kay Sage moved to Paris. In early 1938 she saw the Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts, and this exposure to Surrealism inspired a new direction in her painting. It was during this exhibition that Sage met Yves Tanguy; the two immediately fell in love, and married in 1940, after moving together to the United States.

Michael Duncan wrote: ‘[Tanguy] and Sage were one of the past century’s great artistic couples, thriving on each other’s refined aestheticism. After Tanguy’s sudden death in 1955, Sage suffered from vision problems and eventually stopped painting. Le Passage, her last self-portrait, expressing her devastating loneliness, presents an inward-turning figure, back to the viewer, who faces a barren plain of flat shards’ (M. Duncan in High Drama: Eugene Berman and the Legacy of the Melancholic Sublime (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 108).

The present work by Kay Sage was sold to Stanley J. Seeger by the New York dealer Catherine Viviano in 1958. Seeger, a quiet, immensely private man, was one of the greatest collectors of his generation, whose remarkable eye led him to acquire an outstanding collection of works of art from Old Masters to contemporary painters. He was introduced to Kay Sage by Viviano in the late 1950s and a lasting friendship resulted between artist and collector.