Lot 7
  • 7

Wassily Kandinsky

600,000 - 800,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Etude pour 'L'Ensemble'
  • Signed with monogram and dated 40 (lower left);  inscribed No. 634, Projet pour no. 671 and dated 1940 on the reverse
  • Gouache on black paper
  • 11 ⅝ by 15 ½ in.
  • 29.5 by 39.5 cm


Nina Kandinsky, Paris (acquired from the artist)

Galerie Beyeler, Basel 1972 (acquired from the above in 1972)

Roman Norbert Ketterer, Campione d’Italia (1972)

Davlyn Gallery, New York (circa 1976)

Galerie Taménaga (sold: Sotheby’s Parke-Bernet, New York, November 4, 1982, lot 71A)

William Pall Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Helen and David B. Pall, New York (acquired from the above and sold: Christie’s, New York, May 7, 2005, lot 126)

MK Fine Art, Inc., New York

Acquired from the above in 2009


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Kandinsky: Acquarelle und Zeichungen, 1972, p. 77, no. 76, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Düsseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen & Stuttgart, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Kandinsky. Kleine Freuden: Aquarelle und Zeichnungen, 1992, no. 172, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Wassily Kandinsky, The Artist’s Handlist, no. 364

Will Grohmann, Wassily Kandinsky: Life and Work, New York, 1958, pp. 237 and 347, no. 748 illustrated p. 411

Roman Ketterer, Moderne Kunst VIII, Campione d’ Italia, 1973, no. 51, illustrated in color

Vivian Endicott Barnett, “Kandinsky Watercolors,” Kandinsky Watercolors. A Selection from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and The Hilla von Rebay Foundation (exhibition catalogue), New York, 1981, p. 17

Hans Roethel & Jean Benjamin, Kandinsky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Painting, 1916-1944, Ithaca, 1984, vol. II, discussed within the cataloguing for the oil (no. 1109) p. 1002

Vivian Endicott Barnett, Kandinsky Watercolors, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. II, Ithaca, 1994, no. 1269, illustrated in color p. 439


Excellent condition. Paper laid down on board. Light stain to the board. Light scuffing on the upper right and bottom center in the black of the composition. Colors are fresh and the surface 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

The French title of the present work is a result of its having been completed while the artist was in France during the war.  After he left Germany upon the closing of the Bauhaus in 1933, Kandinsky immersed himself amidst the hotbed of creative activity in Surrealist Paris.  Those pictures that he completed until his death in 1944 reflect the influences of this dominant avant-garde movement of the 1930s and early 1940s.  In many of his compositions from this era, including the present work, one can see biomorphic elements that are similar to those found in the works of Masson and Miró.  But, ever the committed theoretician, Kandinsky remained true to many of the formal principles that he had promoted while teaching at the Bauhaus. The present work, which features the precision and linear specificity so familiar in the works that the artist completed during his years in Germany, directly relates to a canvas of the same year (Roethel and Benjamin, no. 1109).

Kandinsky has plotted every element of the present composition with a calculated precision that clearly evidences the formal and mathematical influences of Bauhaus design.  The artist has taken a distinctly level-headed approach in his rendering of the composition, both in its methodical arrangement and balanced tonality.  Kandinsky credited the light in Paris with the richer tonality that is evidenced in his paintings from these years.  "The Paris light is very important to me," he wrote to Galka Scheyer in 1935.  "The difference to light in central Germany is enormous here it can be simultaneously bright and gentle.  There are gray, overcast days also, with no rain, which is rare in Germany.  The light on these gray days is incredibly rich, with a varied range of color and an endless degree of tones.  Such a quality of light reminds me of the light conditions in and around Moscow.  So I feel 'at home' in this light." (quoted in J. Hahl-Koch, Kandinsky, Brussels, 1993, p. 356).