Lot 4
  • 4

Paul Feiler

40,000 - 60,000 GBP
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  • Paul Feiler
  • Cove Window
  • signed, titled, dated 29.2.54/1954 and inscribed on the reverse
  • oil on board
  • 51.5 by 85cm.; 20 by 33½in.


Acquired directly from the Artist by Eugene and Penelope Rosenberg


The board is stable. There are signs of minor frame abrasion to the extreme edges with some old nail heads visible at intervals. There are minute flecks of loss to one or two of the raised tips of thicker impasto in the upper left quadrant and signs of reticulation to the black pigments in the lower right. There are traces of craquelure to the pale and dark blue pigments to the right. Small traces of surface dirt are visible but with this exception the work appears to be in good overall condition. Ultraviolet light reveals florescence consistent with the frame abrasion and old nail heads at the extreme edges of the board and a minor area in the dark blue pigments in the upper right quadrant. These have all been very sensitively executed. The painting is presented in a black frame. Please contact the department on +44 (0) 207 293 6424 if you have any questions regarding the present work.
"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

Penelope and Eugene Rosenberg first met Paul Feiler in the early 1950s; they were to support the artist for the remainder of their lives, continuously adding works by the artist to their collection. As they collected, so they became firm friends, staying with each other and visiting exhibitions together. The vast quantity of correspondence in the Rosenberg archives show a mutual appreciation of each other’s crafts and when it came to converting the disused chapel in Cornwall into his home in 1955, it was to Rosenberg that Feiler turned. Amongst other commissions, Rosenberg asked Feiler to design the tiles for the swimming pool at the Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The friendship lasted their entire lives and Penelope Rosenberg, although very ill, came to Feiler’s 95th birthday, held at the Redfern Gallery only a few months before he died last year. 

Paul Feiler first visited Cornwall in 1949 where he met Peter Lanyon. Just as the Alps at Ortisei and Garmisch–Partenkirchen had fascinated him as a child, so the drama of the Atlantic coastline of West Penwith made a connection with the artist. Four years later, Feiler decided to settle in Cornwall permanently. Using the money from his first solo show at the Redfern Gallery in 1953 which was a sell-out, he settled at Kerris, near Paul. Feiler was already in contact with Patrick Heron, Adrian Heath and Bryan Wynter with whom he had studied at the Slade (1936-9) and William Scott who he had met at Corsham. On moving to Cornwall, he joined a thriving community beginning to be appreciated internationally, particularly in America. Feiler would host a lunch for Mark Rothko on his visit to Cornwall in 1958, but Feiler had already been exhibiting in America since 1954 with his first show at the Obelisk Gallery in Washington DC.

Like many of his fellow artists associated with St Ives, Feiler was drawn to the character of the coast and the power of the sea, however, his interest was not in the views themselves, but in creating a response to the experience of the landscape.  Speaking in 1956 he described his aims: 'I have always enjoyed writing down with paint what I felt the world around me looked like. This has been a limited world; a world of wide open spaces, with snow and ice-covered mountains; later, the sea and rocks seen from a height. This has led me to try to communicate a universal aspect of forms in space; where the scale of shapes to each other and their tonal relationship convey their physical nearness to the spectator and where the overall colour and its texture supplies the emotional overtones of the personality of 'the place'' (the Artist quoted in T. Cross, Catching the Wave: Contemporary Art and Artists in Cornwall from 1975 to the Present Day, Tiverton, 2002, p. 52).

In Cove Beach Feiler uses a familiar compositional device of a window to create an interior framing of the cove, placing us at a high perspective as we look down on the beach and the sea below. The angular forms of the window are set in contrast to the organic forms of the environment it frames, and the subtle colour palette reflects the light and the shadows of the abstracted beach scene. The surface texture of the paint, applied in layers with a palette knife in thick impastoed blocks, gives the work an added depth and an almost sculptural quality.  Whilst the juxtapositions of a thickly pigmented palette of whites and blues with slate greys and browns and the vibrant yellow, capture the light and atmosphere special to the Cornish landscape. This was a lanscape Feiler delighted in as seen in his private correspondance: 'We have just been for a most exciting walk along our lane to the main road and it was all light with the blue sky and warm sun on our backs' (Paul Feiler, letter to Eugene Rosenberg, 1994, Rosenberg Archive).