Lot 5
  • 5

Toyen (Marie Čermínová)

120,000 - 180,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Toyen (Marie Čermínová)
  • ...Et une bouteille de rhum!
  • signed and dated Toyen 59 lower right; signed, titled and dated on the stretcher
  • oil on canvas
  • 38 by 61cm., 15 by 24in.
  • 38.1 by 61 cm


Hans Neumann, New York & Caracas (purchased in 1990); thence by descent to the present owner


Paris, Galerie Raymond Cordier, Toyen, 1962
Prague, City Gallery Prague, House of the Stone Bell, Toyen, 2000, no. 314, p. 233, illustrated in the exh. cat.


The canvas has not been lined. There is one vertical line towards the centre of the canvas which could relate to an old stretcher mark but is very subtle and not visually disturbing. The picture is otherwise in very good original condition and ultra-violet light reveals no sign of retouching. Colours are slightly less red than in the catalogue illustration. Presented in a narrow frame.
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Catalogue Note

One of the co-founders of the Czech Surrealist group in 1932, and the only female artist at the forefront of Czech Surrealism, Toyen was one of a distinguished coterie of leading female artist in international Surrealism – Kay Sage, Eileen Agar, Leonor Fini, Dorothea Tanning and Leonora Carrington. With the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, and the outbreak of the Second World War, Surrealism was classified as degenerate. Toyen withdrew from public life and the movement went underground. In 1947 Toyen moved to Paris with the poet Jindrich Heisler, whom she had sheltered from the Nazis in her apartment from 1941 - 1945, and became an active member of the Surrealist circle of artists and poets there, working alongside André Breton, whom she had met and befriended in the early 1930s.

Painted in 1959, ...Et une bouteille de rhum! dates from Toyen’s post-war Surrealist period, in which her compositions typically featured intangible hazy, amorphous backgrounds with nebulous  shapes vearing towards abstraction. From the mid-Fifties onwards, Toyen laid greater stress on the sensual aspects of colour and shape and fluid colour and produced a series of dark canvases from which colours, silhouttes or shapes would emerge.  Shimmers of colours would sometimes brighten an almost monochrome background, as in the present work. They appear as spectres which evaporate and disintegrate. „By the end of the 1950s and early 1960s Toyen had developed extreme dematerialisation of shape, reaching the very fringes of physical existence. (...) Her inner vision became so far removed from an immediate perception of the world that it was hardly possible to cling to any motif which would contribute to its clarification.‘‘ (Karel Srp, Toyen, Prague, 2000, pp. 239 & 241).

To Toyen,  free imagination assumed  the same convincing, self-evident and material consistency of the world of everyday reality. Through these paintings, the imagination seeks a world which would correspond with it in the sphere of the phenomenal real, producing the unsettling 'convulsive beauty' which for André Breton represented the aim of Surrealism in the visual arts.

Representing the unconscious and irrationality, the theme of night  was a  typical Surrealist trope, rooted in the Romantic movement of the previous century. While the present work certainly has visual parallels to an abstract nocturnal landscape, it is quintessentially an expression of Toyen’s own personal interior landscape and state of mind at the time of its creation. The title anticipates Mikulas Medek’s own abstract-surrealist works from the mid-1960s which were inspired by the works of Toyen and Max Ernst and explored the themes of sleep and alcohol-induced sleep, such as Too Much Alcohol II (Vodka) (lot 2).