Lot 12
  • 12

Milton Avery 1885 - 1965

200,000 - 300,000 USD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Milton Avery
  • Yellow Flowers
  • signed Milton Avery and dated 1949 (lower left)
  • oil on canvasboard
  • 17 3/4 by 23 7/8 inches
  • (45.1 by 60.6 cm)


Sold: Christie's, New York, December 1, 1989, lot 271, illustrated
Acquired by the present owner at the above sale

Catalogue Note

Yellow Flowers of 1949 is a wonderful synthesis of Milton Avery’s still life and figural work that demonstrates his mastery of color and composition.  Here he presents a cheery vase of yellow flowers set within a semi-abstracted interior that manifests his thoroughly modern approach to traditional subject matter.

In Yellow Flowers Avery closely crops the composition and slightly skews the perspective, creating a visually engaging arrangement of form, tone and texture.  He reduces the table and walls to flat blocks of subdued color and juxtaposes them with the more brightly-hued and textured areas of sgraffito in the vase, mirror and self-portrait, as well as the thicker paint application in the flowers, to create a dynamic surface. He adds further complexity to the composition by contrasting the soft, organic forms of the brightly colored blooms and leaves with the hard angles of the table and mirror. The partial cropping of Avery’s face echoes that of the mirror’s frame accentuating the tilting perspective.

Avery was greatly influenced by Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio of 1911 (Museum of Modern Art, New York) and similarly often depicted paintings within his paintings.  In Yellow Flowers, the mirror acts in much the same fashion, allowing the artist to cleverly add a self-portrait alongside the still life. The bold and visually pleasing composition of Yellow Flowers is testament to Mark Rothko’s statement that, “Avery is first a great poet.  His is the poetry of sheer loveliness, of sheer beauty” (Barbara Haskell, Milton Avery, New York, p. 181).