Lot 109
  • 109

Robert Delaunay

150,000 - 200,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Robert Delaunay
  • Relief noir avec des cercles de couleur
  • oil, plaster and sand on plywood
  • 46 by 38cm., 18 1/8 by 15in.


Estate of the Artist
Charles Delaunay (the artist's son, by descent from the above)
Galerie Gmurzynska, Cologne
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2007


Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Robert Delaunay, 1956, no. 24, illustrated in the catalogue
Leverkusen, Städtisches Museum Morsbroich & Mannheim, Kunsthalle Mannheim, Robert Delaunay, 1956, no. 63
Ottawa, The National Gallery of Canada, Robert Delaunay Sonia, 1965, no. 47, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Orangerie des Tuileries, Robert Delaunay, 1976, no. 103, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Louis Carré et Cie., Robert Delaunay, Peintures, reliefs, aquarelles et dessins, 1980-81, no. 11, illustrated in the catalogue
Munich, Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst, Delaunay und Deutschland, 1985-86, no. 121, illustrated in the catalogue
Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Malerei im Prisma. Freundkreis Sonia und Robert Delaunay, 1991, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Barcelona, Museu Picasso, Robert I Sonia Delaunay, 2000-01, no. 176, illustrated in colour in the catalogue
Valencia, Centro Cultural Bancaja, Robert y Sonia Delaunay: Exposición Internacional de Artes y Técnicas de París 1937, 2002, n.n., illustrated in colour in the catalogue (dated 1930)


Guy Habasque, Robert Delaunay, du Cubisme à l'Art Abstrait, Paris, 1957, no. 281

Catalogue Note

Relief Noir attests to Delaunay’s mastery of colour and form. The painting is organised around a diagonal axis, along which discs are painted in an alternating sequence of large and small rings in a combination of vibrant colours. With its smooth, thin application of paint, clean contours and zones of saturated colours, this work is a stellar example of geometric abstraction creating pulsing, shimmering effects. The impression of fluidity that emanates from the painting comes, according to the painter, from ‘the harmonies created by the circular forms in their contrasting and dissonant relations, in their severest and purest expression. A study of colour expressed by the discs, the only element of the painting that carries in itself, through colour, poetic expression, creates the atmosphere of the painting. Colour is seen in force, in quantity, in modules. The harmonisation of these modules creates rhythm, this is the introduction of time into the very structure of the painting’ (quoted in Du Cubisme à l’art abstrait, Paris, 1957, p. 42).

Taking Cubism as one of his points of departure, Delaunay first developed a vocabulary of colour planes only distantly dependent on observed motifs. After painting various figurative themes during the 1920s, he returned to complete abstraction in 1930 and made numerous compositions with circular discs and colour rhythms, sometimes in low relief, such as the present work. This self-sufficient language of geometric forms and colours was perhaps a response to Gleizes’s celebrated lectures. The advocates of geometric abstraction in Paris had formed such groups as Cercle et Carré (1930) and Abstraction–Création (1931), which organised lectures, exhibitions and discussions, and to which Delaunay was invited.