Lot 1
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Yves Tanguy

400,000 - 600,000 USD
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  • Yves Tanguy
  • Le Prodigue ne revient jamais III
  • Signed Yves Tanguy (lower right)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 11 by 9 in.
  • 28 by 23 cm


Hugh Chisholm, Jr., Hillsboro, California

Mr. & Mrs. Jerome L. Stern, Westhampton, New York

Richard L. Feigen, New York

Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Yaseen, New York (acquired from the above and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 6, 1991, lot 42)

Private Collection, New York (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 8, 1994, lot 30)

Jan Krugier Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Acquired from the above by the present owner 


(possibly) San Francisco, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, The San Francisco Collector, no. 21

New York, Acquavella Galleries, Yves Tanguy, 1974, no. 30, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Purchase, New York, Neuberger Museum, Selections from the Yaseen Family Collection, 1983-84, n.n.

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts & Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Exiles + emigrés, The Flight of European Artists from Hitler, 1997-98, no. 135, illustrated in color in the catalogue


Pierre Matisse & Kay Sage, Yves Tanguy, A Summary of his Works, New York, 1963, no. 306, illustrated p. 141

Patrick Waldberg, Yves Tanguy, Brussels, 1977, illustrated p. 260

Catalogue Note

Le Prodigue ne revient jamais III, painted in 1943, is an extraordinary example of Tanguy’s unique Surrealist style. Pierre Matisse, the artist's dealer in New York, commented in 1942: “Until Tanguy, the object, whatever external shocks it had undergone, remained in the last analysis a distinct prisoner of its own identity. With Tanguy we enter for the first time a world of total latency...” (P. Matisse, Exhibition of Paintings by Yves Tanguy (exhibition catalogue), Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York, 1942, p. 16). The objects which inhabit the ambiguous space of Le Prodigue ne revient jamais III seem reliant upon objective reality and yet far removed from any specific reference. Key sources of Tanguy's imagery were the summers he spent near Finistère in Brittany as a child. It was during these stays that Tanguy had observed prehistoric rock formations and objects floating on water or washed up on the shore, elements that, subjectively transformed, frequently appear in the dream world Tanguy celebrated as a painter throughout his career.

Discussing the artist’s creative process, James Thrall Soby writes: “Tanguy was an artist who never tormented his inspiration. A slow, meticulous craftsman, working in an impeccable studio, he painted only when the spirit moved him – that steadfast, rare, creative spirit which remains a heartening phenomenon in the art of our time.… Once he had found his direction – and he found it with startling abruptness – he followed it with devotion and purity” (J. T. Soby in Yves Tanguy (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1955, p. 9). However, that is not to say that Tanguy did not seek to develop his style. The curious sense of space and atmosphere he imbued in his work was by the 1940s being tested. Previously, his compositions tended to be arranged with all the forms in proportion with each other and the overall size of the canvas. Exquisite forms would appear delicate but distanced. In Le Prodigue ne revient jamais III, the elements in the foreground are substantially larger than in past works, giving the composition a more intimate feeling.

The present work is part of a group of four paintings that share the same title and were executed on the same size canvas. As is usual in Tanguy’s oeuvre, the titles’ allusion to the biblical story of the prodigal son is obscure and highly enigmatic, though the sentiment of an unrepentant child is perhaps Tanguy’s acknowledgement of the contrary nature of his art – convincingly rendered forms, which are nonetheless entirely abstract. The first owner of the present work, Hugh Chisholm Jr. of Hillsboro in California, also owned the other three canvases, and the works remained together until they were sold from the collection of Mr. & Mrs. Leonard Yaseen in 1994.