Lot 3
  • 3

Joan Miró

700,000 - 1,000,000 USD
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  • Joan Miró
  • Personnage
  • Signed Miró (upper right); signed Joan Miró, titled "Personnage" and dated 10/8/35 (on the verso)
  • Gouache, watercolor and brush and ink on paper
  • 14 5/8 by 12 in.
  • 37.1 by 30.5 cm


Pierre Matisse Gallery, New York

Arthur B. Carles, Philadelphia

Private Collection (sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 16, 1962, lot 51)

Reiss-Cohen Gallery Inc., New York (acquired at the above sale)

Anita Friedman, New York

Sunne Savage Gallery, Winchester, Massachusetts 

Edelman Arts, New York

Acquired from the above on January 1, 2005


The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Miró in America, 1982, n.n.


Clement Greenberg, Joan Miró, New York, 1948, illustrated p. 21

Jacques Dupin & Ariane Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné, Drawings, Volume I: 1901-1937, Paris, 2008, no. 503, illustrated in color p. 243

Catalogue Note

Working in Barcelona on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, Miró executed a series of works representing a world inhabited by ominous and primitive forces. In his works from this period, Miró drew upon a lexicon of hybrid creatures, composed in equal parts of whimsy and menace, that gave voice to the emotional battle endured by the Spanish people in the months leading up to the war. “From the very beginning of 1935, no matter what Miró set out to do, his brush conjured nothing but monsters,” Dupin wrote. “Moreover, these monsters fill up the whole of his canvases. He met them in the year of the farm, in the familiar features of a face, in the lines of a woman’s body, in the forms of the Mont-roig rocks, and in the loops and swirls of his spontaneous graphism. The monstrous was everywhere he looked; it occupied his whole field of vision and sensation. It was a prophetic warning of a universal cataclysm, and it was also a sort of exorcism of the monstrous on the artist’s part... The marvelous becomes fantastic terror, the dream a clairvoyant nightmare, lyricism a barbaric hymn” (J. Dupin, Miró, Paris, 2012, p. 189).

Yet the artist’s artistic response was not merely a direct reflection of the evils around him. Rather, he often intended his monstrous figures to be expressions of organic growth and life change. As Dupin explains: “The gouaches done in the summer of 1935…. Have shown us how Miró was sometimes surprised and overwhelmed by the images of terror that pursued him. We saw, too, how sometimes he succeeded, by force of will, or trickery, to drive them away or otherwise get free of them. He had not yet accepted their intrusion as an irresistible fatality, still less as a possible means of salvation… In these paintings all things are moving, flowing, growing, and growing to monstrous excess: this is why every single element draws us into the metamorphosis and makes us not just see it but also perceive it organically” (ibid., pp. 199-202). The present work was illustrated in Clement Greenberg's seminal 1948 monograph on Miró's life and work. In the decades to come Miró would become highly influential to the Abstract Expressionist artists in American, whom Greenberg championed throughout his career.