Lot 8
  • 8

Emil Filla

280,000 - 350,000 GBP
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  • Emil Filla
  • Seated Woman
  • signed and dated Emil Filla 48 lower right
  • oil on canvas
  • 146 by 98cm., 57½ by 38½in.


Galerie Pallas, Prague
Purchased from the above by the present owner in 1993


The canvas is unlined and is securely attached to what appears to be the artist's original keyed wooden stretcher. This is ensuring an even and stable structural support. There are two faint horizontal stretcher-bar lines corresponding to the upper and central stretcher bars. There are some small scattered spots of paint flaking. Notably, there is one spot in the rose in the centre right of the composition and one in the purple impasto just above it, both of which might benefit from some consolidation. Ultra-violet light reveals no particular sign of retouching. This work is in good original condition and ready to hang. Presented in a decorative gilt frame.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Painted in 1948, Seated Woman is a stunning example of Filla's mature period, combining influences from Picasso's work with a French Impressionist technique and a rich Expressionist palette. Filla first saw the work of the Impressionists in Prague in 1902. The Expressionist influence was the result of viewing the work of Edward Munch in exhibitions in Prague in 1904 and 1905. Munch's work held a particular fascination for Filla and his contemporaries in their formative years. Between 1911 and 1920 Filla regularly spent time in Paris gaining exposure to the most radical and influential art movements of the time, most importantly Cubism as pioneered by Picasso and Braque, who became close friends. Together they set out to formulate and promote Cubism. It was through Filla that Picasso had his first one man show in Prague. Back in his homeland, Filla became a leader of the avant-garde, and Czechoslovakia the alternative centre for Cubism outside of Paris. 

Filla’s love of Cubism was enduring and while his style evolved, cubist elements are evident in his paintings throughout his career. Seated Woman portrays an exceptionally self-confident sitter, looking straight at the viewer. She dominates the composition in a strikingly relaxed pose, leaving only little room for a chair in the background. The painting is characterised by rich colours, strong expressionistic outlines and shadows, which are more dynamic and flowing than many works from the early days of Cubism.

Comparing Filla’s Seated Woman with Picasso’s Dora Maar au chat (fig. 1), both painted in the 1940s, the similarities are striking. Both women command the picture plane, Dora sitting in a wooden chair and Filla’s inconnue posing in front of one. Their bodies are sharply outlined and modelled in shades of green, grey and blue. Dora wears an elaborate, chic outfit that highlights the cubist treatment of the figure, as well as a decorated hat. She is accompanied by a little black cat, the face of which has been scratched out from the wet paint. Filla’s model wears nothing but red lipstick and carefully applied nail varnish. She may not be alone either, as a red rose on top of the chair behind her seems to suggest a visitor.

A photograph of the present work by František Krejčí is recorded in the Filla archive.