Lot 155
  • 155

Fernand Léger

100,000 - 150,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Fernand Léger
  • Nature morte aux trois fruits
  • Gouache, watercolor and brush and ink on paper
  • 11 3/4 by 14 1/4 in.
  • 30.2 by 36.2cm


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
S.D. Collection, Paris
Sale: Palais d'Orsay, Paris, December 8, 1978, lot 56
Private Collection, Florida (and sold: Sotheby's, New York, November 7, 2012, lot 120)
Acquired at the above sale

Catalogue Note

The Purist aesthetic advocated by Le Corbusier and Ozenfant is clearly evident in Nature morte aux trois fruits. Mechanization inspired varied artistic responses in the early twentieth century, with the detached and disciplined aspects of machinery either lauded or feared. For the Purists, with whom Léger associated during the 1920s, restoring painting to a basic purity through a distillation of forms could be inspired by the aesthetics of industrial technology. The Purists almost exclusively depicted still lifes of domestic objects with clear delimitation adhering to a pared down visual vocabulary while creating a synthesis of lines and chromatic fields.

In the present work, Léger focuses on the pictorial elements of color and form, with the titular subjects delineated in strong, black lines and silhouetted against the verticality and density of the bottles in the background. Compositional elements are bound together in a flattened but spatially ambiguous plane, with objects and ground merging into a single, unified space. Léger would later employ this means of enmeshing objects with ground to guide the composition of his relief sculptures in bronze and painted ceramic.

According to Léger, it is the primary colors, combined with black and white, that best express the reality of the medium of painting. Rather than imitating nature, the artist was interested in exploring the language of painting in its fullest and most essential form. "Color is a human need like water and fire," he explained in 1946. "It is a raw material indispensable to life. In every period of his existence and history, man has associated it with his joys, his acts, and pleasures" (quoted in Edward F. Fry, ed., Fernand Léger, Functions of Painting, New York, 1973, p. 149).