Lot 48
  • 48

Paul Klee

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 GBP
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  • Paul Klee
  • Salon Tunisien (Verkehr auf dem Boulevart Tunis), Salon Tunisien (Traffic on the Boulevard Tunis)
  • signed Klee (upper right)
  • watercolour and ink on paper laid down on card
  • 22.5 by 28.5cm.
  • 8 7/8 by 11 1/4 in.


Heinrich Kirchoff, Wiesbaden (acquired by 1924)

Otto A.H. Henkell, Wiesbaden (acquired from the above by 1929)

Wilhelm H. & Franziska Schniewind (née Henkell), Neviges (son-in-law and daughter of the above; a gift from the above in 1929)

Thence by descent to the present owner in 1980


Munich, Neue Münchner Secession. 4 Ausstellung, 1918, no. 72

Basel, Kunsthalle & Zurich, Kunstsalon Wolfberg, Neuer Münchner Malerei und Graphik, 1918, no. 42 (in Basel); no. 40 (in Zurich)

Bern, Kunsthalle, Neuere Münchner Malerei und Graphik, 1919

Wiesbaden, Neues Museum Wiesbaden, Oktober-November Ausstellung 1924, 1924, no. 38

Recklinghausen, Städtische Kunsthalle, Künstler unseres Jahrhunderts. Das Vermächtnis europäischer Künstler um 1900, 1951, no. 60, illustrated in the catalogue

Wuppertal, Kunst-und Museumsverein Wuppertal, Paul Klee 1879-1940. Werke aus den Jahren 1904 bis 1940, 1956, no. 7a

London, Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., Paul Klee, 1966, no. 6, illustrated in the catalogue 

New York, The Museum of Modern Art; Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art & Bern, Kunstmuseum, Paul Klee, 1987-88, no. 75, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie, Das Universum Klee, 2008, illustrated in colour in the catalogue

Bern, Zentrum Paul Klee, Paul Klee, August Macke, Louis Moilliet: The Journey to Tunisia, 2014, no. 64, illustrated in colour in the catalogue


Otto Karl Werckmeister, Versuche über Paul Klee, Frankfurt, 1981, p. 65

Die Tunisreise. Klee, Macke, Moilliet (exhibition catalogue), Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunstgeschichte, Münster & Städtisches Kunstmuseum, Bonn, 1982, p. 64

Margareta Benz-Zauner, Werkanalytische Untersuchungen zu den Tunisien Aquarellen Paul Klees, Frankfurt, Bern & New York, 1984, p. 181

Otto Karl Werckmeister, The Making of Paul Klee’s Career 1914-1920, Chicago & London, 1989, p. 123

Reisen in den Süden. ‘Reisefieber praecisiert’ (exhibition catalogue), Gustav-Lübcke Museum, Hamm, 1997, mentioned p. 247

The Paul Klee Foundation (ed.), Paul Klee, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 2000, vol. 2, no. 1901, illustrated p. 452

Christoph Otterbeck, Europa verlassen. Künstlerreisen am Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, Cologne, 2007, illustrated p. 180

Orte der Sehnsucht. Mit Künstlern auf Reisen, LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, 2008-09, illustrated p. 56

Auf der Suche nach dem Orient. Paul Klee. Teppich der Erinnerung (exhibition catalogue), Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, 2009, illustrated p. 176

Daniel Kupper, Paul Klee, Reinbek bei Hamburg, 2011, illustrated in colour p. 44

Paul Klee, Extraits du journal. Extraits de théorie de l'art moderne, New York, 2013, illustrated in colour p. 113


Catalogue Note

Inspired by one of the most momentous journeys of the Klee’s life, Salon Tunisien was executed in 1918, a few years after he had travelled to Tunisia with his fellow artists August Macke and Louis Moilliet (fig. 3). The brilliant, exotic colour of Tunis, its bustling streets and dazzling light had a transformative effect on Klee and marked the beginning of a new direction in modern art. As Michael Baumgartner has written: ‘The brief two-week journey to Tunisia […] is enveloped by an aura of the foreign and exotic, the glow of light and colours, and the fascination of artistic inspiration and self-realization. This is especially true of Klee, whose artistic work in Tunisia is still regarded to this day as a turning point in his career and a breakthrough in terms of colour’ (M. Baumgartner, Paul Klee, August Macke, Louis Moilliet: The Journey to Tunisia (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 109). For several years after the trip, Klee continued to translate his memories into pictorial form, with works like Salon Tunisien vividly evoking his formative experiences.


Klee kept a journal throughout his trip, recording on 16th April: ‘I now abandon work. It penetrates so deeply and so gently into me, I feel it and it gives confidence in myself without effort. Colour possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. That is the meaning of this happy hour: Colour and I are one. I am a painter’ (quoted in ibid., p. 109). Working in watercolour, Klee set about experimenting with brighter, less naturalistic colour in his works, using washes of jewel-bright pigment loosely defined in geometric shapes. As his work progressed his vision clarified, with architectural motifs giving way to purely abstract compositions, resulting in works in pure colours entitled Oriental Experience and Urban Representation. In 1918, in light of the dramatic changes both in his studio and in the wider world, Klee returned to his pursuit of colour. With its brilliant palette of green, blues and red, lightly punctuated with indications in ink of people and things emblazoned with the works ‘Salon Tunisien’ and ‘Tunis’, the present work perfectly encapsulates Klee’s mastery of form and colour as well as his continuous fascination with the exotic.