Lot 41
  • 41

Lyonel Feininger

6,000,000 - 8,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Lyonel Feininger
  • Fin de séance
  • Signed Feininger and dated 10 (upper left); signed Lyonel Feininger and inscribed Zehlendorf = Berlin (on the stretcher); signed Lyonel Feininger, inscribed Zehlendorf-Berlin (Allemagne) Koenigstrase 32 and titled "Fin de Séance" (on a label on the stretcher) 
  • Oil on canvas
  • 37 3/8 by 33 3/4 in.
  • 94.9 by 85.7 cm


Lyonel & Julia Feininger (in safe keeping of Dr. Hermann Klumpp, Quedlinburg 1937-1972)

Julia Feininger (by descent from the above)

Acquavella Galleries, New York (on consignment from the Estate of the above)

Acquired from the above on May 24, 1985


Paris, Société des Artistes Indépendants, Salon des Indépendants, Quai d'Orsay, 27ème Exposition de la Société des Artistes Indépendants, 1911, no. 2183

Dresden, Galerie Emil Richter, Lyonel Feininger: Sonder-Ausstellung seiner Gemälde, Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Holzschnitte, 1919, no. 5 (titled Die Deputierten)

Hanover, Kestner-Gesellschaft, Paul Klee, Lyonel Feininger: Gemälde, Graphik. XXIX. Sonder-Ausstellung, 1919-20, no. 127 (titled Die Deputierten)

New York, Acquavella Galleries & Washington, D.C., The Phillips Collection, Exhibition Lyonel Feininger, 1985-86, no. 26, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, From Kandinsky to Dix: Paintings of the German Expressionists, 1989-90, n.n., illustrated in color in the catalogue

Lugano, Museo Cantonale d'Arte, Lyonel Feininger, La variante tematica e tecnica nello sviluppo del processo creativo, 1991, no. IV.1, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, 1996, n.n, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie & Munich, Haus Der Kunst, Lyonel Feininger: von Gelmeroda nach Manhattan: Retrospektive der Gemälde, 1998-99, no. 8, illustrated in color in the catalogue 

Roslyn, New York, Nassau County Museum of Art, Twentieth Century Exiles: Artists Fleeing Hitler's Oppression, 2002, n.n.


Hans Hess, Lyonel Feininger, New York, 1961, no. 51, illustrated p. 252

Dorothee Eimert, Der Einfluss des Futurismus auf die deutsche Malerei, Cologne, 1974, p. 204 

“Lyonel Feininger – Frühe Werke” in Du: Die Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur, no. 5, 1986, illustrated in color p. 32

T. Lux Feininger, “Mein Vater hat einen Fehler gemacht” in Du: Die Zeitschrift für Kunst und Kultur, no. 5, 1986, p. 62 

Expressionisten: Die Avantgarde in Deutschland 1905-1920. 125 Jahre Sammlungen der Nationalgalerie 1861-1986 (exhibition catalogue), Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Nationalgalerie und Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, 1986, illustrated p. 96 

Human Rights/Human Wrongs: Art and Social Change. Essays by Members of the Faculty of The University of Iowa (exhibition catalogue), The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, 1986, mentioned p. 82 

Ulrich Luckhardt, "Lyonel Feininger: Die Karikaturen und das zeichnerische Frühwerk. Der Weg der Selbstfindung zum unabhängigen Künstler, mit einem Exkurs zu den Karikaturen von Emil Nolde und George Grosz" in Beiträge zur Kunstwissenschaft, vol. 10. Munich, 1987, listed p. 143 

Lyonel Feininger. The Early Years 1889-1919: Watercolours and Drawings (exhibition catalogue), Marlborough Fine Art, London, 1987, mentioned p. 14 

Ulrich Luckhardt, Lyonel Feininger, Munich, 1989, no. 5, discussed p. 29 & illustrated in color p. 59

Lyonel Feininger. Städte und Küsten: Aquarelle, Zeichnungen, Druckgrafik (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthalle Nürnberg, Nuremburg, 1992, discussed p. 20 & illustrated p. 21

Florens Deuchler, Lyonel Feininger. Sein Weg zum Bauhaus-Meister, Leipzig, 1996, pp. 158 & 231 

Martin Faass, Lyonel Feininger und der Kubismus, Frankfurt am Main, 1999, illustrated pp. 36 & 49 

Lyonel Feininger: Frühe Werke und Freunde (exhibition catalogue), Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal, 2006, mentioned p. 114

Petra Werner, Der Fall Feininger, Leipzig, 2006, no. 26, pp. 26, 83, 138, 216, 224 & 236 

IFAR Journal, vol. 10, no. 3/4, 2008/09, listed p. 57 & illustrated in color on the inside back cover 

Feininger und das Bauhaus: Weimar—Dessau—New York (exhibition catalogue), Kunsthaus Apolda Avantgarde, Apolda, Germany, 2009, cited p. 29 

Barbara Haskell, Lyonel Feininger, At the Edge of the World (exhibition catalogue), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York & The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, 2011-12, illustrated in color p. 27 & discussed p. 29

Catalogue Note

Feininger made his debut into the world of avant-garde painting in Paris with the spectacular Fin de séance. The artist chose to include this impressive canvas in the annual Salon des Indépendants in the spring of 1911, where it would be hung alongside works by Matisse, Delaunay and Kandinsky. The occasion was also the premiere of the revolutionary Cubist compositions of Picasso and Braque, and their work would have a profound impact on Feininger's later pictures. The present work, which was a clear indicator of the direction that Feininger's painting would take over the next decade, already reflects many of Cubism's aesthetic principles, including the concept of "constructing" a composition piece by piece. At the exhibition, Feininger’s pictures received significant attention from several critics and artists, including Henri Matisse. According to one account, Matisse came in "to hang a picture of his own in the space alongside. For a long time he stood staring at Feininger's canvas. Then he turned around and took his picture out with him. Haled by his astonished coterie, he explained that he would have to work over his painting before he would let it stand comparison with Feininger's. And he did" (C. Teller quoted in U. Luckhardt, op. cit., Munich, 1989, p. 29).

Fin de séance is one of Feininger’s rare and remarkable early works that combines the linear aesthetic of graphic art with the fluidity of oil paint. Having spent the first fifteen years of his career as a successful illustrator for periodicals in Berlin and Paris, Feininger only turned his attention to painting in 1907 at the age of 36, adapting one of his published cartoons into a composition in oil. With this new medium, he was able to take greater compositional risks, creating striking tonal contrasts and using daring color combinations in a similar manner to the Fauves. But Feininger would never completely abandon his allegiance to draftsmanship and increasingly emphasized its importance in his oil compositions over the next few years. Writing to his wife Julia in 1908 about his new series of paintings underway at his Berlin-Zehlendorf studio, he explained that he had become more adept as a painter, incorporating more readily the "impressionistic" modes of execution that he had learned while working as a young illustrator in France: "My approach has become looser and is closer to my way of drawing again… for in the past three-and-a-half months here I have been through various stages, and now come back to my Paris style… It must be right for me to be returning to the way I naturally draw and perceive, for it gives me so much confidence. This time I am using color more energetically, and I have a number of pictures in the pipeline, dear God, they only need to be painted" (quoted in ibid., p. 52). Over the course of the next decade, the artist completed several figural compositions in oil that are now considered some of the finest works of his career. As the focus of his paintings gradually shifted toward architecture, nothing that he would produce in later decades would come close to the whimsical spirit of these early pictures.

When Feininger began to paint in oil he first attempted to do so from nature, as had been his practice with his drawings. He soon found that this method proved unsatisfactory and would instead use quick drawings and sketches from nature to build fully-worked oil compositions in his Berlin studio. In 1908 he executed Men Rushing from the Stock Exchange, Paris which would serve as the basis for the present work, although he would alter the title to provide a more ambiguous subject matter. Decades later, in 1948, he created a work on paper much larger than that of 1908 bearing the same title as the oil. Here the French flags feature prominently while the figures rushing to and fro blur by in a seeming pulse of speed. Commenting on Fin de séance Ulrich Luckhardt states: “Two years after he made this drawing [Men Rushing from the Stock Exchange, Paris], Feininger took up the composition again for the painting Fin de séance. Now the scene is shown in more detail. What was summarily depicted in the hatched ares of the drawing is now developed to an interplay of colored planes and linear contours. The bright outlines form a colored play of lines that lift the figures out of the background and creates a new dynamic. Whereas the original title of the drawing gave an indication of what was happening, the action in the painting at ‘the end of the meeting’ is not clear. Are the men rushing home after a long workday; or do their wide, startled eyes suggest that they are running away from something that has happened?" (ibid., p. 58)

In his monograph about the artist, Hans Hess further explores Feininger's artistic process, "Feininger's use of color is as direct as that of the Fauve painters, but his choice of colors is subtle and strange. The color disharmonies are softer and the mood created more dreamlike. A mauvish pink predominates, countered by strong blues and greens. The colors live by the subtle violence of their disharmonies. In his pictures of this period the human figure plays a dominant part, but neither the figures nor the settings in which they move pretend to be real....The figures in silhouette reveal Feininger's preoccupation with the outline as the sum of all possible views of an object. The silhouette contains the body in all its movements.... The picture excludes emotional participation; it is a painting of movement and place. It is a comic scene, but essentially a study in space and speed" (H. Hess, op. cit., pp. 47-48).

When Feininger moved to the United States in 1937 on the eve of the war, Fin de séance was one of about fifty works from his early oeuvre that he left in the care of an associate in Quedlinburg, Germany. Although the artist made several futile attempts during his lifetime to have these works shipped from East Germany to his new residence in New York, it was not until 1984, nearly thirty years after his death, that the pictures were finally returned to Feininger’s heirs in the United States. In honor of their recovery, these works were featured in an important exhibition at Acquavella Galleries in New York and The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., in which the present work was included.

Additional information for this entry was provided by The Lyonel Feininger Project, New York – ­Berlin.