Lot 4
  • 4

PETER DOIG | Study for 'Girl in White With Trees'

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Peter Doig
  • Study for 'Girl in White With Trees'
  • signed, titled and dated London-Port of Spain 2001-2002 on the reverse
  • oil on paper
  • 137.8 by 101.9 cm. 54 1/4 by 40 1/8 in.


Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York Acquired from the above by David Teiger in 2003


Dallas, The Dallas Museum of Art; Vero Beach, The Gallery at Windsor; Toronto, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Peter Doig: Works on Paper, September 2005 - June 2006, p. 117, illustrated in colour


Exh. Cat., London, Victoria Miro, 100 Years Ago. Peter Doig, April - May 2002, p. 22, illustrated in colour (in progress in the artist’s studio) Exh. Cat., Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery; Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Peter Doig, No Foreign Lands, August 2013 - June 2014, p. 124, illustrated in colour


Colour: The colour in the catalogue illustration is fairly accurate although the overall tonality is slightly lighter in the original. Condition: Please refer to the department for a professional condition report.
"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

Created as a final preparatory study for one of Peter Doig’s most celebrated paintings, Girl in White With Trees from 2001-2002 (Bonnefantenmuseum, Maastricht), the present work typifies the artist’s unsettling compositional instinct. Derived from a family snapshot taken from the artist’s window in London, the present work depicts Doig’s daughter perched on a tree branch, gazing at the viewer. Her figure is both the dramatic pivot of the painting and its anchor to reality, surrounded as she is by an otherworldly sylvan morass. The serpentine branches that emanate from all sides of the composition emphasise her isolation within the picture plane, and recall the gestural action painting of Jackson Pollock. The most chromatically alluring work in a series of similar studies, Study for 'Girl in White with Trees' showcases Doig’s preeminent ability to blend abstract influences with a decidedly figurative style to create uniquely hypnagogic masterpieces. Fascinated by the slippages and mediations of memory, Doig was heavily influenced by the Post-Impressionist painter Pierre Bonnard, who famously worked from memory alone. Doig describes what Bonnard crystallises in his painting as “the space that is behind the eyes. It’s as if you were lying in bed trying hard to remember what something looked like. And Bonnard managed to paint that strange state. It is not a photographic space at all. It is a memory space, but one which is based on reality” (Peter Doig in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, in: Adrian Searle, Ed., Peter Doig, London 2007, p. 142). Like a Lynchian dream sequence or Werner Herzog panoramic, many of Doig’s figurations provide fertile ground for the chimerical intrigue that weaves its way into our unconscious. The girl in the painting is unidentified in its title, and thus becomes a figure onto which the viewer can project their interpretation of the work. Is she frightened and isolated, sinister and ghostlike, unreachable and unapologetically adolescent? Certainly all of these elements are present in Doig’s work – for instance in Canoe Lake (1997), Pelican (2004), and Jetty (1994) respectively – and it is his specific genius that he can conjure all three emotions without committing to any one in particular.

The tension generated between the representational subject matter of the figure and the abstract style that characterises the branches that surround her is a central tenet of Doig’s oeuvre. There is a clear cinematic aspect to the work; however, when viewed from a wider formalist perspective, it appears far more compositionally concerned with abstract concepts of chromatic contrast. Excluding the chaste delineations of the central figure, the sheet is covered by passages of colour that appear more experimental than representational. Exemplifying a quality that Doig has sought to perfect throughout his career, that “painting should evolve itself into a type of abstraction, to slowly dissipate into something else”, Study for 'Girl in White with Trees' is a superb example of Doig’s oeuvre (Peter Doig quoted in: ‘Peter Doig & Chris Ofili: Artists in Conversation’, BOMB, Fall 2007, online resource). A virtuosic and mysterious dreamscape, it distorts a familial memory, blending art historical reference with a keen compositional instinct to create a work that is as beguiling as it is beautiful.