Lot 106
  • 106


250,000 - 350,000 USD
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  • Sam Francis
  • Domrémy
  • signed with the artist’s initials; signed and dated 1958 on the reverse
  • watercolor and gouache on paper
  • 27 by 40 in. 68.6 by 101.6 cm.


Martha Jackson Gallery, New York
Collection of Dorothy Beskind, New York (acquired from the above in 1958)
Richard Feigen Gallery, New York
Collection of Jeffrey Wilkey, New York (acquired from the above in February 2011)
Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Acquired from the above by the present owner in February 2012


New York, Martha Jackson Gallery, Sam Francis: Paintings, November - December 1958


This work is in very good condition overall. There is very minor evidence of handling along the edges of the sheet, including a faint 6-inch diagonal crease along the upper left edge. The edges of the sheet are slightly deckled and have discolored slightly with age. There is a minor undulation to the sheet, inherent to the artist's working method. There are artist's pinholes in the corners. Under very close inspection, there is a pinpoint area of skinning visible along the top edge, just right of center. The colors are bright, fresh and clean. The sheet is hinged verso to the mat intermittently along the edges. Framed under Plexiglas.
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.

Catalogue Note

Sam Francis’ lyrical Domrémy is a mystical example of the artist's output at the height of his career. The gouache’s reds and maroon, ochres, and deep black are tinged with subtleties of blue that brings one deeper and deeper into the work. Executed in 1958, after the artist had completed two trips around the world that brought him from California to Paris, New York to Japan and back again, Domrémy is a mastery of color and place. Indeed, it was during Francis’ first trip to Paris in 1950 that the artist became fascinated with light and its effect on color after seeing Monet’s Water Lilies and Bonnard's outdoor scenes firsthand. In fact, Francis painted the present work shortly after moving into a bigger studio in Paris' Arcueil district on the rue du Domrémy where he also painted monumental works like the Basel Mural triptych, now in the collections of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. The present work combines this understanding of light and color with Francis' newfound appreciation for space and Eastern thought, bolstered from his time in Japan.  Layering nearly translucent areas of color with more thickly applied gouache, the color in Domrémy jumps from itself to the starkness of the untouched white sheet. The expanses of deliberate, vivid color are exacerbated by the vastness of the negative space on either side of the cascading color—areas that are highly intentional. While in Tokyo in 1957, Francis lived and worked in a temple, observing the lessons of traditional Japanese haboku, or flung-ink painting, as well as ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. Both studies are evident in Domrémy, where the gestural color freely falls down the vertical expanse of the work, into a world unknown. The notion of the void—central to East Asian culture—is expressed clearly here. Francis’ establishing a permanent studio in Japan stands as a further testament to the importance of Japanese traditions as a paramount influence on the artist. In fusing both Eastern and Western cultures in Francis' magnificent body of work, Peter Selz explains: "He reflects on the symbolism of white as the imperial color of magnificence and nobility, as the color of Great Jove, the albatross, and the veil of Christianity's deity, but he also notes that it is the color of evil, transcendent horror, and great panic, the shroud of death and the fog of ghosts" (Peter Seltz, Sam Francis, New York 1982, p. 62).

This work is identified with the interim identification number of SF58-264 in consideration for the forthcoming Sam Francis: Catalogue Raisonné of Unique Works on Paper. This information is subject to change as scholarship continues by the Sam Francis Foundation.