It draws inspiration from Van Gogh, Matisse and Van Dongen. Completed at the height of Jawlensky’s involvement with Der Blaue Reiter group which aimed to refine a new artistic style based on bold colour, line-work and rhythm. For Jawlensky, art became the expression of pure emotion. As he explains in his memoir: ‘I started trying to express through painting what I felt nature prompting me to say. By means of hard work and tremendous concentration I gradually found the right colours and forms to express what my spiritual-self demanded’. (quoted in Alexej Jawlensky. Heads, Faces, Meditations, London/New York, 1971; reprinted in Alexej von Jawlensky: Catalogue raisoneé of the Oil Paintings, vol. I 1890-1914, London, 1991, in translation by Edith Künster and J.A Underwood, as ‘Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, Wiesbaden, 1937’, pp. 25-33), and is testament to Jawlensky’s pioneering position in the Expressionist movement.
The present work is titled and dated on the reverse by Galka Scheyer, a painter, dealer and collector who was instrumental in the foundation of Die Blauen Vier in 1924 (the group which included Wassily Kandinsky, Lyonel Feininger and Paul Klee as well as Jawlensky). In 1920, Scheyer organised an exhibition of Jawlensky's works, which was to travel Germany for three years until 1923. It is likely that the present work was titled by Scheyer on this occasion. Scheyer keenly promoted the work of Die Blauen Vier in the United States, encouraging greater recognition for these artists outside Europe.
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