Lot 108
  • 108

ALEXEJ VON JAWLENSKY | Abstrakter Kopf (Poesie des Morgens) (Abstract Head (Poetry of the Morning))

280,000 - 450,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexej von Jawlensky
  • Abstrakter Kopf (Poesie des Morgens) (Abstract Head (Poetry of the Morning))
  • signed with the artist’s initials A.J. (lower left) and dated 31 (lower right); signed A. Jawlensky, dated 1931 and numbered Nr. 71 on the reverse
  • oil on linen-finished paper laid down on board
  • 43 by 33cm., 17 by 13in.
  • Painted in 1931.


Dr. Marga Stegmann, Dresden (acquired directly from the artist in November 1934)
Dr. Hans Meyer-Benteli, Bern (by descent from the above in 1936; sale: Kunstkabinett R.N. Ketterer, Stuttgart, 30th November-1st December 1955, lot 1269)
Karl Ströher, Darmstadt (purchased at the above sale)
Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher, Switzerland (by descent from the above in 1977)
Thence by descent to the present owner in 2016


Darmstadt, Hessisches Landesmuseum, Sammlung Karl Ströher, 2, 1965, no. 49, illustrated in the catalogue


The artist's Cahier Noir, listed as 1931 N. 71, p. 18
Erika Pohl, Ursula Ströher & Gerhard Pohl (ed.), Karl Ströher, Sammler und Sammlung, Stuttgart, 1982, no. 250, illustrated p. 286
Maria Jawlensky, Lucia Pieroni-Jawlensky & Angelica Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1914-1933, London, 1993, vol. II, no. 1371, illustrated p. 463

Catalogue Note

Jawlensky’s mature work was dominated by several series of paintings on the theme of the human face, throughout which his treatment of the features becomes increasingly stylised and abstracted. The present work belongs to the series of Abstract Heads, characterised by a grid of predominantly horizontal and vertical lines and brightly painted blocks of pigment. The typically long, U-shaped face with a strong symmetrical structure was first conceived in 1918, and Jawlensky worked on this series until 1935. During this time, Jawlensky was strongly interested in Indian philosophy and the life of Indian yogis. This influence is evident in the present work in the the meditative eyes and the overall reduction of the composition to the purest pictorial elements of colour and line. Gradually abandoning the signs of individuality and character, and focusing on the formal elements in his painting, in his mature work, such as Abstrakter Kopf (Poesie des Morgens), Jawlensky arrived at a unique artistic vocabulary that conveys a sense of harmony and universal spirituality. In this present work, Jawlensky adroitly employs soft yet radiant hues and assertive lines to create a delicate composition and muted expression in the anonymous face. The artist's mastery of colour and line harken back to his roots as an instrumental expressionist in the Blaue Reiter movement. Another important influence on Jawlensky’s move toward abstraction was the multi-dimensional approach of the Cubists, whose fragmented and highly abstracted compositions he had seen in Paris. As Clemens Weiler writes: ‘Cubism, with which he became acquainted in 1910, supplied Jawlensky with the means of simplifying, condensing and stylizing the facial form even further, and this simplified and reduced shape he counterbalanced by means of even more intense and brilliant colouring. This enabled him to give these comparatively small heads a monumentality and expressive power that were quite independent of their actual size’ (Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky Heads, Faces, Meditations, London, 1971, p. 14).