49
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WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JOE R. & TERESA L. LONG

Fernand Léger
NATURE MORTE AUX FRUITS SUR FOND BLEU
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,410,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
49

WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF JOE R. & TERESA L. LONG

Fernand Léger
NATURE MORTE AUX FRUITS SUR FOND BLEU
Estimate
Irrevocable Bids
Lots with this symbol indicate that a party has provided Sotheby’s with an irrevocable bid on the lot that will be executed during the sale at a value that ensures that the lot will sell. The irrevocable bidder, who may bid in excess of the irrevocable bid, will be compensated based on the final hammer price in the event he or she is not the successful bidder or may receive a fixed fee in the event he or she is the successful bidder. If the irrevocable bidder is the successful bidder, the fixed fee (if applicable) for providing the irrevocable bid may be netted against the irrevocable bidder’s obligation to pay the full purchase price for the lot and the purchase price reported for the lot shall be net of such fixed fee. If the irrevocable bid is not secured until after the printing of the auction catalogue, a pre-lot announcement will be made indicating that there is an irrevocable bid on the lot. If the irrevocable bidder is advising anyone with respect to the lot, Sotheby’s requires the irrevocable bidder to disclose his or her financial interest in the lot. If an agent is advising you or bidding on your behalf with respect to a lot identified as being subject to an irrevocable bid, you should request that the agent disclose whether or not he or she has a financial interest in the lot.
Guaranteed Property
Guaranteed Property. The seller of lots with this symbol has been guaranteed a minimum price from one auction or a series of auctions. If every lot in a catalogue is guaranteed, the Conditions of Sale will so state and this symbol will not be used for each lot.
1,800,0002,500,000
LOT SOLD. 1,410,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York

Fernand Léger
1881 - 1955
NATURE MORTE AUX FRUITS SUR FOND BLEU
Signed F. Leger and dated 39 (lower right); signed F. Leger, dated 1939 and titled (on the reverse) 
Oil on canvas
51 by 35 in.
130 by 88.9 cm
Painted in 1939.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Estate of the artist, France

Nadia Léger, Paris (by descent from the above and until at least 1957)

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (acquired by 1964)

Galerie Beyeler, Basel (acquired from the above on January 18, 1969)

Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above on May 7, 1998 and sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 6, 2004, lot 150)

Private Collection, Switzerland (acquired at the above sale)

Galerie Fabien Boulakia, Paris

Acquired from the above on December 6, 2005

Exhibited

Paris, Galerie Mai, Fernand Léger, oeuvres récentes, 1940

Stockholm, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Retrospektiv Utställning Fernand Léger, 1948, no. 33

Copenhagen, Kunstforeningen, Fernand Léger, 1951, no. 20

Berlin, Hochschue für Bildende Künst, Berliner Festwochen, Werke französischer Meister der Gegenwart, 1952, no. 28

Paris, Musée des arts decoratifs & Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts, Fernand Léger, 1881-1955, 1956-57, no. 98 

Munich, Haus der Kunst, Fernand Léger 1881-1955, 1957, no. 83

Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Fernand Léger 1881-1955, 1957, no. 27

Zurich, Kunsthaus, Fernand Léger, 1957, no. 97 

Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Fernand Léger, 1881-1855, 1964, no. 65

Marseille, Musée CantiniFernand Léger, 1966, no. 61

Tel-Aviv, Museum of Tel-Aviv, Fernand Léger, 1881-1955, 1967, no. 21

Basel, Galerie Beyeler & London, The Waddington Galleries, Fernand Léger, 1969-70, no. 38

Milan, Galleria Il Milione, Fernand Léger: Olii, guazzi, lavis, disegni, 1969-70, no. 10

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, The Silent Dialogue: The Still Life in the 20th Century, 1978-79, no. 59

Berlin, Staatliche Kunsthalle, Fernand Léger, 1881-1955, 1980-81, no. 93, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Biôt, Musée national Fernand Léger & Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Hommage à Fernand Léger 1881-1955. Exposition du centenaire, 1981-1982, nos. 76 & 33

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Fernand Léger, 1881-1981, 1981-82, no. 33

Madrid, Fundación Juan March, Fernand Léger, 1983, no. 24

Dusseldorf, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, "... und nich die leiseste Spur einer Vorschrift..." Positionene unabhängiger Kunst in Europa um 1937, 1987-88, no. 60

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Magic Blue, 1993-94, no. 47

Basel, Galerie Beyeler, Fernand Léger: Werke 1925-55, 1994-95, no. 19, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Literature

Jean Painlevé, "A propos d'un 'nouveau réalisme' chez Fernand Léger" in Cahiers d'Art, Paris, 1940, illustrated p. 73

Maurice Jardot, Léger, Paris, 1956, illustrated pl. 13

René Jullian, Fernand Léger, Basel, 1969, illustrated no. 47

Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, ed., Hommage à Fernand Léger, Paris, 1971, illustrated in color n.p.

Georges Bauquier, Fernand Léger, Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, 1938-1943, vol. VI, Paris, 1998, illustrated in color p. 133

Carolyn Lanchner, Fernand Léger (exhibition catalogue), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998, illustrated p. 145

Catalogue Note

The aesthetic that Léger adopted in the late 1930s came about as a response to the political atmosphere in Europe at the time. His commitment to abstraction reflected his political ideals, as he believed that Cubism endowed the object with the social value and promoted the idea of a universal language. As he proclaimed, “Painting takes on a social character in basing itself on the object. Painting becomes accessible to everyone and can be used in schools, in stadiums, in public monuments, etc.” (quoted in C. Lanchner, op. cit., p. 139).

During this period, Léger painted a number of compositions using images of the natural world, such as butterflies, flowers and underwater plants. In Nature morte aux fruits sur fond bleu, images of fruits and branches are entangled with overlapping abstract forms, all painted in strong, unmodulated color and silhouetted against the flat background. Rather than depicting a narrative or imitating nature, Léger was concerned with the primacy of painting and explored the very language of painting in its fullest and purest form, namely the elements of color and form. Léger explained: “We must master the subject in painting. The painting must emerge, not the subject….Painting must not be neglected; painting first, then the subject” (quoted in ibid., p. 225). The vivid, undulating forms of Nature morte aux fruits sur fond bleu epitomize these very ideas: the work is aesthetically stimulating and inspires one to reflect on the bold colors, the varying plasticity of the objects and the compelling, rhythmic arrangement. The resulting composition, devoid of a clear narrative, defies a sense of gravity and transcends the formal structures of traditional still life painting.

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

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New York