Details & Cataloguing

Modernités : de Rodin à Soulages


Leonor Fini
1908 - 1996
signed Leonor Fini (lower right); signed Leonor Fini, titled and dated 1967 (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
116 x 81 cm ; 45 5/8 x 31 7/8 in.
Painted in 1967.
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This work will be included in the forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by Richard Overstreet.


Galleria d'Arte Torbandena, Trieste
Sale: Sotheby's, London, June 20, 2007, lot 392
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner


Ferrara, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Leonor Fini, 1983, no. 14, illustrated in the catalogue p. 75


Constantin Jelenski, Leonor Fini, Lausanne, 1972, illustrated p. 141

Catalogue Note

From 1965 to 1967, Leonor Fini explored the theme of the encounter between two women in a train carriage. The genesis of this series can be found in a Victorian painting by Augustus Egg The Traveling Companions (1859) depicting two lady travelers facing each other in a train carriage, a painting which intrigued the artist: “one is like a pretty cow, very white and sleepy, whilst the other much more alert and lively, pulls the curtain. She doesn’t know what she will do next, kill the other or make love to her.”

A seemingly banal subject, this recurring theme of two travelling women in the same carriage became for Fini a source of tension and underlying eroticism and led to the painting of some of her most sensual and mesmerizing works. As Constantin Jelenski points out in his monograph on the artist, with Fini, the train carriage is like a theatre box. Leonor Fini explains her fascination for the theme as folllows: “What is more delimited than a train carriage where, beyond the immobile position, almost everything is forbidden. […] Train carriages are thus both nerve-wracking and protective. Places of passing complicity where we slumber in false sleep, where we let ourselves be overtaken by claustrophobic, ecstatic or criminal dreams.”

Il s’agit sans doute d’Azraêl (No doubt it is Azrael) is one of the last works of this emblematic series by Leonor Fini. A work of evanescent elegance, impregnated with mystery and melancholy, the narrowness of the train carriage here is a pretext for a dramatic scene, the carriage becomes the staging of a personal, deep and intimate theatre. The pallor of feminine complexion glows and is magnified by the subtle play of lace and veils which emphasize the sensuality of their bodies, haloing them in mystery and plunging the spectator into the dreamlike world of Leonor Fini.

Modernités : de Rodin à Soulages