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70

Leonid Berman

Diabolo Players

Leonid Berman

Leonid Berman

Diabolo Players

Diabolo Players

Leonid Berman

1896 - 1976

Diabolo Players


signed with initial L. and dated 53 (lower left); inscribed "2 DIAVOLO PLAYERS", signed Leonid, dated 53 and inscribed 8 x 15 inches (on the reverse)

oil on canvas

Painted in 1953.

38 x 21 cm; 15 x 8¼ in.

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Leonid Berman

1896 - 1976

Diabolo Players


signé de l'initiale L. et daté 53 (en bas à gauche); inscrit "2 DIAVOLO PLAYERS", signé Leonid, daté 53 et inscrit 8 x 15 inches (au dos)

huile sur toile

Peint en 1953.

38 x 21 cm; 15 x 8¼ in.

This work has been examined framed. The canvas is not lined. Examination under UV light reveals dots and lines of retouching throughout the composition. There are two stretcher bar marks running vertically across the composition. There are some surface scuffs associated with retouching visible under UV light in places, notably towards the lower right corner and to the centre part of the sky. There is some minor frame rubbing along the extreme edges. Surface is a bit dirty. This work is in overall fairly good condition and could benefit from a light clean.


"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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."

Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, December 16, 2015, lot 32

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Vente: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 16 décembre 2015, lot 32

Fleeing the Russian revolution, Leonid Berman arrived in Paris shortly after his brother Eugène. Alongside Eugène he joined the Neo-Romantic movement which included Tchelitchew, Bérard and others. Unlike them, he specialized in a landscape genre inhabited with small figures. While his brother's artworks were influenced by Surrealism and depicted fantastical scenes, Leonid's compositions were more melancholic. Imprisoned in France during World War II, he left in 1946 following his brother once again; this time to the United States. 


In the present work, two timeless figures play Diabolo, a type of juggling game originating from China, popularized in Europe in the 19th century, and which came back into fashion in the 1950s. Players must catch two joined inverted cone shapes on a string stretched between the tips of two sticks as is visible in the upper part of the composition. 

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Fuyant la révolution russe, Leonid Berman arriva à Paris peu après son frère Eugène et comme lui s'y joignit au mouvement des néo-romantiques avec Tchelitchew, Bérard et d’autres. Mais contrairement à ceux-ci, il se spécialisa dans le paysage, parfait avec quelques figures vaquant à leurs occupations. La mélancolie domine ses compositions contrairement à son frère qui, lui, fut plus influencé par le surréalisme, construisant des paysages fantastiques. Prisonnier en France pendant la durée de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, il est parti rejoindre son frère aux Etats-Unis en 1946.


Ces deux figures intemporelles jouent au Diabolo, un jeu inventé au XIXe siècle mais revenu à la mode dans les années 1950, proche de la jonglerie. Les joueurs doivent rattraper deux calottes liées, visibles au dessus de la composition, au moyen d’un fil retenu par deux baguettes.