• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7551

    Valuable Russian Books and Manuscripts

    27 November 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 111

    EXTER, Alexandra (1882-1949). Original maquette for Maquettes de théatre, Paris, 1930.

    Price Realised  


    EXTER, Alexandra (1882-1949). Original maquette for Maquettes de théatre, Paris, 1930.

    Folio (515 x 335mm). Title and five leaves of letter press text, two of these with manuscript corrections in red crayon. 15 gouache and pochoir designs on arches paper, some with substantial hand finishing, and some with graphite guide-lines. (Text leaves with folding creases and some wear.) Loose in a portfolio with original calligraphy by Guido Colucci in black and blue ink with graphite guides (light wear and light soiling).

    AN ORIGINAL MAQUETTE FOR EXTER'S SUPERB GOUACHE AND POCHOIR THEATRE DESIGNS, some of these with substantial hand-finishing, and the text showing significant differences from the published edition. Exter's designs were very warmly received when she showed them at the Quatre Chemins Gallery: 'Alexandra Exter's exhibition demonstrates her very great talent', wrote André Boll in a contemporary review; 'her conceptions reflect that thirst for originality which presides over the renewal of stage design in the USSR' (quoted in Chauvelin, p.305). Many of her remarkable designs consider the role and essence of Light and create what Chauvelin terms 'Light Sculptures' -- ethereal constructions which at once define and elude space; objects on the edge of Materiality, 'almost mythical objects, at least as close to Suprematism than to Constructivism, which had been their starting point. Exter had thus solved the fundamental contradiction of the Russian avant-garde' (Chauvelin, p.307).

    The portfolio's front cover is entirely decorated with original calligraphy by Guido Colluci, varying from the printed version which employs a more compressed, angular style that disposes of serifs and other flourishes. The title, Décors de théatre, is changed here in manuscript to Maquettes de théatre, which eventually became the work's title. Likewise, the wording and typesetting of the colophon in this preparatory version shows some variance from the published version, and a further manuscript correction alters the design of the last leaf of text. The published edition is rare: WorldCat locates no copy in British institutions, and just one in America, at the New York Public Library. ABPC records no copy selling at auction in over 30 years. Chauvelin et al., Alexandra Exter, Chevilly-Larue, 2003, pp. 304-327.

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Special Notice

    Buyers from within the EU: VAT payable at 17.5% on just the buyer's premium (NOT the hammer price) Buyers from outside the EU: VAT payable at 17.5% on hammer price and buyer's premium. If a buyer, having registered under a non-EU address, decides that an item is not to be exported from the EU, then he/she should advise Christie's to this effect immediately.