Private collection, United States.
Property of a Collector
Lyonel Feininger visited Paris in 1892-1893, 1906-08, and 1911. During these stays, which were crucial for his artistic development, Feininger created a rich corpus of urban drawings. The pages of the artist's sketchbooks are populated by characters he glimpsed on the Grands Boulevards, the rickety houses of Montmartre, and the Rive Gauche. These works combine technical bravura with a remarkable degree of visual attentiveness.
In a letter of 1893, Feininger wrote, "I spend two or three hours daily in making notes of all sorts of passers-by from our windows. And out of doors I do the same; also in restaurants, etc. It is of the greatest value to me to seize instantly the character of an object whether animate or otherwise." These were not the typical motifs of Paris, but rather the intimate reality of the bustling and transient metropolis at the turn of the twentieth century. Feininger's drawings of his second and third Parisian visits, from which period the present works date, especially reveal his fascination with everyday life.
These drawings present an image of Paris on the cusp of Modernism. In a sense, they provide a bridge between the world of Impressionism and that of the Bauhaus, which Feininger was to join in 1919. Though Feininger is a flanêur in the tradition of Baudelaire, he anticipates, both in subject and style, the visual vocabulary and taste that was shortly to dominate the art world of subsequent decades.