• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2773

    Twentieth Century Art

    4 December 2007, Amsterdam

  • Lot 57

    Lyonel Feininger (AMERICAN, 1871-1958)

    Fischerboot - Fishing boat

    Price Realised  


    Lyonel Feininger (AMERICAN, 1871-1958)
    Fischerboot - Fishing boat
    signed 'Feininger' (lower left), and dated '24 Sept. 1922' (lower right), and inscribed with title (lower centre)
    watercolour and ink on paper
    31 x 40 cm.

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    Achim Moeller has kindly confirmed the authenticity of the present lot.

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    Pre-Lot Text


    In 1964, legendary CoBrA artists Anton Rooskens and Eugene Brands queued along with sculptor Hildo Krop, designer Kho Liang Le and hundreds of other (international) guests to get into the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, the occasion being the farewell party of its' director. A crowd of reporters - from NRC to Telegraaf to Wieringer Weekblad - witnessed a flamboyant man with a big, friendly voice being awarded the city's medal of honour and accepting an especially commissioned Karel Appel.

    The director Otto Meyer - who should have been a household name for anyone familiar with the 20th century art scene in Central Europe. But sometimes, history does not fully credit its' creators. Therefore it is a great privilege for Christie's to present to the public: Otto Meyer, dealer, teacher, curator and collector.

    Born in Osnabrück, Otto Meyer took over his father Adolfs' arts & antiques business in the same city in 1924. The company expanded rapidly into the field of modern art, often shocking the provicial town exhibiting radical German expressionists Nolde, Meidner, Kokoschka, Klee, Feininger, Nussbaum, Pechstein and Kirchner. Raising controversy, however, was never the aim. Dr. Eva Berger, of the Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Osnabrück: Otto Meyer war in Osnabrück ein geschätzter Mitburger und vor allem ein Galerist, der hier in der Provinz nicht nur die Künstlerische Avantgarde ausgestellt hat, sondern der sich auch um die hiesigen jungen Künstler kummerte. An official publication of the city confirms: Otto Meyer entfaltete eine ausserordentliche Tätigkeit als Aussteller junger Künstler, die zum Teil heute weltbekannt sind, damals aber noch hart um anerkennung ringen mussten.

    Meyer opened new premises in the thirties and changed the company's name into AMOBA: Adolf Meyer Osnabrück - Berlin - Amsterdam. With the Nazi's gaining ever more momentum, he decided to relocate to the latter city in 1937. During the war he joined the resistance group around Gerrit van der Veen and Willem Sandberg and liaised with Hans Calmeyer, the lawyer who saved thousands of lives by changing legal statuses into none- or part-Jewish. From 1943, attracting too much attention himself, Meyer was forced to sit out the war on a farm in Varsseveld, Gelderland.

    The war proved to be a watershed in Meyers' career. Sandberg, appointed director of the Stedelijk Museum, asked his war comrade to join him. Meyer started teaching at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. Energetic as ever, from 1947 he combined these posts with the directorship of the Jewish Historical Museum: a handful of display cases would grow into one of the premier museums of its' kind in Europe. In 1952 he was appointed chief curator of the Stedelijk Museum, where he would serve as an advisor from 1961 and as director from 1963.

    While the war changed a dealer into a teacher and curator, it left the collector Otto Meyer untouched. From his early years he owned works by Meidner and Feininger, growing more eclectic after the war. An Isaac Israels would fit in his collection as easily as several early Karel Appels (see lot 156-158), a nude by personal friend Foujita, a Leo Gestel self portrait and antiques: furniture, pewter, wooden sculpture and brass. The collection, offered through various Christie's auctions, is testimony to a life devoted to art.