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    Sale 7702

    Impressionist/Modern, Day Sale

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 407

    Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)

    Kind mit gefalteten Händen

    Price Realised  


    Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
    Kind mit gefalteten Händen
    signed 'A.Jawlensky' (upper right)
    oil on canvas laid down on board
    16 x 12 7/8 in. (40.6 x 32.8 cm.)
    Painted circa 1909

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    Executed in 1909, Kind mit gefalteten Händen dates from the period in which Jawlensky began to find and consolidate his own individualised, artistic language of expression. 'My paintings glowed with colour. I was deeply contented at that time. For the first time in my life I had grasped how to paint not what I saw but what I felt' (Jawlensky, 'Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, Wiesbaden, 1937', quoted in M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, 1890-1914, London, 1991, p. 30). A striking and powerfully rendered depiction of the human form, Kind mit gefalteten Händen expresses a profound timelessness, as well as the spirituality Jawlensky always sought to portray in his explorations of the figure.

    The bold colourism of Kind mit gefalteten Händen is most evident in the girl's face and in the intense blues of the background, particularly as Jawlensky contrasts these areas so starkly with the subtle but highly varied colouring of the expanse of her dress. Jawlensky's use of green to portray shadow in the girl's head and neck, as well as more sparingly in her arms, was a technique adopted from Henri Matisse, with whom he had exhibited at the infamous Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1905. The zones of expressive colour that Matisse liberated from descriptive function reappear with a Germanic sensibility in Jawlensky's use of non-naturalistic, complementary colours and heavy, dark outlines. Jawlensky was greatly impressed by Matisse's bold and unfettered palette and, like Matisse, he utilized form solely as a structure through which he could explore colour and the essential nature of that which he portrayed.

    Kind mit gefalteten Händen prefigures, in the breakdown of form and the simplification of descriptive technique in favour of colouristic expression, Jawlensky's later celebrated series of Heilandsgesicht and Abstrakter Kopf. It is in these pictures that Jawlensky attains an abstract use of colour and form that moves far beyond Matisse. However, in not yet displaying the codified similarity of those series paintings, Kind mit gefalteten Händen remains a colourist exploration of an individual, rather than a generalised notion of the human form as abstract subject matter and template for the artist's arrangement and exploration of colour. Jawlensky can already be seen paring back the subject matter in order to emphasise the figure, removing any extraneous detail that might anchor the picture in too specific a moment. The background has been rendered in tones that are deliberately dark in order to make the girl and her dress appear to glow upon the canvas, an effect that is heightened by the incandescent reds and yellows that highlight her face.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, by 1957.
    Spencer A. Samuels & Co. Ltd., New York.
    Acquired from the above by the family of the present owner in December 1968, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 5 February 2008, lot 233 (£300,500).


    C. Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky, Cologne, 1959, no. 47 (illustrated p. 229).
    C. Weiler, Alexej Jawlensky: Köpfe, Gesichter, Meditationen, Hanau, 1970, no. 51, p. 122.
    M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky & A. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, vol. I, 1890-1914, London, 1991, no. 236 (illustrated p. 205).


    New York, Sidney Janis Gallery, March 1957, no. 2 (illustrated).
    Pasadena, Art Museum, Jawlensky, Centennial Exhibition, April - May 1964, no. 12.
    San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery, Twentieth Century Art, July - September 1970.
    San Diego, Fine Arts Gallery, Summer Show, June - September 1972.