Bozena Nikiel will include this painting in her forthcoming Metzinger catalogue raisonné.
In the years preceding the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Jean Metzinger worked together with Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris at the very epicenter of the cubist movement that had revolutionized modern art. Metzinger showed his paintings in all the large public exhibitions, including the Salon des Indépendents each spring and the Salon d'Automne later in the year. He was a major figure in the pivotal Section d'Or exhibition at the Galerie La Boètie in October 1912. Guillaume Apollinaire, in reviewing the 1910 Salon d'Automne, wrote that Metzinger "is here the only one adept at Cubism proper" (quoted in D. Robbins, Jean Metzinger In Retrospect, exh. cat., The University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, 1985, p. 16).
Together with his colleague Albert Gleizes, Metzinger wrote Du Cubisme, the first comprehensive text to explain the theories and aims of the new movement, which was published at the end of 1912. In Du Cubisme he proclaimed, "To establish pictorial space, we must have recourse to tactile and motor sensations, indeed to all our faculties. It is our whole personality which, contracting or expanding, transforms the plane of the picture. As it reacts, this plane reflects the personality back upon the understanding of the spectator; and thus pictorial space is defined a sensitive passage between two subjective spaces. The Forms which are situated within this space spring from a dynamism which we profess to dominate. In order that our intelligence may possess it, let us first exercise our sensitivity. There are only nuances. Form appears endowed with properties identical to those of color. It is tempered or augmented by contact with another form, it is destroyed or it flowers, it is multiplied or is disappears" (quoted in R.L. Herbert, ed., Modern Artists on Art, New York, 1986, p. 8).
The present work embodies the artistic principles Metzinger touted, as he articulated space through varying textures and color. Robbins notes that color played an essential role in Metzinger's work both as an expressive and decorative element. The scene is energized through the vertically curving lines which wind their way up the center of the canvas. These sinous lines become a compositional device, used to divide the canvas and to seemingly create two juxtaposed towns--where the right side is dominated by the warm colors of red and pink and the left features the more subdued tones of black and gray, incorporating the red and pink as accents to the landscape. The present work belongs to a series of landscapes the artist completed between 1919 and 1921. The artist's later cubist works are characterized by a flattening of space and a simplification of form--he moved away from the heavy, decorative patterning and sharp angular lines that defined his earlier cubist studies. Robbins commented that the landscapes dating from 1921 "attain a sense of balance, harmony, and even mystery that deserves recognition as an important achievement in Metzinger's development" (D. Robbins, op. cit., p. 46).