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    Sale 7740

    Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Auction

    1 July 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 188

    Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992)

    La fête bretonne

    Price Realised  


    Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992)
    La fête bretonne
    signed and dated 'Vieira da Silva 52' (lower right)
    oil on burlap
    36 1/8 x 28 7/8in. (91.7 x 73.3cm.)
    Painted in 1952

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    In, La fête bretonne Vieira da Silva presents the viewers with an accumulation of horizontal and vertical swirling lines that converge to form a village party full of energy and movement. The painting is both disorienting and abstract yet balanced and full of life. Vieira da Silva's obsession with perspective and pictorial space becomes evident as the colliding strokes do not allow for the eye to focus on any given point. Through this, the viewer is able to gain entry to La fête bretonne and explore the multiple spatial dimensions the artist has conjured into existence.

    The emphasis on primary colours and geometric patterns is somewhat deceptive. Indeed, Vieira da Silva did not believe that her art was abstract. "I do not know what non-figurative painting is supposed to be. The starting point for my paintings is always reality. And you must not forget that a painter gets used to looking at things and really knowing what they are like, whereas those who do not paint see nothing but formulas" (Vieira da Silva quoted in G. Rosenthal, Vieira da Silva 1908-1992: The Quest for Unknown Space, Cologne 1998, p. 71).
    Vieira da Silva's inspiration was vast and contained diverse figurative elements, ranging from the decorative tiles from her native Lisbon to the scaffolding of her adopted home to Cezanne's planes of colour.
    Finally, La fête bretonne is also a celebration of life. Painted in 1952, Vieira da Silva had returned to Paris, where her success had flourished. This painting departs from her earlier works where her isolated childhood and years in exile were reflected in their solemn contents. The war and years of instability finally over, the artist was able to focus on festive subjects. However, the fragmented aspect of La fête bretonne combined with the indefinable figures serve as a reminder of the uncertainty and fragility of human life, retaining a connection with the atmosphere of existential angst so prevalent at the time.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Galerie Jeanne-Bucher, Paris.

    Pre-Lot Text



    D. Vallier, La peinture de Vieira da Silva: Chemins d'approche, Paris 1971 (illustrated, p. 120).
    G. Weelen & J.-F. Jaeger, Vieira da Silva Monographie, Geneva 1993 (illustrated in colour, p. 311).
    G. Weelen & J.-F. Jaeger, Vieira da Silva Catalogue raisonné, Geneva 1994, no. 964 (illustrated, p. 187).


    Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Rythmes et couleurs, June-September 1952, no. 116.
    Zurich, Kunsthaus, Ein Querschnitt. Malerei in Paris-Heute, October-November 1952, no. 125.