• Old Master, Modern & Contempor auction at Christies

    Sale 7839

    Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints

    31 March 2010, London, King Street

  • Lot 101

    El Lissitzky (1890-1941)

    Proun I L (Gmurzynska 26)

    Price Realised  


    El Lissitzky (1890-1941)
    Proun I L (Gmurzynska 26)
    lithograph, 1919, on smooth white wove paper, signed in pencil, titled on the reverse, extremely rare, printed by the artist by hand, one of only a few known proofs, no edition having been recorded, with a vertical central crease, minor creasing at the tip of the lower right corner and soft creasing elsewhere
    L. 255 x 336 mm., S. 270 x 244 mm.

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    This and the following lot form part of a projected portfolio of eleven lithographs based on Lissitzky's Proun drawings. It preceeded the first Kestner-Mappe, which was printed and published in Hannover in 1923. No published edition of Proun has ever been traced, and the lithographs, which the artist printed on a hand press in Russia, are known only in proof form. Of the impressions that have survived, the majority are unsigned.

    The present impressions come from the collection of Maurice van Essche, editior of the Belgian avant-garde periodical Ça Ira. In early 1923 he wrote to Lissitzky, asking him to contribute work for an exhibition of linocuts and woodcuts. The artist replied that he did not have any examples of these techniques to hand, but, referring to the Proun lithographs, said that 'I think these will be just as good in a Graphic Exhibition as wood or linoleum cuts.' He went on to say 'They all have the same title: PROUN (PROOUN in French), and are differentiated only by the numbers inscribed. When you print your catalogue, my name is EL LISSITZKY (MOSCOW). They are the last few hand-printed proofs I have left, and I must ask 20 Francs each.'

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Sotheby's, London, 17 May, 1979, lot 121C.