Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979)
Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979)

Auto-Portrait (Self Portrait for the Stockholm Catalogue)

Sonia Delaunay (1885-1979)
Delaunay, S.
Auto-Portrait (Self Portrait for the Stockholm Catalogue)
gouache and encaustic on paper
12.7/8 x 17.1/8 in. (32.7 x 43.5 cm.)
Painted in 1916
Lucien Aguettand-Blanc, Paris (acquired as a gift from the artist, 1924).
Heirs of Lucien Aguettand-Blanc.
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Tokyo, Shoto Museum; Kariya Museum; Onomichi Museum; and Hiroshima, Akita Museum, L'Art du portrait en France du XIXme au XXme sicle, 1994.
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries,Sonia Delaunay, Works of the Teens and Twenties, April-May 1995, no. 10 (illustrated, p. 29 and on the cover).

Lot Essay

When the First World War erupted in August 1914, Robert and Sonia Delaunay and their son Charles were vacationing in Spain. Because Robert had already done his national service and had health problems, he would not be conscripted into the army, and the Delaunays decided to remain abroad. To escape the summer heat in Madrid, they moved to Lisbon the following year. The Delaunays were enthusiastic about the medieval architecture, the colorful folk arts and rugged landscape they found there. Sonia wrote: "The light of Portugal was not violent, but exalted every color" (quoted in A.A. Cohen, Sonia Delaunay, New York, 1975, p. 67). Sonia worked on two major series of paintings, those on the theme of the March de Minho and Nature morte portugaise.

An exhibition of Sonia's and Robert's paintings was planned for the Nya Konstgalleriet, Stockholm in 1916. Because many of Robert's paintings were already committed to other shows he had to drop out, and the occasion was devoted exclusively to Sonia's work -- it was her major solo exhibition. Sonia embarked on a series of studies for the illustrations to be used on the covers of the exhibition catalogue, of which the present work is an example.

The cover is composed of two joined sections, front and back. The right-hand side or front is a self-portrait which shows a woman's head with a hat, executed in the artist's familiar broken color circles. The left side or back cover in this version utilizes rectangular shapes, by way of contrast with the front, as a background for the artist's name. In the final version used for the cover, the disque format was also used on the back, with the exhibition venue lettered at the bottom. The final cover design for the Stockholm exhibition was executed individually for each copy using the pochoir (stencil) process. A sheet listing the exhibited works was inserted, and this comprised the catalogue.

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