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Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Fernand Leger (1881-1955)

Etude pour le rideau du ballet Les Patineurs

Fernand Leger (1881-1955)
Etude pour le rideau du ballet Les Patineurs
signed with initials 'F.L' (lower right)
gouache and watercolor on paper squared for transfer laid down on board
Image size: 14½ x 17¾ in. (36.8 x 45.1 cm.)
Board size: 19 5/8 x 23 7/8 in. (49.8 x 60.7 cm.)
Executed in 1921
Anon. (acquired from the artist by the family of the owner); sale, Christie's, London, 7 February 2002, lot 366.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
G. di San Lazzarro, ed., 'Homage to Fernand Léger,' special issue of the XXe Siècle Review, Paris, 1971, p. 67 (illustrated).
Eindhoven, Stedelijk van Abbe-Museum, Beeldend experiment op de planke, October-November 1964, no. 115.

Lot Essay

When, in May 1917, the Ballets Russes performed Jean Cocteau's Parade with set designs by Pablo Picasso and music by Eric Satie, Guillaume Apollinaire acknowledged in this fusion of theatre and painting the revelation of a new spirit. He declared that this creative alliance would transform art and morality and lead surely to the summit of scientific progress. Motivated by the same faith in the social responsibility of the artist, Léger became involved in the theatre, designing the costumes, the curtains and the sets for two ballets. During the years 1920-1925, as modern dance established itself on European stages, the productions of the avant-garde Ballets Suédois competed with the achievements of the Ballets Russes. In 1921, Rolf de Maré, the founder and director of the Ballets Suédois, commissioned Léger to design the set and costumes for the ballet Les patineurs, based on Ricciotto Canudo's poem Skating-rink à Tabarin: Ballet aux patins. Jean Börlin was asked to choreograph the dancers and music was commissioned from Arthur Honegger. Léger's set designs recall his large-scale canvases of this period, such as La Ville of 1919 (Philadelphia Museum of Art) or Le Grand Remorquer of 1923 (Musée National Fernand Léger, Biot).

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