Felix Delmarle (French, 1889-1952)
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Felix Delmarle (French, 1889-1952)


Felix Delmarle (French, 1889-1952)
signed and dated 'A.F.Mac-Delmarle 1913' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'A.F.Mac-Delmarle "Bretonnes" 1913' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
45¾ x 35 in. (116 x 89 cm.)
Painted in 1913
Private collection, France, a gift from the artist; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 25 June 1990, lot 191.
On loan to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, since 1995.
U. Peters & A. Legde, Kulturgeschichtliche Spaziergänge im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Moderne Zeiten, die Sammlung zum 20.Jahrhundert, vol. III, Nuremberg, 2000 (illustrated p. 72).
Altenburg, Lindenau-Museum, Internationale Sprachen der Kunst: Gemälde, Zeichnungen und Skulpturen der Klassischen Moderne aus der Sammlung Hoh, August - October 1998, no. 14 (illustrated p. 51); this exhibition later travelled to Osnabrück, Kulturgeschichtliches Museum Felix-Nussbaum-Haus, Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall and Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum.
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Lot Essay

Félix Delmarle's Futurist phase lasted only three or four years, but the paintings he produced during this brief period, combined with his outspoken encouragement for a radical upheaval of artistic mores, secured him an important place in this international movement. Delmarle's Bretonnes was produced in 1913, the year he took up residence in Paris after completing his studies at the School of Fine Art in Valenciennes near Lille, and in Brussels. It was during this year also, that he became close to Apollinaire, Max Jacob and the Cubists, and shared a studio with Gino Severini. Through Severini, Delmarle became familiar with the ambitions and ideals of the Italian Futurists, becoming the only French painter to become an avowed member of their ranks and to extend upon the 'universal dynamism' expounded in their manifestos.

In Bretonnes, Delmarle creates a kaleidoscopic abstraction of a church interior, compressing space, time and movement into a single vision of an event. The composition follows the principles of Futurism by questioning the materiality of solid forms through fractured, multiplied planes and the use of diagonal lines to instil a sense of force and motion. The scene shows a group of women in the traditional attire of the French coastal region of Brittany, their heads bent in prayer for their sons and husbands lost at sea. The votive candles above their heads appear as a manifestation of their thoughts, and hover in the forefront of the picture plane as if they had been burnt upon the painter's retina. The influence of Delmarle's Cubist contacts can also be seen in the altar of the church, which is depicted from a multitude of angles and features a trompe l'oeil wood grain effect reminiscent of the collage works of Picasso and Braque. Although he avoids the whirl of steel and speed typical of many Futurist paintings, this unusually sombre subject embodies Delmarle's newfound mastery of prism-like distortions. This faceted space successfully integrates vignettes from an expansive environment into a cohesive and harmonious composition that represents the endless flux of objects and images through time and space.

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