Juan Gris (1887-1927)
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Juan Gris (1887-1927)

La liseuse

Juan Gris (1887-1927)
La liseuse
incised with the signature and date 'Juan Gris 26' (lower left)
oil on canvas
31 7/8 x 25 5/8 in. (81 x 65 cm.)
Painted in April - November 1926
Galerie Simon, Paris (no. 9532).
Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm.
Private collection, Sweden, by whom acquired from the above in 1947, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, 3 February 2004, lot 240.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, sa vie, son oeuvre, ses écrits, Paris, 1946 (illustrated pl. XLII).
D. Cooper, Juan Gris, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, vol. II, Paris, 1977, no. 572 (illustrated p. 393).
J.A. Gaya Nuño, Juan Gris, Un peintre cubiste, Barcelona, 1984, no. 604 (illustrated p. 232).
Stockholm, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Fransk konst ur privata samlingar i Stockholm, March 1951, no. 26.
Stockholm, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet 1918-1953, November - December 1953, no. 82.
Stockholm, Liljevalchs Konsthall, Fraan Cézanne till Picasso, September 1954, no. 167 (illustrated).
Dortmund, Museum am Ostwall, Juan Gris, October - December 1965, no. 93 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Cologne, Wallraf-Richartz Museum.
Geneva, Musée Rath, Art du XXe siècle, Collections genevoises, June - September 1973, no. 50.
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Lot Essay

Painted in 1926, during a period in the last few years of Gris' life which Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler considered the most fruitful and beautiful of the artist's career, La liseuse is a lyrical depiction of a young woman in front of an open window. Constructed with typical overlapping forms, the foundation of the work recalls some of the harsh angles of Gris' more classically cubist period, but here the artist combines this with the serpentine line of the woman's body and clothing, presenting an altogether softer, more harmonious composition. Gris further treats us to a compositional device typical of many of his earlier compositions: the open window. Through it we can see red rooftops, in sharp relief against a deep blue sky, that echo the angularity of the room and lend depth and verisimilitude to the composition.

In assessing Gris' painting in the last few years of his life Kahnweiler wrote: 'From the purely technical point of view it was certainly the most rigorous period of his life. Stately and firm, his paintings had become the "flat coloured architecture" of which he talked. Everything was restored to the flat surface...Gris revealed himself at this time as a classical painter: lucidity, purity, the preponderance of the work of art itself, the predominance of the general, the static quality, all the symptoms are there. He is classical too in the way he subordinates his emotion to the work in which it is expressed' (D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work, London, 1969, pp. 129-130).

La liseuse was used as the basis of a lithograph that Gris produced as one of four illustrations for Gertrude Stein's A Book Concluding with 'As a Wife Has a Cow', A Love Story, published by the Galerie Simon in Paris in 1926. There is also a small gouache of the subject from the same year, which was sold through Alfred Flechtheim in Dusseldorf in 1930.

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