Lot Content

Global notice COVID-19 Important notice
Alexej Von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
Property from the Collection of Raymond and Miriam Klein We are pleased to present the following work from the collection of Raymond and Miriam Klein. Prominent Philadelphia based collectors and philanthropists, the Kleins' are remembered for both their indelible sense of style and for their generous support, not only in donations, but also of their time for local and international community based causes including, the Kimmel Center, Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, the Sheba Medical Center in Israel, the Raymond and Miriam Klein Community Center, Tel Giborim, Israel, as well as the Raymond and Miriam Klein Jewish Community Center in Northeast Philadelphia, which they founded in 1975. Long time supporters and collectors of the arts, both fine and decorative, the core of the Kleins' collection was thoughtfully and passionately collected over thirty years ago. As with their unflagging commitment to charitable causes, the Kleins generously shared their resplendent apartment and collection as a regular venue for fundraising parties and balls throughout their lives. Property from the Collection of Raymond and Miriam Klein
Alexej Von Jawlensky (1864-1941)


Alexej Von Jawlensky (1864-1941)
oil on board (recto and verso)
27½ x 19 1/3 in. (70 x 49 cm.)
Painted circa 1912
Ludwig ten Hompel, Dusseldorf (probably acquired from the artist, circa 1920).
Private collection, Germany (by descent from above, 1932).
Galerie Konrad Fischer, Dusseldorf (by descent from the above, by 1987).
Lafayette Parke Gallery, New York (by 1990).
Robert Baum, New Jersey (by 1995).
Landau Fine Art, Montreal (acquired from the above).
Acquired from the above by the late owners, by 2001.
M. Jawlensky, L. Pieroni-Jawlensky and A. Jawlensky, Alexej von Jawlensky, Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings, 1890-1914, London, 1991, vol. I, p. 403, no. 521 (recto illustrated in color, p. 415; verso illustrated, p. 403).

Brought to you by

Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

With her piercing blue eyes, the sitter in Alexej von Jawlensky's Frauenbildnis gazes directly at the viewer--and originally at the painter. This picture, painted circa 1912, is filled with color: its expressionistic palette is evident in the vivid green background, the blue of the subject's hair and the dabbed strokes of color that so painstakingly make up her flesh, not least the flushed purple of her cheeks. Frauenbildnis is one of a small number of nudes that Jawlensky created during this period of his career, when in his figure paintings he was increasingly focusing on the human face which was already becoming his signature. Frauenbildnis is all the more exceptional as it features, on its verso, another painting, showing a stern female head in profile, again captured using the almost fauve palette that would become so influential in Jawlensky's works upon an emergent generation of German painters.

Frauenbildnis was painted during what Jawlensky himself considered to be one of the great highpoints of his career. As he would tell Lisa Kümmel some decades later, he had gone with his companion Hélène and their son Andrej, as well as his friend and fellow artist Marianne von Werefkin, to Prerow on the Baltic. There, the development of the direct, forceful and incandescent palette that had for some time been percolating came to full fruition:

"For me that summer meant a great step forward in my art. I painted my finest landscapes there as well as large figure paintings in powerful, glowing colors not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were very strongly contoured in Prussian blue and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy... It was a turning-point in my art. It was in these years, up to 1914 just before the war, that I painted my most powerful works, referred to as the 'pre-war works'" (Jawlensky, quoted in "Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, Wiesbaden, 1937," pp. 25-33 in M. Jawlensky, L. Peroni-Jawlensky and A. Jawlensky, ed., op. cit., London, 1991, p. 31).

Frauenbildnis is one of these "pre-war works," and shows the hallmark color range that marked out the other pictures from this period, many of which are now in museums throughout the world. These pictures, while they often focused on the human face, revealing Jawlensky's interest in physiognomy and prefiguring the "Abstract Heads" and other later works, did not yet feature the formality and rigour of those subsequent depictions. Instead, they often showed very different characters or aspects of their subjects, as is the case in Frauenbildnis, where the usual square format that the artist favored has been abandoned in order to include the sitter's torso.

Crucially, Frauenbildnis is extraordinary amongst the few nudes that Jawlensky painted during this period of his career as it allows him to combine that subject with the human face, focusing not on the body of the subject but instead on her gaze. In many of the other nudes of this time, Jawlensky was clearly exploring the depiction of the human body as a whole; here, it is almost incidental to the intense presence of the staring blue eyes which are the main anchor of the picture. The body in Frauenbildnis is a coda that underscores the intimacy of the depicted situation. By contrast, Jawlensky's more intense focus on the body itself in some of the other pictures showing nude subjects is clear in the earlier Sitzender weiblicher Akt of circa 1910, now in the Städtische Galerie im Lembachhaus, Munich, where the face is hardly delineated in comparison to the undulations of the body. Meanwhile, the 1912 painting Schlafende shows a sleeping woman, meaning that the eyes, those vital windows of awareness, are closed. In the 1912 painting, Akt I, the woman is shown twisting away. A comparison to Frauenbildnis is found in two pictures from the same period entitled Halbakt, yet in neither does Jawlensky capture the same heady sense of intimacy that is found here. Even the more comparable Weiblicher Akt (fig. 1), ascribed a date of circa 1913 in the catalogue raisonné but elsewhere variously dated, a picture which shows comparative aspects to Frauenbildnis, features a downward gaze that ruptures the immediacy of the eye-contact of this picture.

The development of Jawlensky's bold palette owed itself to a number of influences, from the works of Van Gogh to those of Matisse, whom he had met in 1905 and saw again in 1911, just before the period when Frauenbildnis was probably painted. Of his time in Paris in 1911, Jawlensky would say, "With Matisse I had long and fascinating conversations about art." He then recalled:

"I also got to know van Dongen, who was then not so well known. I saw a number of extremely fine paintings at his place, and one in particular which appealed to me very much. I told him so. All he said was, 'That's pour épater le bourgeois'... We returned to Munich at the end of that autumn, and during 1912 I continued to develop what I had begun at Prerow, painting many powerful works which are now almost all in museums and private collections" (Jawlensky, quoted in ibid., p. 31).

Looking at the subject matter of Frauenbildnis and the Halbakt pictures, one wonders if this fresh perspective on the nude in Jawlensky's work during this period was not due to the sensual Fauve works of his French contemporary (fig. 2). Certainly, this picture shares a sense of heady eroticism with Van Dongen's pictures from the height of his unique perspective on Fauvism on to the time that Jawlensky met him. It is interesting to note too that the head on the verso of Frauenbildnis resembles some of Van Dongen's earlier pictures of singers shown in profile, while Jawlensky was typically more intrigued by the prospect of showing faces front-on, creating a confrontation and therefore engaging his viewer.

Frauenbildnis dates from one of the key periods in Jawlensky's life, when his influence reverberated through the German avant-garde. It was only a few years earlier, in 1909, that he had helped to found the Neue Künstlervereinigung Munich alongside a number of artists including his compatriots Werefkin and Kandinsky; they would later be joined by Marc and Macke. In 1911, several of the artists, including Marc, Macke and Kandinsky, withdrew from the Neue Künstlervereinigung Munich as it had had its course changed from within; they instead created the Blaue Reiter, a movement with which Jawlensky himself would soon be associated. The importance of Jawlensky to the avant-garde would continue, as is reflected by the history of Frauenbildnis, which came to be owned by the artist Ludwig ten Hompel. Based in Dusseldorf for much of his life, after the First World War he was one of the artists who came to be associated with Junge Rheinland alongside Otto Dix and Max Ernst.

(fig. 1) Alexej von Jawlensky, Weiblicher Halbakt, circa 1913. Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Barcode: 33865485

(fig. 2) Kees van Dongen, Femme au grand chapeau, 1906.
Barcode: 33865492

More from Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

View All
View All