Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Juan Gris (1887-1927)

Tête d'arlequin

Juan Gris (1887-1927)
Tête d'arlequin
signed 'Juan Gris' (lower right)
oil on canvas
13¾ x 9½ in. (35 x 24.1 cm.)
Painted in February-August 1924
Dr. Marcel Noréro, Paris; sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 14 February 1927, lot 51.
Galerie Simon, Paris (acquired at the above sale).
Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin (by 1930).
Karl Hofer, Berlin (by October 1933).
(possibly) Dr. Willi Raeber, Basel.
Douglas Cooper, London (by 1955).
William A. McCarty-Cooper, Los Angeles (by descent from the above); Estate sale, Christie's, New York, 11 May 1992, lot 32.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
Little Review, Fall 1924, p. 16, no. 10 (illustrated).
D.H. Kahnweiler, Juan Gris, His Life and Work, London, 1947, p. 38, no. 21 (illustrated in color).
D. Cooper, Letters of Juan Gris 1913-1927, London, 1956, no. CXCIX (25 August 1924).
D. Cooper, Juan Gris, Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1977, vol. II, p. 300, no. 476 (illustrated, p. 301).
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, In Memoriam Juan Gris, February 1930, no. 38.
Berlin, Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Neuere Spanische Kunst, December 1932-January 1933, no. 23.
Kunsthaus Zurich, Juan Gris, April 1933, no. 124.
Kunstmuseum Bern, Juan Gris, October 1955-January 1956, no. 103.

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David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

Gris painted this sensitive and affecting figure of an arlequin during a spell of intense and vigorous productivity prior to his final illness and tragically premature death at the age of 40, which ended a career of less than two decades duration. Some commentators have overlooked the merits of the artist's late works, but Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler called them "the crowning achievements of his oeuvre," (in L'Atelier de Juan Gris, exh. cat., Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 1957), and Douglas Cooper, a previous owner of the present painting, also drew attention to their mastery (op. cit., 1977, p. xxvii).

Christopher Green has noted that "There are innumerable indications of the currency of Commedia dell'Arte characters, especially Pierrot, after 1918 in France. The carnivals of 'mardi gras' in Paris and provincial France continued to be peopled by the Commedia dell'Arte masked characters. Gris wrote from Céret in 1922 of Josette shyly dressing up for carnival as Pierrot" (in Juan Gris, exh. cat., Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, 1992, p. 132). Gris's depiction of Pierrot also looks back on the long tradition in painting, ranging from Watteau to Cézanne (fig. 1). Pierrot symbolized purity and sensitivity. In 1922 the writer Paul-Sentenac characterized himself as Pierrot: "I personify the type of the dreamer. This poor Pierrot still believes in those things that the skepticism of fashion forbids. He believes in love. He believes in elevated, generous feelings I remain candid, opening always fresh eyes on life, wondering like a child. Pierrot is a grown-up child" (quoted in ibid., p. 133).

The first recorded owner of the present painting was Dr. Marcel Noréro, a great supporter of the Paris avant-garde. The February 1927 Hôtel Drouot sale of his collection included masterworks by artists Paul Signac, Pierre Bonnard, Henri Edmond Cross, George Braque and Andre Derain.

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