SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION
SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)

Portugaise assise

SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979)
Portugaise assise
signed and dated 'SONIA DELAUNAY-TERK 1915-16' (lower right)
oil on canvas
30 5/8 x 37 ¾ in. (77.6 x 96 cm.)
Painted in Portugal in 1915-1916
Galerie Bing, Paris.
Mr & Mrs Pierre Batifol, Paris.
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York (no. 1055), by October 1971.
Private collection, Paris.
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's, New York, 12 May 1987, lot 377.
Acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent to the present owners.
London, Brook Street Gallery, Sonia Delaunay, May 1961, no. 24, p. 10 (with inverted dimensions).
Recklinghausen, Städtische Kunsthalle, Idee und Vollendung, May - July 1962, no. 14k, p. 126.
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Russian Avant-Garde 1908-1922, October - December 1971, no. 15, p. 37 (illustrated; titled 'Portuguese Woman').
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, Sonia Delaunay, Works of the Teens and Twenties, April - May 1995, no. 18, p. 38 (illustrated p. 39; titled 'Portuguese Woman (La portugaise)').
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.
Post lot text
Jean-Louis Delaunay and Richard Riss have confirmed the authenticity of this work.

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Micol Flocchini
Micol Flocchini Head of Works on Paper Sale

Lot Essay

'Sight upon sight, disturbing by their very singularity, succeed one another. Violent colour contrasts, women's dresses, bright shawls against the sharp metallic greens of watermelons. Markets in the sun, women hidden behind heaps of pumpkins and other vegetables, while tall figures go by bearing on their heads vases, irregular and pure in form like antique jars.'
Robert Delaunay, a record in his Portuguese notebooks quoted in A. Cohen, Sonia Delaunay, New York, 1975, p. 96.

On holiday in the Iberian Peninsula, the Delaunays were prevented from returning to France by the outbreak of war in August 1914. Robert and Sonia, with their son Charles, remained in the region until 1921, dividing their time between Spain and Portugal. In 1915, after a winter spent in Madrid, seeking cooler climes for the summer, the family moved to Vila do Conde near Oporto in Northern Portugal. The village had a lively community of artists and intellectuals and the Delaunays were instantly made to feel welcome by their new circle of friends: 'A dream life. We could work quietly from morning to night. The villa was perched on the sand dunes, with the cacti blooming in the garden. I thought I was living in a fairytale. As soon as we arrived, I fell in love with the village' (Sonia Delaunay in Nous Irons Jusqu'au Soleil, Paris, 1978, p. 37).

From this home they explored new sources of inspiration related to their strong interest in folk art and local folklore. The isolated, rustic beauty of the place particularly captivated Sonia. She found the colours of the village and surrounding countryside intoxicating and painted tirelessly from dawn to dusk. The traditional peasant culture brought back memories of her Russian childhood, and she took inspiration from the shapes and hues of the local costumes, pottery, vegetables, flowers and animals to put into practice the conceptual experiments she had begun before the war in Paris.

Portugaise assise is from a pivotal series of paintings that capture the lively market at Minho, two of which are homed in the Pompidou, Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The artist's main purpose in Portugaise assise is not simply to represent a local woman, at her work, but to study light – the particularly warm and clear light of northern Portugal, which Delaunay has divided and recomposed into a riotous cacophony of colour and movement that immerses the viewer in the raucous, sensual atmosphere of the sun-drenched Portuguese marketplace.

In Portugaise assise, the artist places abstract moving coloured discs, around the sitter, generating movement and depth to create spaces and enhance the dynamic arrangement of colour. The overall tone is warm, with reds, oranges and yellows. The greens and blues are loaded with yellow and there is an interplay of simultaneous contrasts. Each primary colour gains in intensity alongside its complementary colour. This combination of abstract and figurative motifs closely reflects Delaunay's new artistic direction, combining figurative elements with abstraction, artistic research with folk art: 'I tried to express the light, the richness and the strength of the colours of the women, of the local vegetables and fruits, before finally focussing on a single subject: the market teeming with life, colour, people, animals, vegetables, with the viaduct rising in the background. I made multiple sketches to base my impressions around a strict composition, in order to best express what I felt. At the time, I was using hot wax paint: the paintings were made on local canvases, and the studies on paper. What mattered was the greatest purity and strength of the colour. As a consequence, these artworks did not fade, and their colours are as bright now as on the first day' (Sonia Delaunay quoted in M. Hogg, Robert et Sonia Delaunay, exh. cat., Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, 1967, p. 152).

The peculiar effect of chromatic saturation emanating from the pictures painted by both Robert and Sonia Delaunay in Portugal is due to the use of a special wax technique referenced above. A variation of the encaustic method, in which the pigments are mixed with oil and wax. This technique, which the Delaunays had learned in Paris from the Mexican painter Zárraga, also guarantees a greater persistence of the luminosity of the colours, although its practice is slow and difficult, and was not to continue after their stay in Portugal.

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