JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
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JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)


JOAN MIRÓ (1893-1983)
signed 'Miró' (lower right)
gouache, pastel and India ink on paper
25 ¼ x 18 7/8 in. (64 x 48 cm.)
Executed on 18 December 1942
Galerie Pierre, Paris.
Galerie Maeght, Paris.
Private collection, Pittsburg.
Quintana Fine Art, New York.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in December 1988.
J. Dupin & A. Lelong-Mainaud, Joan Miró, Catalogue raisonné: Drawings, vol. II, 1938-1959, Paris, 2010, no. 1037, p. 127 (illustrated).
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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. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Lot Essay

Miró completed the twenty-third and last of his landmark series of gouaches on paper he had come to call the Constellations at his family home in Montroig, Catalonia, on 12 September 1941. He executed the present work, Nocturne, during the following year, as he settled down into a new sequence of exploratory and experimental works executed between Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona.
He hoped to put behind him the anxieties and tribulations of the past two years, in which he and his family had undertaken a veritable odyssey to reach the safe haven of home, as Europe descended into darkness and hopelessness all around him. Miró moved to Palma de Mallorca, in November 1941, a sanctuary where his wife Pilar's parents lived, and within a few weeks he commenced a new group of works on paper.
Miró wrote to his friend E.C. Ricart on 15 February 1942: ‘I considered it convenient for me to spend some time here in Palma. I spend almost all of my time working, I see almost no one, and in this way escape without being engulfed by the terrible tragedy of the entire world’ (quoted in C. Lanchner, Miró, exh. cat., New York, 1993, p. 336). He did not paint in oil on canvas, and would not do so with any regularity until 1944. Miró found that working on paper best suited his nomadic and ‘furtive’ existence, and besides, canvas was hard to come by and expensive to purchase. Moreover, the visionary Constellations had provided Miró with a vast reservoir of visual imagery, and they had opened up to him a wide range of techniques that he needed to mull over and carry forward, without mechanically repeating the actual look of this soon-to-become-celebrated series.
Jacques Dupin has described this burst of renewed activity: ‘In 1942 [the Constellations] were followed by a large number of watercolours, gouaches and drawings, characterized by freedom of invention and a marvellous effortlessness. In this evolution of his art, which was to end in the creation of his definitive style, renewed contact with Spain after five years of absence - with Majorca most especially - was doubtless crucial. They are explorations undertaken with no preconceived idea - effervescent creations in which the artist perfected a vast repertory of forms, signs, and formulas, bringing into play all the materials and instruments compatible with paper. The object of all these explorations is to determine the relationship between drawing and the materials, line and space’ (in Miró, Paris, 2004, pp. 257-260).
Miró executed Nocturne at the very height of this new rush of creativity, after he had moved back to Barcelona at the end of 1942. With its quintessentially abstract nature, the composition is dominated by the presence of a cobalt blue star, a crucial element to Miró’s visual idiom first introduced in his paintings of the 1920s. Combining a childish, slightly distorted profile with the most spiritual of colours, the blue star became a recurrent symbol in the artist’s lyrical language. Here, this key element is juxtaposed to what appears to be a human figure, drawn with very fine, stylised lines, against a sparely coloured background.
Nocturne, which belongs to a small series of three gouache on paper titled Nocturne and executed, with a similar compositional scheme, on 18 December 1942, (Dupin & Lelong-Mainaud nos. 1035-1037), was acquired by the present owner in 1988 and has since remained in the same private hands.

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