PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)
PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, THE NETHERLANDS
PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)

Portret van Elisabeth Sophia Maria (Betsy) Cavalini

PIET MONDRIAN (1872-1944)
Portret van Elisabeth Sophia Maria (Betsy) Cavalini
signed and dated 'PIET MONDRIAAN. 1901.' (upper right)
oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 21 1/8 in. (74 x 53.7 cm.)
Painted in 1901
Cornelis Bergman, Amsterdam, by whom commissioned from the artist.
Elisabeth Sophia Maria Cavalini, Amsterdam, a gift from the above, and thence by descent.
E. J. van Wisselingh & Co., Amsterdam.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2018.
E. de Visser, W. Copse, S. Hoekema & T. Geerts, Piet Mondrian: Catalogue Raisonné (http://catalogue.pietmondrian.nl), no. 122720 (illustrated). Accessed 13 May 2023.
A. van Leeuwen, 'Vroeg schilderij van Piet Mondriaan ontdekt en verkocht', in De Volkskrant, 16 November 2018 (illustrated).
N. Draaijer, De geheime portretten van Mondriaan, Amsterdam, 2022.
K. Keijer, 'Nick Draaijer schreef een boek over de Mondriaan die boven de bank van zijn grootouders hing', in Het Parool, 3 March 2022 (illustrated).
Alkmaar, Stedelijk Museum, Mysterie Mondrian, November 2018 - March 2019.
Winterswijk, Museum Villa Mondriaan, Mondriaan vs. hedendaagse kunstenaars, March - September 2019.
Amersfoort, Mondriaanhuis, on loan, March 2020.
Oss, Museum Jan Cunen, on loan, by March 2022.
Special notice
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.
Further details
This work will be included in the online catalogue raisonné of Piet Mondrian being prepared by Drs Wietse Coppes.

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Imogen Kerr
Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Before Piet Mondrian developing his distinctively abstract formal language, reducing his forms to straight lines using the primary colours black, white, red, yellow and blue, his oeuvre would be characterised by a more figurative style as he explored painting a young artist in Amsterdam. In line with the seventeenth-century Dutch tradition of landscape painting, Mondrian’s early works depict the countryside on the outskirts of Amsterdam, where he was often found painting and drawing amongst the mills and the meadows. As a means of financially supporting himself, Mondrian took portrait commissions from members of Amsterdam’s upper-middle class.

The current work was commissioned by Mondrian’s close friend Cornelis ‘Cees’ Bergman, a coffee merchant, whom he met during his early years in Amsterdam. The portrait was a marriage gift from Bergman to his wife, Elisabeth ‘Betsy’ Bergman-Cavalini. Bergman received painting lessons from Mondrian and the two became life-long friends. In total, the Bergman family bought around twenty paintings from Mondrian, supporting him throughout his career.

The portrait of Betsy Bergman-Cavalini depicts a poised young woman. Her prominent headpiece adorned with violet and mint green rhododendrons illustrates her modern fashion sense. Her tucked in blouse accentuates her petite stature, while the frills and high neckline convey an elegant silhouette. Her dark curls, carefully tucked away under the colourful flowers, are a nod to her Italian heritage. An almost finished portrait of Betsy is clearly visible on the easel in front of him, verifying Mondrian as the artist.

For decades, the portrait of Betsy Bergman-Cavalini had been in the private collection of the Bergman family. The family referred to her as their own ‘Mona Lisa’, comparing the elegant portrait to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece. The painting remained with the family for over a century. Since then, Betsy Bergman-Cavalini has been reunited with her pendant, the portrait of Cees Bergman, also by Mondrian in a series of exhibitions at a number of renowned museums around The Netherlands. The unique works are two of the few known examples of Mondrian’s early figurative style. A little over a decade after completing Betsy’s portrait, Mondrian moved to Paris, which marked the beginning of his distinctive abstract style, best known from his renowned works such as Composition No. III, with Red, Blue, Yellow, and Black (1929) and Victory Boogie Woogie (1942-1944).

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