Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
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Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)

Die Blaue Insel (The Blue Island)

Details
Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956)
Die Blaue Insel (The Blue Island)
signed 'Feininger' (upper left); signed and dated 'L.Feininger 1934' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
16 1/8 x 19¼ in. (40.8 x 48.7 cm.)
Painted in 1934
Provenance
The artist's estate.
Lore Feininger, Munich, by 1956.
Anonymous sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, Stuttgart, 3 May 1961, lot 73.
Marlborough Fine Art Ltd., London, by whom acquired at the above sale.
Galerie Lopes, Zurich (no. GLK 5423).
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Literature
H. Hess, Lyonel Feininger, London, 1961, no. 362, p. 282 (illustrated).
Exhibited
Berlin, Galerie Nierendorf, Lyonel Feininger: Gemälde und Aquarelle, April 1936, no. 8.
Oakland, CA, Mills College Art Gallery, Lyonel Feininger, June - August 1936, no. 44; this exhibition later travelled to San Francisco, Museum of Art, August - September 1936; Seattle, Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, October 1936; and New York, Nierendorf Gallery, May 1937.RSanta Barbara, Faulkner Memorial Art Gallery, Lyonel Feininger: Exhibition of Oil and Water Color Paintings and Prints, January 1937, no. 30.
Wellesley, MA, The Art Museum of Wellesley College, Exhibition of Paintings by Lyonel Feininger, January - February 1940, no. 6.
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Lyonel Feininger, Marsden Hartley, October 1944.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Painters of the Bauhaus, March - April 1962, no. 35, p.30 (illustrated).
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

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Adrienne Dumas
Adrienne Dumas

Lot Essay

Achim Moeller has confirmed the authenticity of this work. The work will be included in the archives of the Lyonel Feininger Project LLC, New York Berlin with the no. 1154-05-22-12 and in volume II of the catalogue raisonné of paintings by Lyonel Feininger, written by Achim Moeller.

Die Blaue Insel (The Blue Island) depicts a lone schooner heading over a black sea towards a sharply mountainous and angular blue isle. It is one of an extended series of paintings of ships and the sea that Feininger made regularly throughout his life and most frequently following his summers spent in the village of Deep on the Baltic coast. Painted in 1934, at the height of an extended period of isolation and austerity for Feininger following the closure of the Bauhaus and the repression of his art by the National Socialists, this Romantic image of a lone ship sailing towards a distant shore has an additional poignancy to its symbolism.

Since the closure of the Bauhaus, Feininger had been obliged to live between the coastal resort of Deep and Berlin. He worked little during this period and felt an increasing sense of isolation and alienation as the political repression of the Nazi regime took hold throughout the land. Increasingly, images of ships sailing to distant lands came to proliferate in his paintings. Archetypal symbols of hope and of the human spirit railing against the elements, ships were for Feininger a favourite and also particularly comforting subject which at this time must also have embodied a sense of escape from the troubles of the day. In early 1935 Feininger wrote to his wife Julia, 'About my work - except that I am working - I still think it best to preserve silence. I will only say that I am hopeful. (Hopeful! In a hopeless period of cultural history, in a land where all vital cultural elements are systematically persecuted, one is hopeful only for ones own endeavours.) But I come more and more to the realization that ability is of no use unless the spirit is strong. So let us keep a stout heart by all means and 'hope' all day long and even part of the night' (Lyonel Feininger, 'Letter March 29, 1935', quoted in J. Ness, ed., Lyonel Feininger, London, 1975, p. 238).

Feininger originally entitled The Blue Island in German, but this inscription, 'Die Blaue Insel', as his wife Julia pointed out, was subsequently removed. Feiningers growing sense of isolation from the land he had adopted as his home led to him gradually abandoning the German language at this time in much of his correspondence, resorting in favour to his English mother-tongue. After Feininger was obliged by a local landlord in Deep, in the Summer of 1935, not to share accommodation with his Jewish wife Julia, the Feiningers sought to leave Germany for good. In the Spring of 1936 he returned with his family to America.
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