Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957)
Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957)

Allegorical Composition

Details
Pavel Tchelitchew (1898-1957)
Allegorical Composition
oil and tempera on canvas
31 1/8 x 25¼ in. (79 x 64.1 cm.)
Painted circa 1936-1937
Provenance
Edward James, West Dean, West Sussex (by 1963); Estate sale, Christie's, New York, 6 October 1988, lot 93.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Exhibited
Worthing Art Gallery, Paintings from the Collection of Edward James, October-November 1963, no. 49.
Edinburgh, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, The Edward James Collection, Dalí, Magritte and other Surrealists, August-September 1976, p. 10, no. 44 (illustrated, p. 20; titled Allegorical scene on a beach).

Brought to you by

David Kleiweg de Zwaan
David Kleiweg de Zwaan

Lot Essay

We are grateful to Mr. Erik La Prade for his assistance in cataloguing this work.


The present work was one of a number of studies and portraits made in preparation for the large-scale metaphysical painting Phenomena of 1936-1938 and gives us important insight into how Tchelitchew created one of his most iconic paintings. Allegorical Composition relates to the upper left hand corner of the finished painting. The two figures sitting on the ground are Gertrude Stein and her companion Alice Tolkas, also referred to as "Sitting Bull and the Knitting Maniac." An alternate title for this study is Guardians of the Threshold. In the finished picture, Stein and Tolkas symbolize hoarders, sitting upon and guarding their famous painting collection.
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