Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Paul Klee (1879-1940)

Brutaler Pierrot

Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Brutaler Pierrot
signed 'Klee' (lower right), titled, numbered and dated '1927UE.6. brutaler Pierrot' (on the artist's mount)
watercolour, pen and black ink on paper laid down on the artist's mount
12 3/8 x 11 7/8in. (31.5 x 30.2cm.) image
15 3/4 x 15in. (40 x 38.1cm.) mount
Executed in 1927
Galerie Neue Kunst Fides (Rudolf Probst), Mannheim/Dresden (1928-9)
Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin (1931)
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paris
The Mayor Gallery, London (1935)
Sir Michael Sadler, Oxford
Richard Dembeck, London
Marlborough Fine Art, London
Moderne Galerie Otto Stangl, Munich
Galerie d'Art Moderne, Basel
Anon. sale, Stuttgarter Kunstkabinett, 29 May 1952, lot 1998
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 23 October 1963, lot 95
Marlborough Fine Art, London, from whom acquired by the grandparents of the present owners in 1966

M. Plant, Paul Klee: Figures and Faces, London 1978, p. 120 (illustrated in colour).
Brussels, Galerie L'Epoque, Paul Klee: 40 Aquarelles, March-April 1928, no. 39.
Basel, Kunsthalle, Bauhaus Dessau: J. Albers, L. Feininger, W. Kandinsky, P. Klee, O. Schlemmer, April-May 1929, no. 116.
Dusseldorf, Kunstverein fr die Rheinlande und Westfalen & Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Paul Klee, June-July 1931, no. 189.
London, The Mayor Gallery, Paul Klee, June 1935, no. 18.
London, Leicester Galleries, Paul Klee, March 1941, no. 29.
London, Marlborough Fine Art, Paul Klee, June-July 1966, no. 31 (illustrated p. 43).

Lot Essay

This work is recorded under number 1927, 286 (Ue 6) in the artist's Werkkatalog at the Paul Klee Stiftung, Bern.

Executed in 1927 while Klee was teaching at the Bauhaus in Dessau, the present work is a highly charismatic portrait from Klee's own unique universe of his imagination. Resembling the tearful clown with the mind of a child and the body of a man from the Comedia dell'Arte, Klee's Pierrot is a somewhat more tragic character than the original.

Shown stumbling from the left hand side of the picture, this sad-eyed character has an expression that conveys a sense of being accustomed to his own clumsiness and his tragic fate. With one arm displaying a comic mitten with a hand print on it, he appears to be waving, while in stark contrast, his other arm is represented by a wooden stump. With these two attributes, this Pierrot presents both his amiability and his wound. The absence of the one hand and, the covering of another, is perhaps intended to express Pierrot's tragic destiny and the perennial sufferer of unrequited love.

Painted on an exquisite mottled background, Klee delineates this tragi-comic character in elegant sweeping black lines and accentuates the sense of motion in the picture by framing the watercolour in black ink on all sides except the right hand side which is left open. This sense of motion is carried into the picture in a fluid form through the fine curving lines that, in the manner of a dancing calligraphy, construct the peculiar forms that together add up to create this striking image.

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