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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION, SWITZERLAND

Kubistisch Stilleven

Kubistisch Stilleven
signed with the artist's monogram (lower left)
oil on canvas
32 3/8 x 22 5/8 in. (82.3 x 57.5 cm.)
Painted circa 1917
Galerie Trompenburgh, Wijdemeren.
Private collection, The Netherlands, by whom acquired from the above; sale, Christie's, Amsterdam, 13 June 2017, lot 228.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, Piet Mondriaan en Bart van der Leck. De uitvinding van een nieuwe kunst, February - May 2017.
Special notice
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.
Post lot text
We would like to thank Carole Denninger for her help in cataloguing this lot.

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Annie Wallington
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Lot Essay

Between 1901 and 1902, the landscape painter A.J. (‘Tom’) Grootens took the young Theo van Doesburg under his wing and gave him his first painting lessons. At that time, both teacher and pupil were inspired by the style of the Amsterdam Impressionists such as George Hendrik Breitner. A few years later, in 1906, Grootens moved to the city of Haarlem and could follow the developments of his former pupil by reading Van Doesburg’s articles and opinion pieces on the rapid developments in the arts in the early 1900s. In 1914, when Van Doesburg enrolled for military service, Grootens became a member of the Haarlem branch of the Theosofische Vereniging. As an artist, he was searching for a more modern expression, working towards more simple and stylized shapes, which he applied both in his graphic work as well as in his paintings and drawings. Other artists who were inspired by the ideas of theosophy, such as Erich Wichman and Janus de Winter, exhibited their works at an exhibition organised by the newly founded Nieuwe Haarlemse Kunstkring in 1915, providing further inspiration to Grootens.

In 1916, Van Doesburg and Grootens reconnected, as the former temporarily moved to Haarlem. Van Doesburg founded a new artist’s society with Wichmanand Louis Saalborn, called ‘De Anderen’. Whilst looking for an exhibition space, Van Doesburg visited the gallery ‘Kunstzalen d’Audretsch’ in The Hague, where he saw a travelling exhibition from the collection of Herwarth Walden, a gallery owner in Berlin and the editor of the art magazine Der Sturm. The artist was impressed by the vibrant animal paintings of Franz Marc and the abstract still life of Emil Filla. Whilst reading Der Sturm, Van Doesburg learned that it was the French painter Paul Cézanne who was the founder of the new movement in the arts, especially when it comes to Cubism. All forms in the nature could be traced back to geometrical forms: the rectangle, the triangle, the square, the circle, the cylinder and the cone.

Theo van Doesburg first applied his interpretation of the teachings of Cézanne in his Composition I (Still Life) from 1916 (see Els Hoek, Theo van Doesburg oeuvre catalogus, Utrecht/Otterlo, 2000, no. 470), which he exhibited with ‘De Anderen’, where it was acquired by H.P. Bremmer, the art advisor of Hélène Kröller Müller. In the same year, Van Doesburg painted a portrait of his former teacher Grootens, describing him as 'my former teacher and now a student of mine'. Grootens was fascinated by Van Doesburg’s still lives based on Cézanne’s techniques, which with their triangular compositions also answered to the theosophical idea of evolution. In his own work he experimented with colourful abstractions in oil and watercolour, using triangular shapes and colourful circles, the latter inspired by the disques simultanés of Robert Delaunay. Three of these abstract experiments were exhibited at the first exhibition of the De Sphinx, an artist’s society in Leiden, in 1917.

In July 1917, Grootens organized an exhibition of his work in the Tijdingzaal in his hometown Haarlem, showing the three works that were exhibited in Leiden, but also a painting which he described as a 'somewhat cubistic still life', which is very likely to be the present lot. If this still life is indeed the present lot, the painting must have been acquired at the exhibition itself or shortly thereafter as no reference of the work has been found in later literature or exhibitions until the 2017 exhibition celebrating 100 years of De Stijl in the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague.

Although Grootens had kept himself informed about the new De Stijl movement, he distanced himself from his former pupil Theo van Doesburg and fellow De Stijl member Piet Mondrian, when the latter artists aimed for a total abstraction circa 1918.

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