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Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A LONDON COLLECTION
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)

Fortuna

Details
Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)
Fortuna
signed 'OK' (lower left) and dated '1915' (upper right)
oil on canvas
27 1/8 x 22 cm. (68.9 x 55.8 cm.)
Painted in 1914-1915
Provenance
Adolf Neufeld, Vienna.
Herbert von Garvens-Garvensburg, Hannover, by circa 1921.
Willi Kahnheimer, Berlin until 1935 and London thereafter, by whom acquired in the 1920s-1930s, and thence by descent to the present owner.
Literature
Der Querschnitt, vol. 1, no. 4/5, Dusseldorf, September 1921, p. 174 (illustrated).
K. Scheffler, 'Die Akademie der Künste, die Berliner Sezession und Anderes', in Kunst und Künstler, vol. 20, no. 10, Berlin, July 1922, pp. 359-360 (illustrated p. 361).
C. Einstein, Die Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, Berlin, 1926 (illustrated p. 449, titled 'Allegorie').
E. Hoffmann, Kokoschka, Life and Work, London, 1947, no. 100.
H.M. Wingler, Oskar Kokoschka, The Work of the Painter, Salzburg, 1958, no. 103 (illustrated p. 305, dated '1915').
J. Winkler & K. Erling, Oskar Kokoschka, Die Gemälde, 1906-1929, Salzburg, 1995, no. 113 (illustrated p. 67).
A. Weidinger, Kokoschka and Alma Mahler, New York, 1996, p.70-71 (illustrated p. 71).
A. Weidinger & A. Strobl, Oskar Kokoschka, Die Zeichnungen und Aquarelle 1897-1916, Salzburg, 2008, no. V.660a (illustrated p. 426).
Exhibited
Dresden, Künstlervereinigung, Sommer-Ausstellung, Summer 1921.
Hannover, Galerie von Garvens, Neuerwerbungen 1920/21, 7. Ausstellung, May - June 1921 (illustrated).
Berlin, Akademie der Künste, Frühjahrsausstellung, Spring, 1922.
Mannheim, Städtische Kunsthalle, Oskar Kokoschka, January - March 1931, no. 26.
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.

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India Phillips
India Phillips

Lot Essay

'I was too small to bear great joy. But with time I will acquire the stature needed to bring up that small joy (my promised little boy), who in turn will then grow to have the capacity for unending joy, not like us, who are only able to pull a face and clench our fists when Fortuna, sober yet of good cheer, invites us to make a life-short flight across the glassy globe (O. Kokoschka, letter to A. Mahler, late July 1914, quoted in A. Weidinger, Kokoschka and Alma Mahler, Munich and New York, 1996, p. 69-70).

Its whereabouts long unknown, Fortuna was painted by Oscar Kokoschka during the period 1914-15, amidst the outbreak of the First World War. It was quite possibly inspired by the statue of Fortuna gracing the Dogana in Venice, which Kokoschka may have seen on his trip to Italy in 1913, as well as by Albrecht Dürer's engraving Nemesis (The Great Fortune), which was well-known at the time. Here we are presented with the arresting image of Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fortune and personification of luck, standing atop a globe which hovers above a distant landscape. An allegory of fortune and fate, it appears to depict Alma Mahler, Kokoschka's lover at the time, who is represented as the nude Fortuna (Ibid).

Mahler's personification as Fortuna indicates the central role she then occupied in Kokoschka's life. She is thus representing someone whose fate is inextricably linked to his and who, in the artist's eyes, is in control of his destiny. Kokoschka had met Mahler, the widow of the composer Gustav Mahler, in 1912. Enchanted by her, he proposed just three days after their first meeting. Their ensuing tempestuous three year relationship proved a fundamental inspiration for many of Kokoschka's great works of the period, including Fortuna. Kokoschka and Mahler's relationship ended when, in January 1915, the artist went off to fight in the First World War. That same year, Mahler rekindled her relationship with the architect Walter Gropius whom she married in secret in August of 1915.

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