Eric Mouchet has confirmed the authenticity of this work.
Le Corbusier developed the purist movement in tandem with the painter Amedée Ozenfant, whom he had first met when he moved to Paris in 1916 at the age of 29. Le Corbusier's and Ozenfant's purism was a direct reaction against cubism, which they saw as too irrational and romantic, and against the development of decorative elements within its once pure language. The two artists established the journal L'Esprit Nouveau in 1920, in which they advocated the use of modern industrial techniques to transform the standard of urban living, an idea that developed the rallying cry "Architecture or Revolution!". Echoing Le Corbusier's basic architectural principles, both he and Ozenfant advocated a modernisation and mechanisation of art, in which form is subject to proportional and ideal systems. Thus objects are represented in a purely conceptual manner, tending towards abstraction and nearing a pure compositional synthesis of elements, always based on an underlying framework of squares, symmetry and the golden section.
The present lot, in the same private collection since 1972, is a preparatory study for Le Corbusier’s purist masterpiece of the same year, the oil Nature morte verticale I, painted for the 1923 Salon des Indépendants. Nature morte verticale I, as suggested by the title of the work, was the artist’s first purist work to be painted in a tall and relatively narrow vertical format, compared to the typically landscape format of earlier works. The artist used this to create very clear vertical lines in the composition, a centre line and juxtaposed bottles and the body of a violin. Clear horizontal lines are developed by the table on which the objects are placed, and the different levels of liquids in the bottles. The sense of depth is created by the juxtaposition of numerous bottles, and the modelling and transparency of their surfaces.
Another sketch for Nature morte verticale I was drawn on a preparatory print for the title page of the book Où en est l’urbanisme en France et à l’étranger. Le Centre des grandes villes, of 1923, and similarities can be drawn between the soaring and multi-layered vertical format of the composition and the growing New York skyline that was fascinating the artist at this time (see N. & J-P. Jornod, Le Corbusier Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, vol. I, Milan, 2005, pp. 382-383).