In 1916 Bart van der Leck met Piet Mondriaan (1872-1944) who, with his strict ordering of horizontals and verticals, his abstraction and rhythmic system of lines and planes, made a great impression on him. This meeting led to an abrupt and fundamental change in Van der Leck's style, who became co-founder of De Stijl in 1917. Although the neo-plastic idea must have helped Bart van der Leck to execute his artistic ideas, Piet Mondriaan's and Theo Van Doesburg's (1883-1931) radical and philosophically based method of abstraction did, in the end, not satisfy Van der Leck. By the end of 1918 he decided not to sign the De Stijl manifest. After 1921 Van der Leck no longer made totally abstract paintings. It is very likely that financial considerations played a role in this decision. Mrs. Kröller-Müller, one of his main supporters in the early years, did not welcome his move towards total abstraction.
From 1922 until 1931 Van der Leck mainly depended on the allowance he received on a regular basis from the art critic Hendricus Petrus Bremmer. In those years nearly every painting he produced was sent to Bremmer who in his turn tried to find a buyer among his rich art pupils. Often Bremmer did suggestions about sizes and subject matters, stating for instance that '(...) large dimensions are difficult to hang and to sell'. In a letter from 26 May 1922 Bremmer suggests Van der Leck: '(...) eens iets te maken naar aanleiding van witte lelies of van Aronskelken' (see: C. Hilhorst, Vriendschap op afstand. De correspondentie tussen Bart van der Leck en H.P. Bremmer, Bussum, 1999, p. 125). In his reply of 2 June 1922, Van der Leck takes up the challenge and writes his patron 'Van lelies of kelken maak ik zeker iets; een opgaaf is me altijd welkom; als ik eens voor zoo'n opgaaf niks voel zeg ik het wel of ik maak er niets voor, maar ik geloof ook dat ik alles kan maken' (see: Hilhorst, p. 126). And so he did, according to the paintings of lilies and arums Van der Leck made in the 1920's. The preliminary study for a similar composition (Abstract composition, 1927, now in the Museum of Modern Art, New York) shows a realistic image of flowers (fig. 1)(sold in these rooms on 4 December 2001, lot 212). Van der Leck would abstract the content, form and composition of the arums. The colours are no longer derived from the real world; the colour fields are distributed over the white background in such way that they, colour by colour, form the vertices of floral tangrams. The flower paintings rapidly became a financial success for Van der Leck, a success which he fairly shared with his patron Bremmer.