After Fernand Léger - Design New York Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Phillips
  • Lauded for his exceptional contributions to the Cubist art movement, Fernand Léger’s work has stood the test of time on canvas as well as on tapestries, thanks in part to his patron Marie Cuttoli. Working in the early 20th century in Paris, Cuttoli recruited Léger in her movement to revive France’s dormant tapestry industry. Through her marriage to a wealthy politician and art collector from Algeria, Cuttoli discovered an affinity for Algerian weaving styles and dreamed of using the medium to bring a new edge to the modern art market in Paris. Though it was common for artists to translate their paintings into tapestries during the Renaissance, the practice had since diminished; Cuttoli reinvigorated the market and gave fine art tapestries an international status through her marketing and exhibitions. First opening her fashion house, Myrbor, on the rue Vignon in Paris, she began by primarily selling women’s textiles and eventually opened an interior design department to begin selling her rugs. By way of her husband being a collector of modern art, she was able to begin conversations with prominent painters such as Picasso, Miró, and Léger, recruiting them to commit their paintings to fiber. At first Cuttoli’s push towards the modernization of tapestry was met with confusion and hesitation by artists and buyers alike—the mixing of modern and abstract designs with the traditional fiber medium felt sacrilegious to many and an offense towards an ancient tradition as well as the innovation of abstraction. However, her inventive act was eventually welcomed, and in a 1936 Harper’s Bazaar’s article Cuttoli was described as “giving a good jolt to tradition.” Moreover, it was welcomed by artists as a means of finding new modes of representation by experimenting with abstraction through a different medium. Her influence in the tapestry industry gained international recognition with a 1939 exhibition of her tapestries in the San Francisco Museum of Art, and later through an acquisition of Miró tapestries by Phillip Johnson for the Seagram Building in Manhattan.


    Ady Fidelin, Marie Cuttoli, Paul Cuttoli, Man Ray, Picasso and Dora Maar, 1937.

    The present work after a design by Léger is an excellent example of how Cuttoli champion the practice of combining modern forms with an age-old craft, giving a new depth to Léger’s traditional style. The modern geometric forms with an industrial feel are emblematic of Léger’s personal style of “tubism” in which he frequently utilized overlapping angular motifs in his work. Moreover, the use of primary colors is typical of Léger’s paintings. The mobility and texture of the medium give Léger’s graphic artistry a new softness, providing a new visual language for cubism that differed from the traditionally static and angular canvases.


    The present design in the entryway of Mari Cuttoli’s apartment on rue de Babylone, 1947.

    In the 1960s, Marie Cutolli collaborated with Galerie Lucie Weill in Paris to re-release some of the earlier designs produced by Mybor. The present carpet belongs to this production range. Whereas the earlier examples produced by Myrbor were marked as such, the present example is marked with the artist’s first initial and last name on the reverse. 

    • Provenance

      Private collection, Virginia, acquired 2009
      Thence by descent to the present owner, 2011

    • Literature

      Mildred Constantine and Albert Chatelet, An Exhibition of Contemporary French Tapestries, New York, 1965, p. 28
      Jacques Sirat and Françoise Siriex, Tapis Français du XXe Siècle, de l'Art Nouveau aux Créations Contemporaines, Paris, 1993, p. 93
      Dominique Paulvé, Marie Cuttoli: Myrbor et l'invention de la tapisserie moderne, Paris, 2010, p. 80

Property from a Private Collection, Colorado


"Jaune No. 9" carpet

designed circa 1927, produced 1960s
92 1/2 x 45 in. (235 x 114.3 cm)
Produced by Marie Cuttoli and Galerie Lucie Weill, Paris, France. Reverse embroidered F. LEGER and with fabric label with specifications.

Full Cataloguing

$6,000 - 8,000 

Sold for $26,670

Contact Specialist

Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist
Associate Head of Sale
+1 917 207 9090


New York Auction 5 December 2023