Alexej Jawlensky - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Monday, February 8, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    The Artist's Estate
    Galerie Krugier, Geneva, 1963
    Acquired from the above by the grandfather of the present owner, 1960s

  • Exhibited

    Geneva, Galerie Krugier, Jawlensky, February 1963, no. 13

  • Literature

    C. Weiler, Alexei Jawlensky, Koln: Verlag M. Dumont Schauberg, 1959, no. 75, p.232 (illustrated)
    C. Weiler, Jawlensky Heads Faces Meditations, Verlag M. Dumont Schauberg, 1970, no. 77 (illustrated)
    M Jawlensky et al, Alexej von Jawlensky: Catalogue Raisonne of Oil Paintings Volume One 1890-1914, Milan: Electa, 1991, no. 391, p. 317 pp. 493 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Alexej Jawlensky painted Junges Madchen Mit Zopf in 1911, the year which he himself considered to be the great watershed of his career. This painting sings with bold colour. The skin tones have been invoked through reds and pinks that reveal an inner glow, revealing the spiritual undercurrent that informed this new development in Jawlensky's pictures.

    With its charged palette and rigorous simplification of forms, Junges Madchen Mit Zopf can be seen as a precursor to Jawlensky's serial works, which he began a few years later and in which he codified the human face in works that are icon-like meditations. Already in Junges Madchen Mit Zopf, the viewer can perceive Jawlensky's belief that, 'For me the face is not just a face but the whole universe. In the face the whole universe becomes manifest’ (Jawlensky, quoted in Clemens Weiler, Jawlensky: Heads, Faces, Meditations, London, 1971, p. 56).

    By the time he painted Junges Madchen Mit Zopf, Jawlensky was already a figurehead in the avant garde in his adopted home, Munich. He had moved there some years earlier with his friend Marianne von Werefkin and Helene Neznakomova, who would later become his wife and was the model for a large number of his paintings. Originally, Jawlensky had been in the army in his native Russia, before training as an artist and moving to Germany. There, the spiritual dimension that he brought to painting saw him emerge as a key figure at the cutting edge of German Expressionism. He, alongside his friend and compatriot Wassily Kandinsky, would become members of the celebrated Blau Reiter group after breaking away from the Neue Künstlervereinigung Munich they had earlier founded.

    In the years before he painted Junges Madchen Mit Zopf, Jawlensky had holidayed with Kandinsky several times in Murnau, where they would work alongside each other. This had made a profound impression on them. Colour and spirituality had come increasingly to the fore, with the artist distilling a range of influences from Paul Cézanne's interest in form to Paul Gauguin's spirituality and Henri Matisse's Fauvism. It was thus over the span of a number of years that Jawlensky's signature colourism, so in evidence in Junges Madchen Mit Zopf, had gestated. However, these ideas all converged around the time that Junges Madchen Mit Zopf was painted, as Jawlensky himself recalled in terms that appear to relate to this picture:

    'In the Spring of 1911 Marianne Werefkin, Andrej, Helene and I went to Prerow on the Baltic. For me that summer meant a great step forward in my art. I painted my finest landscapes there as well as large figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours not at all naturalistic or objective. I used a great deal of red, blue, orange, cadmium yellow and chromium-oxide green. My forms were very strongly contoured in Prussian blue and came with tremendous power from an inner ecstasy… It was a turning-point in my art. It was in these years, up to 1914 just before the war, that I painted my most powerful works’ (Jawlensky, quoted in 'Memoir dictated to Lisa Kümmel, Wiesbaden, 1937’, pp. 25-33 in M. Jawlensky, L. Peroni-Jawlensky and A. Jawlensky (ed.), Alexej von Jawlensky: Catalogue Raisonné of the Oil Paintings: Volume I 1890-1914, London, 1991, p. 31).

Property of a Distinguished European Family Collection

Ο ◆32

Junges Madchen Mit Zopf

oil on card laid down on board
72 x 49 cm (28 3/8 x 19 1/4 in.)
Signed 'A. Jawlensky' on the lower left. Further signed, titled and dated 'A. Jawlensky "Junges Madchen Mit Zopf" 1911' on the reverse.

£2,000,000 - 3,000,000 

Sold for £2,210,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London

+44 207 318 4063

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 9 February 2016 7pm