Piet Mondrian - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Wednesday, November 16, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "I enjoyed painting flowers, not bouquets, but a single flower at a time, in order that I might better express its plastic structure."
    —Piet Mondrian, 1942
    A rare precursor to the gridded and colorful canvases which would come to make Piet Mondrian a household name, Iris Bloom in Bud Vase, executed circa 1909-1910, reveals both the artist’s skills as a draughtsman, as well as his almost obsessive character. Here we can see clearly the beginnings of the geometric artist’s fascination with structure, composition, and form that came to define his practice. Moreover, the drawing, part of a larger series of naturalist drawings and paintings that he began in the first decade of the 20th century and returned to later, offers a unique insight into an artist whose more famous works deny representation.

    "I too find flowers beautiful in their exterior beauty; yet there is hidden within a deeper beauty."
    —Piet Mondrian
    Scholars have debated the reason for Mondrian's sustained interest in natural forms. In art deco imagery, which was flourishing at the time this work was made, the beauty of flowers and women was often equated. Artists like Odilon Redon reveled in this theme, depicting women surrounded by flowers, making both equitable objects of the male gaze. Mondrian instead focused on the single floral form, highlighting its soft subtleties and innocence without human presence. His obsession with flora has also been attributed to his contemporaneous entrance into the Theosophical Society, whose symbolism revolved around nature.i British painter Bridget Riley meanwhile sees Mondrian’s desire to depict the world around him as a simple part of the artist’s progression.ii Whatever the reason, Mondrian’s singular Iris deserves attention for its beautiful rendering, detailed marks, and the unique opportunity it presents to look beyond the renowned artist’s abstraction.


    i Robert P. Welsh, Piet Mondrian Catalogue Raisonné, New York, 1998, p. 396.
    ii Bridget Riley, Mondrian Nature to Abstraction, exh. cat, Tate Modern, London, 1997.

    • Provenance

      Marguerite and Howard Cullman, New York
      Thence by descent to the present owner

Property from the Estate of Marguerite Cullman


Iris Bloom in Bud Vase

signed with the artist’s initials “PM” lower right
pencil on paper
22 x 11 in. (55.9 x 27.9 cm)
Executed circa 1909-1910.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for $138,600

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 16 November 2022