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fernand léger (1881-1955) – la grande margot

Sold for SEK 780.000 at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale 11-14 June 2019

Lot 594. Fernand Léger (France 1881‑1955). La grande Margot. Signed with monogram and dated F.L. -50. Gouache, 48 x 37 cm.

A photocertificate of authenticity signed and dated by Maurice Jardot, Galerie Louise Leiris Paris le 23/12/71 on behalf of Madame Nadia Léger is included with this lot.


400.000 – 500.000 SEK
€ 38.000 – 47.000


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris.
The collection of Jack Levinovitz (1928‑2018), Stockholm.

In context

Fernand Léger’s La grande Margot

Depicting the female became one of the corner steps of Fernand Léger’s artistry. Throughout his career the female figure appears in various poses in his paintings, from his early ground-breaking works created around 1910 to the end of his long and productive life in the mid 1950’s. The female in Léger’s works is strong and powerful. She is always depicted straight-forward, her contours painted in his characteristic black lines with her black hair as a complementing frame around her face. She is without doubt one of the most recognizable and appreciated motifs of one of our most talented modern masters. Léger never searched for a realistic true-to-life experience in his paintings, he was a great innovator that with his stylistic challenges contributed to the development of the modern art. With his own words:

”The feat of superbly imitating a muscle, as Michelangelo did, or a face, as Raphael did, created neither progress nor a hierarchy in art. Because these artists of the sixteenth century imitated human forms, they were not superior to the artists of the high periods of Egyptian, Chaldean, Indochinese, Roman, and Gothic art who interpreted and stylized form but did not imitate it.”

Speaking about modernism without mentioning the name Fernand Léger would not be possible. As one of the important innovators of this new movement in art that emerged, primarily in Paris around the time when the world turned into a new century, Léger has forever his name printed in every book that covers the modern history of art. Paris was at this time a city that flourished with inspiration and a great aspire to make a difference. Following the innovations in science, technique, literature, philosophy and the industrial revolution, art also experienced its own revolution. In the footsteps of the impressionists and symbolists a new generation of artists searched for new forms of expressions and made a radical break with the past. Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Derain and Léger were all pioneers that developed a new imagery and created artworks that reflected the hopes of modern societies.

“La grande Margot” was created in the year of 1950. At this time, Fernand Léger had experienced decades of success and established his reputation as one of the most important modern painters. He had returned to France, after spending the years during the World War II in the States. In this painting the viewer faces the beautiful stylistic Margot. With a few strong colours and lines he creates a great impression in a very simple way. Surrounded by the blue background, with the red collar around her neck, nothing else is needed. In a powerful way this accentuates the face and hands of the female that is, of course, painted in black. This is exactly how Léger were building his works, with contrasting colours and lines: ”I organize the opposition between colours, lines and curves. I set curves against straight lines, patches of colour against plastic forms, pure colours against subtly nuanced shades of grey.”

This painting was originally acquired from the famous Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris, from where a signed photocertificate is included in the sale. The motif “La grande Margot” also exists as a colour lithograph published by Galerie Louise Leiris in 1951, as well as in a ceramic edition. ”Colour is a human need like water and fire. It is a raw material indispensable to life”, said the artist who dedicated his life to art. This offers a great opportunity to acquire a characteristic work by a true master.

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