Sailboats (Scène du port), ca. 1912
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 18 in. (54 x 46 cm)
Membership Purchase Fund
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Location: Floor 1, Bowers Gallery
The greatest liberating pictorial style of the twentieth century was the Cubism developed by Picasso and Braque in the first years of the century. For...
The greatest liberating pictorial style of the twentieth century was the Cubism developed by Picasso and Braque in the first years of the century. For some artists, it led to abstraction; for others, it was merely a style to be adapted to pre-existing approaches to picture making. For Metzinger, Cubism was a system by which multiple perspectives could be juxtaposed on a single plane; his almost monochromatic palette meant that the viewer is not distracted from the study of perspective. Metzinger was an early proponent of Cubism and wrote some of the first important theoretical essays on it. On Cubism, written in 1912 with his fellow Cubist Albert Gleizes, was the first theoretical work devoted to the new movement and played a major role in its recognition.
Metzinger himself often experimented with Cubist techniques, but his work differs from other Cubists in that his paintings retain a recognizable scene, here a landscape, a fairly rare subject for the early Cubists, with a system of mathematically calculated proportions, planes, and angles superimposed on it, like a grid. In the works of Picasso and Braque, small rectangular planes first go above, then below, then simply fade into other planes; Metzinger reduced his recognizable subjects into a series of rationally calculated and plotted planes, each laid over the other, as they move back in depth.
Because of concerns in the art community about Holocaust-related art, the Museum commissioned an undergraduate intern to spend over a year researching the files on all the European paintings, drawings, and sculpture in our collection. No references to any figures involved in crimes from that era were found, with one exception: the dealer from whom we bought this painting mentioned that it had once been owned by Léonce Rosenberg, a dealer in Paris between the World Wars whose stock was looted by the Nazis. We conducted further research, with that dealer (James Goodman) and with the Rosenberg family, through their representative, Hector Feliciano (The Lost Museum, 1998). This research suggests that the work was probably sold as part of Léonce Rosenberg’s normal business as an art dealer, rather than one of the looted paintings.