André Derain - Arlequin tenant une guitare - image-1

Lot 20 N

André Derain - Arlequin tenant une guitare

Auction 1187 - overview Cologne
03.12.2021, 18:00 - Evening Sale - Modern and Contemporary Art
Estimate: 140.000 € - 160.000 €
Result: 125.000 € (incl. premium)

André Derain

Arlequin tenant une guitare
Circa 1930

Oil on canvas 116.3 x 89 cm Framed. Unsigned. - In very fine condition, two very minor retouches to lower right margin.

André Derain moved to Paris in 1907, and he quickly became involved in the circle of avant-garde artists. In 1916 he exhibited his work at the Galerie Paul Guillaume for the first time. After the end of World War I, Sergei Diaghilev commissioned him to create the set design for a ballet, and the painter was also still developing set and costume designs for the Paris Opera in the 1930s. It was presumably in this context that he became interested in the characters of the commedia dell'arte and dramaturgical pictorial concepts.
In the mid-1920s he created images of the characters Pierrot and Harlequin, for example: “Pierrot et Arlequin” and “Arlequin à la guitare” (see exh. cat. André Derain, Grand Palais 1977, cat. nos. 38, 39). With the figure's life-size format and his being set off effectively against a cloud-filled sky, Derain has reduced the narrative aspect in the later painting presented here. Thus, our Harlequin is neither wearing his typical chequered costume nor playing music on his guitar. Standing parallel to the picture plane, the figure is turned towards the viewers - addressing them with the Christological gesture of his hand as well as universal questions of human existence. Here the playful aspect of the 1924 composition has been replaced by a contemplative, inward reflection. The reduction to just a few colours and the clarity of the figure and composition provide this Harlequin with a form of classical sublimity and universality which make the work still seem extremely modern and relevant today.
Like many of Derain's works, this one was also owned by the Parisian gallerist Paul Guillaume, champion of the French avant-garde, whose collection was purchased by the state following his death and has found its final home in the Musée de l'Orangerie. Our painting, on the other hand, became the property of Swedish bank director Martin Aronowitsch at an early date and subsequently that of his son Gregor, who studied art history in France in the early 1930s. In retrospect this provenance underscores the importance already attributed to this magnificent painting shortly after its completion.

Catalogue Raisonné

Kellermann 1246 (full-page colour ill. p. 243)


Paul Guillaume, Paris; Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm; Martin Aronowitsch, Stockholm; Grégor Aronowitsch, Stockholm; Private collection; Christie's London, 28 Nov. 1988, lot 22; Private collection, Switzerland; Christie's London, 24 June 2015, lot 391; Private collection, England


Konstrevy journal, Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, 1933, illustrated on p. 33; J. Baschet, Au temps des Fauves, in: L'Illustration, 9 March 1935, p. 283 with ill.; B.G. Wennerg, Mon oeuvre d'Art la plus précieuse, Malmö 1942, p. 150 with ill.; G. Aronowitsch, Bukowski – mitt öde, Stockholm, 1968, illustrated on p.158


Stockholm 1954 (Liljevalchs Konsthall), Cézanne till Picasso. Fransk konst i svensk ägo, no. 109 ("Tsigane à la guitare"); Bordeaux 1967 (Galerie des Beaux-Arts), La peinture francaise en Suède, Hommage à Alexander Roslin et à Adolf Ulrik Wertmüller, p. 65, no. 70 ("Tsigane à la guitare")