Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944)
Lot 35*
Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944) 'Au bord de la mer' ('Am Strande') image size 29 x 29cm (11 7/16 x 11 7/16in).; cardboard size 32.7 x 32.5cm (12 7/8 x 12 13/16in). unframed
Sold for £120,000 (US$ 152,960) inc. premium

Lot Details
(n/a) Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944)
'Au bord de la mer' ('Am Strande')
signed in Latin (lower left); verso further inscribed by the artist ‘No. 38 Tempera’, also with stamp of Société du Salon d’Automne, exhibition labels of L’vov State Picture Gallery, Tallinn Fine Art Museum and Alma-Ata Kazakh State Art Gallery
tempera on tan cardboard
image size 29 x 29cm (11 7/16 x 11 7/16in).; cardboard size 32.7 x 32.5cm (12 7/8 x 12 13/16in).


  • Provenance:
    Formerly in the collection of Yakov Evseevich Rubenstein, 1960s.

    Paris, Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées, Salon d’Automne, 15 October-15 November, 1904, no. 1509;
    L’vov, L’vov State Picture Gallery, April, 1958;
    Tallinn, Tallinn Fine Art Museum, Exhibition of paintings, drawings and watercolours by Russian artists of the first third of the twentieth century from the collection of Ya. E. Rubenstein, 1966;
    Alma-Ata, T. G. Shevchenko Kazakh State Art Gallery, Paintings and drawings by Russian artists of the first third of the twentieth century from the collection of Ya. E. Rubenstein, 1967.

    Hauskatalog der Farbigen Zeichnungen (the artist's Handlist of Coloured Drawings), no. 38;

    Exhibition catalogue, Société du Salon d'Automne, catalogue de peinture, dessin, sculpture, gravure, architecture et arts décoratifs, exposés au Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées du 15 octobre au 15 novembre 1904, Evreux, CH Herissey Imprimeur, no. 1509, p.135;

    Exhibition catalogue, Exhibition of paintings, drawings and watercolours by Russian artists of the first third of the twentieth century from the collection of Ya. E. Rubenstein, Tallin Fine Art Museum, Tallin, 1966, p. 12;

    Exhibition catalogue, Paintings and drawings by Russian artists of the first third of the twentieth century from the collection of Ya. E. Rubenstein, T. G. Shevchenko Kazakh State Art Gallery, Alma-Ata, 1966, p. 12;

    Barnett V. E., Kandinsky watercolours, Catalogue Raisonné, Volume One, 1900-1921, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1992, no. 110, p. 123.

    The present painting is an early example of Kandinsky's work. It was known to exist from the information in the artist's Handlist of Coloured Drawings (Hauskatalog der Farbigen Zeichnungen) where it was listed under no.38. There is also a colour woodcut inspired by the same composition. Both the 'colour drawing' (Kandinsky used this name for his small scale temperas and gouaches) and the gravure have the same title 'Am Strande'(On the shore).

    During this early period, it was typical for Kandinsky to repeat his compositions, with small alterations, in different mediums (gravure and tempera, in this case). For example, in his first album of gravures entitled Poetry without words (Moscow, Stroganoff School, 1904), almost all of the compositions have been repeated as paintings. It is worth noting that some of the paintings preceded the gravures and others were created afterwards, in 1905-1906. In the catalogue raisonné of printed works, H. Roethel suggested that the work mentioned in the Handlist under no. 38 is directly related to the gravure with the same title. He also refers to an old photograph of the gravure, which was titled on the verso in the artist's hand 'Au bord de la mer' (see Roethel, Kandinsky. Das Graphische Werk, Koln, 1970. p. 10). The present work confirms his suggestions as there is an inscription on the reverse done by the artist 'No. 38… Tempera'.

    Roethel's suggestion is helpful in determining the early history of work. In Kandinsky's notebook of 1910 (sheet 19, Museum of Contemporary Art, Centre of George Pompidou, Paris, Inv. 188h) there is a list of works that were exhibited at the Salon d’Automne in Paris at the end of 1904. Listed under no. 6 there is a work entitled ‘Au bord de la mer’ (no. 1509 according to the printed catalogue of the Salon) by which there is an explanatory note indicating that this is number 38 in his Handlist. This proves that it was the present work that was exhibited at the Salon d’Automne. The circular stamp of the Société du Salon d’Automne of 1904 on the verso of the offered lot also verifies this.

    The present work is further listed under no. 110 in the catalogue raisonné of V. Barnett (see Barnett V.E., Kandinsky watercolours. Catalogue raisonné. Vol. I (1900-1921), Cornell University Press, 1992. no. 110, p. 123. According to V. Barnett, the work was sold after its appearance at the Salon. Subsequently, the painting appeared in the collection of a well-known Moscow collector, Yakov Evseevich Rubenstein, in the 1960s. Throughout 1966-1967 the painting was exhibited in a travelling exhibition of works from the Rubenstein collection, which travelled to Tallin, Vilnius, Vologda, L'vov, Alma-Ata, Novokuznetsk and Novosibirsk. In the accompanying catalogues, the work was titled 'Woman before the sea' and its medium stated as gouache. There are exhibition labels of L'vov, Tallin and Alma-Ata Art Museums on the verso of the painting. Rubenstein's collection included some other works by Kandinsky, notably a self-portrait of the artist in ink.

    The offered lot is very similar to other works belonging to Kandinsky's 'elegant' series of 1904-1906. It is comparable in terms of the manner of brush work: elongated brush-strokes pick out the surface of the bench and the folds of the sitter's dress, set into relief by short, staccato brush-strokes in the background. The use of tanned cardboard is also characteristic of works in this particular series.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that Vivian Barnett of the Catalogue Raisonné Committee of the Societe Kandinsky, has examined this work and stated that this lot is authentic and will be included and illustrated in an addendum to the catalogue raisonné.
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