ROBERT DELAUNAY (1885-1941) La Tour Eiffel 15 11/16 x 10 3/4in. (39.8 x 27.3cm)
Lot 35
La Tour Eiffel 15 11/16 x 10 3/4in. (39.8 x 27.3cm)
Sold for US$ 179,000 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
La Tour Eiffel
signed and dated 'r. delaunay 1911' (lower left); signed, dated and inscribed 'R. delaunay 11 p19' (on the reverse)
pen and black ink with traces of gray wash on paper
15 11/16 x 10 3/4in. (39.8 x 27.3cm)
Drawn in 1911


    Herwarth Walden.
    Galerie Alice Manteau, Paris.
    Private Collection, Spain.
    Acquired from the above by the present owner.

    Galería de Arte Manuel Barbié and R. Riss, Robert Delaunay: Tours Eiffel [published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the French Embassy in Madrid in 2008], Amsterdam, 2008, p. 214, no. 6 (illustrated in color), and p. 252, no. RD.TOUR.C6.

    The attribution to Robert Delaunay has been confirmed by Jean-Louis Delaunay and Richard Riss.

    Although hardly the first or the last artist to take inspiration from the Eiffel Tower, Robert Delaunay's exploration of the possibilities of the landmark seen through the prism of Neo-Impressionist and Cubist sensibilities make his Tour series one of his most enduring creations. The tower was an emblem of the ambition and technical mastery of the modern world, a symbol of confidence in the new century always visible above the city. Yet by combining many viewpoints, simultaneously melding and fragmenting the image, Delaunay declares the mastery of the Cubist approach over the boldness of the structure itself.

    Delaunay began to explore this feat of engineering in 1910, the year of his marriage to the artist Sonia Terk. These first works, such as Tour Eiffel (1911, although dated 1910 by the artist, Solomon R. Guggenheim Founding Collection) and indeed the present drawing, pry the structure apart from every angle. The artist plays with both perspective and the void spaces - changing the position of the viewer slightly as if to walk them back out of the painted picture plane and into a position within the image, where rather than stand below the tower, one stands on the same plane as the structure. The presentation of the tower's foundation and grounding elements aids in guiding and centering the viewer towards a place where is possible to contemplate and analytically deconstruct the monument. Meanwhile the use of omission, seen in the uncluttered patches of clouds engulfing the tower, act as a highlight and a sharp contrast to the intricacy of the monument.

    Seen clearly in both its delicate shading and the forcefully controlled use of line, Tour Eiffel leans precariously from the sheet towards the viewer – teetering on the edge of movement and silent stillness, reflecting the simmering excitement of this age of scientific innovation and social dynamism. Delaunay's manipulation of perspective and light, fractured throughout the steel skeleton of the Eiffel Tower, hints towards his immersion into Cubism and the abstraction of the works to come.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the inscription on the reverse reads 'R. delaunay 11 p19' Please note the following amendment to the first line of the provenance: PROVENANCE Herwarth Walden, according to an inscription verso. Galerie Alice Manteau, Paris. Private Collection, Spain. Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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