Russian Art + NFT Auction

10 June 2021

Artist Index / Full Catalogue

Three Heads, Portrait of René Crevel

* 38. TCHELITCHEW, PAVEL (1898–1957)

Three Heads, Portrait of René Crevel, signed and dated 1925, also further signed, inscribed "oil", titled, numbered "IV" and "48", and dated on the stretcher, also further inscribed "René Crevel" on the inside of the frame.

Oil on canvas, 48.5 by 37.5 cm.
70,000–90,000 GBP

Provenance: Collection of Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), an American writer and art collector, Paris.
Collection of Pierre Loeb, Paris, c. 1934.
With Galerie de Beaune, Paris.
Estate of Professor Ralph W. Church, USA.
Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Paintings and Drawings, Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, 20 January 1973, lot 87.
Estate of Richard van Every, USA.
Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, 14 December 1976, lot 33.
Collection of Ruth Ford and Charles Henri Ford, USA.
Important Russian Art, Sotheby's New York, 4 November 2010, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Private collection, USA.

Exhibited: Exhibition of P. Tchelitchew, C. Bérard, L. and E. Berman, Galerie E. Druet, Paris, 22 February–5 March 1926.
Pavel Tchelitchew, Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, September–October 1983. The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 21 May–6 September 2011; Grand Palais, Paris, 3 October–16 January 2012; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 21 February–3 June 2012, No. 190.

Literature: Exhibition catalogue, Exhibition of P. Tchelitchew, C. Bérard, L. and E. Berman, Galerie Druet, Paris, 1926, No. 48, listed.
M. Raynal, Peintres français modernes, Paris, Albert Skira, 1934, illustrated.
Exhibition catalogue, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and Parisian Avant-Garde, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 232, pl. 190, illustrated; pp. 233 and 325, mentioned in the text; p. 454, No. 433, listed.

The work presented for auction, Three Heads, Portrait of René Crevel, depicting the well-known French writer and poet, was painted by Pavel Tchelitchew late in 1925, at the beginning of the artist's celebrated monochrome period, which lasted until the end of 1928. In the monochromes he was fascinated by the possibility of a hidden, veiled pigment, seemingly shrouded in a ritual sacrament, and by his penetration into a different, reverse essence of human flesh, faces, fruit and flowers that were hidden from any bright light.

Tchelitchew's analytically sophisticated view of ordinary things generally prompted him towards an extraordinary interpretation, connected with space and time. Tchelitchew was interested in simultaneously depicting the many aspects of a face or figure and in connecting them through partial transformation into a single image. In 1926, he painted an extensive series of similar works. Tchelitchew broadened his experiments with simultaneity. Perhaps the first step in that direction was made in his drawings, where the figure is treated as a single image, while two or three views of a head from different angles are presented by means of an ingenious device – the subject appears to pull off a mask, the art historian James Soby explained in 1942.

Tchelitchew drew and painted René Crevel repeatedly. The portrait now offered is the most interesting and unusual image of the young poet, revealing the many facets of the artistic explorations made by the true pioneer that Pavel Tchelitchew really was. The work belonged to the great American writer Gertrude Stein and was exhibited at the famous Paris exhibition dedicated to her memory.

The present lot as illustrated and listed in the 2011 exhibition catalogue

Three Heads, Portrait of René Crevel

Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.