MacDougall Auctions 12-18 June 2008

12 June 2008

Artist Index / Full Catalogue


* 32. ANISFELD, BORIS 1879-1973

Reveries signed and dated 1948.

Oil on canvas, 127 by 102 cm.

Provenance: Estate of the artist.

This painting is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery, and is so intended. The female figure leaning on the back of the chair is ephemeral, a diaphanous wraith. She is purely symbolic, but of what? The woman’s head at the lower left of the painting, on the other hand, is fully realised, and could be a representation of an actual woman, although she too has an evanescence beyond flesh and blood. Her appearance contrasts dramatically with that of the figure to the right.

On the table in the absolute centre of the work, is a vase of white poppies. For millennia, these flowers have symbolised sleep, forgetfulness, even death, but also, consolation and acceptance. Anisfeld’s attention to the botanical details of the vase of poppies is not accidental.

Nor is the painting’s name Reveries, which was written on the back of the canvas in his daughter’s hand. This is a representation of multiple waking dreams, but while it might be possible to connect them to actual events in his life, that would perhaps risk a too literal interpretation of this painting, whose mystery is a large part of its appeal.

Charles Chatfield-Taylor.

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.