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Lot #187 

Emil Filla

Still Life With Fruit and a Bottle

mixed media (oil, enamel, sand) on canvas
47 x 55 cm
Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK - 5,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 2,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
7,100,000 CZK
This modern artwork, with even a touch of abstraction, is representative of Filla’s advanced interwar period of work. It accurately captures the artist’s state of mind in the first half of the 1930s, when essential sensualism and joy of life prevailed in his work compared to earlier melancholic features. Thanks to turning away from synthetic cubism and strongly inclining to surrealism, which was triggered by the Poesie 1932 exhibition, Filla executed unexpectedly fresh colour compositions during this period; these are visually extremely attractive in all respects and absolutely crucial in his further artistic development. Rich sensual organic shapes started to prevail on his canvases, which became a vigorous medley of forms and colours that wedge into each other, fight each other, or just complement each other harmoniously.
This very compact composition presents many characteristic subject-matters from the artist’s repertoire, whether it is a bottle and a glass, or fruit displayed on a tray, thus demonstrating his wide range of topics at the time and especially the way he reconsidered them. The brighter and, one may say, happier colour palette is related more than ever to Filla’s relaxedness, confidence, and desire to experiment, as evidenced by working with various art media such as alternating impasto with smooth painting and using enamel and sand in an oil base. In the clear simplification of all objects, there are a number of small forces, whose actions and movements are sufficiently balanced against each other, resulting in a paradoxically apparent calm arising from the whole artwork. Filla outlined each individual element with a distinctive black line, which, however, does not emphasise the plasticity of the objects, but rather creates an impression of ordinary household items seemingly “acting on stage”, acquiring a new, even mysterious and symbolic meaning.
The artwork was originally acquired directly from the artist’s atelier and its value is increased by his inscription “F 313” on the reverse. The authenticity of the painting was verified by the Filla Foundation and it will be listed in the inventory of the artist’s work by prof. PhDr. V. Lahoda, CSc. Assessed during consultations by Mgr. T. Donné and PhDr. R. Michalová, PhD. From the attached expertise by PhDr. K. Srp: “[…] Filla’s still life is captivating for its smooth, organic concept, which permeates the entire composition in which the residues of previous lyrical cubism can still be seen, but the approach already shows a clear change in the emphasis that the author achieved during the first half of the 1930s, when he combined black outline drawing with coloured solid edges, and thus he approached two simultaneous ways of depiction: bordered, in which objects retain their identity and at the same time immerse into the other object on which they are placed. […]”