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Lot #82 

Emil Filla (1882–1953)

Still Life with Salmon

oil on canvas
34 × 36 cm
Estimate: 4,000,000 CZK - 7,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 3,000,000 CZK
Hammer price:
6,000,000 CZK

This exceptionally high-quality painting demonstrates Filla’s mastery in the late twenties, considered one of his creative peaks when he fully developed his own concept of avant-garde art. In the interwar years, he often devoted himself to the subject-matters of various dishes. Food, with its shapes and colour, inspired him to create original compositions and colour variations in relation to which he changed the structure of the painting, combined techniques, and originally varied the selected objects on the canvas. He also left the melancholic impression of synthetic cubism and chose an expressive, optimistic colour range which foreshadowed his still lives from the early thirties leading up to surrealism, thus opening the next stage of his work.

The presented artwork has a number of refined qualities, especially if we focus on the composition itself. Interesting is the cut revealing the raw red meat, which is ingeniously expressed using a flat perspective, almost as if it were a separate object whose black-and-white structured surface was pulled out into the surrounding grey environment. Filla ingeniously elaborated on the idea of dealing freely with space, as can be seen on the individual objects that keep their individuality and hardly “communicate” with each other, but are organically connected by a number of colour fields that penetrate each other and are marked with individual cast shadows. Thanks to this, the scene seems unusually rich and compact, demonstrating Filla’s wide range of motifs and approaches at the time, especially in the way he re-evaluated his already established subject-matters and always gave them a new form.

Filla dealt with the motif of salmon several times. He exhibited a painting with similar title, Still Life with Salmon, in 1932 at his comprehensive exhibition at the House of Arts Brno (1924, cat. No. 24), and two others at his jubilee exhibition at Mánes in the same year (1925, cat. No. 114; 1927, cat. No. 136).

The value of the artwork for collectors is enhanced by the fact that it was rediscovered after being hidden from the public for many years and originally belonged to the collection of František Venera, as evidenced by the stamp on the stretcher. 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, Ph.D. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.