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Emil Filla (1882–1953)

Kitchen Still Life

oil on canvas
signed upper left
48 × 65 cm
Estimate: 7,000,000 CZK - 11,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 5,500,000 CZK
Current price:
5,500,000 CZK

The presented still life represents the work commitment and talent of Emil Filla, who was very successful in the second half of the 1920s, and the year 1927 is considered one of his career peaks. He was successfully exhibiting his works, and at the general meeting of SVU Mánes, he was elected a member of the association committee and thus became one of the leading figures of the interwar art scene in Czechoslovakia. Although he concentrated almost exclusively on still lifes, he expanded his range of vehicles of expression to an impressive extent. He immersed himself much more in the internal construction of the depicted items and developed theoretical contemplations on space and the role of the point of view in the perception of the artwork. He also made good use of his previous experience – he was still close to history and genre painting, which he clung to during his Dutch exile and never fully abandoned. He had made notes of his favourite Mannerism and Baroque artists and highly valued some Bohemian artists as well. Thus, we can undoubtedly associate the presented painting with the leading realism painter of the 19th century, Karel Purkyně, who, like Filla, was fond of the motif of hunting still lifes.

In the presented canvas, Filla created an allusion to a historical scene, which does not copy the past or patiently imitate it but is the architect of an autonomous artistic achievement. He composed the composition from three objects freely distributed over the surface of the painting whilst he approached each of them individually. The first of them is an almost realistically rendered bird hung upside down, which draws a lot of attention to itself. Its right part under the wing consists of a subtly placed red shape imitating the body, hatched with a white line indicating either the already missing part or supplementing the background. The second realistic motif is the green artichoke, which has long been a favourite and recurring motif of Filla’s. The third object is the shapeless mass of the bottle, which is also disturbed by part of the background. With these ingeniously pervading colour fields, Filla elaborated his ideas about the free handling of space and thus defined his concept of imaginative cubism based on the blending of actual, non-cubist elements and abstract plans. At the same time, the geometric division of the background incorporated these concrete objects from a clearly defined space into more abstract dimensions, which brought dramatic tension to the painting.

There is an illegible stamp from Mánes on the reverse (it was probably exhibited at one of the members’ exhibitions of SVU Mánes). On the stretcher, there are stamps from the collections of dr. Bohuslav Brouk (cat. No. 89) and dr. Jaroslav Borovička. The artwork comes from an important Prague collection. The authenticity has been verified by the Filla Foundation, and it will be included in an upcoming inventory of the artist’s work. Assessed during consultations by Mgr. T. Donné and PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.