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Lot #172  –  91st Auction Day by KODL Gallery  (5/26/2024)

Emil Filla

Still Life with Pigeon

oil on canvas
signed lower centre
65.5 × 72 cm
Estimate: 3,000,000 CZK - 5,000,000 CZK
Starting price: 2,500,000 CZK
Hammer price:
5,000,000 CZKEUR

This painting, missing for decades, is an extraordinary example of Filla’s late modernist work. It foreshadows his return to realism in the 1950s and evaluates the work of the 66-year-old painter, who reached a unique synthesis of cubism, neoclassical monumental figurativeness and surrealistic deformation. In addition, Filla filled these works with bright colours and the plastic structure of the oil paint, thanks to which they did not lose any of the power of his artistic personality. The presented still life, consisting of many motifs appearing in his earlier works, connects motifs such as a cage, a mirror, cards and a bird. This motif had appeared in Filla’s paintings since the 1920s; at this time, it symbolised a hunting trophy, and later, it embodied the element of freedom. The refined colour presentation of the composition consists of Filla’s favourite contrasts of yellow – as an elementary, connecting colour – accompanied by green, brown and, above all, light purple, a shade often used in his post-war works. Another motif of a significant role is the four cards under the mirror. Whilst their purpose is unclear, we can assume they had a personal meaning for the artist, suggesting an optimistic future.

The painting was presented at the travelling exhibition Savremena čehoslovačka umenost, Komisija za kultene veze sa inostranstvom, Ljubljana – Zagreb – Beograd 1958, cat. No. 16, and also at the exhibitions: Cubism, Regional Gallery in Liberec 1964, cat. No. 19; Emil Filla: Still Life 1911–1951, Vincenc Kramář Gallery, Prague, January–February 1968, cat. No. 37. It was published in the periodical Výtvarné umění XII, 1962, insert in No. 9, behind p. 384; in the catalogue of the exhibition curated by Miroslav Míčko and Ivo Frol (Savremena čehoslovačka umenost, Komisija za kultune veze sa inostranstvom, Ljubljana – Zagreb – Beograd 1958, not. pag.), in the catalogue of the exhibition Emil Filla: Still Life 1911–1951, Vincenc Kramář Gallery, Prague 1968, not. pag., and in the book J. Uždil / I. Zhoř: Fine Art in the Education of Youth, Prague 1964, p. 112. There is the artist’s number 14/48 in red pencil on the stretcher. The painting is presented in the artist’s original framing. The authenticity has been verified by the Filla Foundation, and the painting will be included in the forthcoming inventory of Filla’s work. Assessed during consultations by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., and Mgr. T. Donné. The expertise of PhDr. K. Srp is attached.

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