Arlequin, Embarkation of Harlequin

Jean Metzinger Catalogue Raisonné

Number: AM-22-003 Jean Metzinger

Date: 1922

Title: Arlequin, Embarkation of Harlequin

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 161.9 x 113 cm

Inscriptions: Signed (lower right)

Provenance: Léonce Rosenberg, Galerie l’Effort Moderne, Paris.

Henri Benezit, Paris

International Gallery, New York 

Parke-Bernet Galleries, New York, 14 April 1965, lot 40

Leonard Rosen, New York (acquired at the above sale)

Sotheby Parke Bernet, Los Angeles, 20 November 1972, lot 85

Frederick and Elsie Adler, New York (thence by descent)

Doyle, New York, 1 November 2016, lot 53

Doyle, New York, 15 May 2018, lot 167

Christie’s, New York, 14 May 2022, lot 889

Exhibitions: Salon des Indépendants, 1923, no. 3271 (titled L’embarquement d’Arlequin)

Literature: Bulletin de L’Effort Moderne, January 1924, No. 1, reproduced (titled Arlequin)

Joann Moser, Daniel Robbins, Jean Metzinger in Retrospect, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1985, no. 180, p. 103, reproduced.

Christopher Green, Cubism and its Enemies, Modern Movements and Reaction in French Art, 1916–1928, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1987, no. 65, p. 53, reproduced.

Notes: Metzinger’s Embarkation of Harlequin is not overtly Cubist; neither as concerns mobile perspective as portrayed between 1909 and 1914, nor as portrayed during the ‘crystal’ phase of Cubism that evolved during the war, composed of shifting planes, reduced depth perception or flat surface activity. Yet, Embarkation of Harlequin was entirely constructed under the spell of Metzinger’s ‘new perspective.’ […]

Intriguingly, Metzinger’s process of synthesis beginning with profoundly anti-naturalistic geometric manipulation of form led to an art that was compositionally stable and instantly legible. He did not analyze objects, things or events (such as a harlequin stepping onto a boat) on an observational basis. Rather, he invented and constructed his images synthetically (however suggestively or expressively) from the abstract to the figurative, from the non-representational to the recognizable subject of his choice. His decision to transit to a form of visually representational subject matter suggestive of classical or traditional painting in no way affected his synthetic working method as a Cubist artist. (Excerpt from the Metzinger monograph, Volume II, by A.Mittelmann)

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