Jean Metzinger Catalogue Raisonné

Number: AM-06-009 Jean Metzinger

Date: 1906

Title: Matin au Parc Montsouris

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 49.7 x 67.7 cm

Inscriptions: Signed (lower right)

Provenance: Samuel M. Kootz Gallery, New York. Mrs. Bernard Gimbel Collection, Greenwich. Sotheby’s, New York, 12 November 1988, lot 328. Private collection, US.

Sotheby’s, New York, 3 May 2012, lot 163 Bonhams, London, 22 June 2017, lot 8

Exhibited: Jean Metzinger in Retrospect, Iowa City, The University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1985, no. 10, reproduced in color p. 25 (later travelled to Austin, Chicago and Pittsburgh).

Notes: The structure represented in the background may be the Observatoire de Montsouris (Palais du Bardo), conceived to represent Tunisie at the Exposition Universelle of 1867. The building was transformed into a meteorological observatory in 1876 for officers of the Naval Academy. Astronomical observations were made here until 1900. After 1905, the observatory became an archives depot for the Bureau des Longitudes.

Metzinger has reduced its complex architectural structure down to an elemental building block. This reductive approach—as the process of converting a fraction into its decimal form—is a means by which to understand the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, to simpler, more fundamental forms. If indeed this is the observatory, Metzinger has reduced a complex system of architectural elements into nothing but the sum of its parts, representing only an individual constituent (or three); in tune with the idea that everything can be described in a language using a limited number of core elements, or a combination of those elements. His use of larger brushstrokes than in earlier paintings and a reduced palette (basically three colors) are testimony to this intention. (Alexander Mittelmann, Jean Metzinger, Divisionism, Cubism, Neoclassicism and Post Cubism, written 2 May 2012)

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