Lot 105
Václav Špála (1885 - 1946) BATHING

1915
Oil on paperboard
50,5 x 65,5 cm (h x w)
Signed: Signed and dated lower right "V. Špála 15"

Starting price
5 500 000 CZK
   |   220 000 €
Price realized
8 500 000 CZK
   |   340 000 €
price without premium

As explained in the expert assessment by PhDr. Rea Michalová, PhD:

Bathing is an original, absolutely exclusive, High Cubist work by Václav Špála, one of the foremost exponents of the Czech avant-garde movement and a member of  the Group of Fine Artists, the Tvrdošíjní (“Stubborn Ones”) art group, and Mánes Union of Fine Artists, and an artist whose work ranks among the proven classics of Czech painting, without whom no collection of Czech modern art would be complete. The painting represents an exceptional collector’s piece from the most valuable period in Špála’s career, when his work corresponded with the contemporary level of European painting. One can find a number of major figures in the international art world who were like-minded in their interpretations of certain themes. These include the aforementioned Fauvism, the Orphism of Robert Delaunay and Jacques Villon, the expressive colour of Die Brücke and, later, Der blaue Reiter… Špála’s creative composition of the painting places him on par with these artists; what is perhaps even more interesting is that the Czech artist was remarkable for his intuitive, exquisite painterly expression, which he mastered like very few others.

"This painting depicts one of Špála’s key pre-war and (briefly) post-war themes: bathing. Links with this motif reach back to Renoir’s enchanted testament to reflections of light on pink skin, Cézanne’s structure, Derain’s balance of color and form, and to period Czech poetry (including Stanislav Kostka Neumann and Josef Hora), which metaphorize analogous ideas and feelings. Bathing can be described as a unique work by Špála featuring Cubist form and color accents as central elements of expression. He presents Cubist symbolism in the crystalline movement of material of the female body and landscape elements, water and cliffs, adding dynamics to the motion of the fields of color.

"The reduction of color to three main tones – red, blue, white and shades thereof – create a compelling Orphic accord and vibrant basis for Špála’s idyllic view of the world. In his bold, 'full' brush strokes and in the organic unity of the figure and the landscape, the artist thoroughly applies the principle of the rhythm of color and form. Distinctly canorous in character, it is this for which Špála is acclaimed."

Exhibited at: National Artist Václav Špála: Posthumous Exhibition, Mánes Union of Fine Artists, Prague, September – November 1947, cat. no. 51a.
Václav Špála: Catalogue Raisonné, Prague 2002, fig. 27, 28.
 Reproduced in: Václav Špála, Mezi avantgardou a živobytím [Václav Špála, Between Avant-Garde and Livelihood], National Gallery in Prague, 2005, fig. 145.

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