Nature Morte à la Lanterne
Le Corbusier

Oil on canvas
39³⁄₈ x 31⁷⁄₈”

Painted in 1930, Le Corbusier’s 'Nature morte à la lanterne' is a striking and large still-life that dates from a fascinating period in the artist’s career during which the rigid stasis of Purism softened, and a looser, more organic style began to dominate his work. An architect as well as an artist, the Swiss-born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, as he was known before he adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier in 1920, first burst into the Parisian art world when he and his artistic comrade, Amédée Ozenfant, published the bold manifesto Après le cubisme in 1918. Calling for a "return to order" after the fragmentation and incomprehensibility of Cubism, these artists founded Purism, a movement that established an aesthetic of order, clarity and rhythmic unity. By 1925, the pair had disbanded, and Le Corbusier began to adopt a freer painterly idiom, looking to the natural world for inspiration; a stylistic shift that occurred both in his painting and his architecture. Depicting two objects, a lantern and a cafetière, a coffee pot, upon a tabletop, 'Nature morte à la lanterne' encapsulates this radical artistic transition, a work that appears almost abstract in its construction. Resonating with a clarity and purity, it is imbued with a distinctly surreal quality, a complex and compelling painting by one of the key figures of early 20th century modernism. On the reverse of 'Nature morte à la lanterne', Le Corbusier dedicated the work to his close friend, the French doctor Pierre Winter, who was the original owner of the painting. –Christie’

(Photo: Christie’s)