Robert Delaunay 1885-1941
T01233 Rythme sans Fin
(Endless Rhythm) 1934
Oil on canvas, 63 3/4 x 51 1/4 (162 x 130)
Purchased from Alan Power (Grant-in-Aid) 1970
Prov: Mme Sonia Delaunay, Paris; with Galerie Beyeler, Basle, 1955; G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh; with Galerie Beyeler, Basle; Alan Power, London
Exh: Robert Delaunay, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Liège, April-May 1955 (24) as 'Rythme' 1935; Robert Delaunay, Galerie Beyeler, Basle, March-April 1956 (31, repr. as 28) as 'Rythme sans Fin' 1935-7; R. Delaunay, Städtisches Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, June-July 1956 (73) as 'Endloser Rythmus' 1934; Kunsthalle, Mannheim, July-August 1956 (73); Thompson Pittsburgh, Kunsthaus, Zurich, October-November 1960 (24); Sammlung G. David Thompson, Kunstmuseum, Düsseldorf, December 1960-January 1961 (24); Collection Thompson uit Pittsburgh, Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, February-April 1961 (23); One Hundred Paintings from the G. David Thompson Collection, Guggenheim Museum, New York, May-August 1961 (works not numbered); Collezione G. David Thompson, Pittsburgh, USA, Museo Civico, Turin, October-November 1961 (22)
Lit: Robert Delaunay, Du Cubisme à l'Art Abstrait (Paris 1957), No.326, p.302 as 'Rythme' 1935-7
Repr: Gustav Vriesen and Max Imdahl, Robert Delaunay - Licht und Farbe (Cologne 1967), pl.31
This picture, which does not appear to have been exhibited in the artist's lifetime, is sometimes known as 'Rhythm' and sometimes as 'Endless Rhythm', and has been variously dated 1934, 1935 and 1935-7, but according to Sonia Delaunay (letter of 4 August 1971) was painted in 1934. It appears in her own records as No.583 under the title 'Endless Rhythm', which she considered to be the most appropriate title. The coloured discs strung out diagonally across the picture are so arranged that each one leads on to the next and the movement is directed back again into the picture at the two ends.
There is a very similar but smaller and slightly sketchier painting in the Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture at Grenoble which is signed and dated on the back 'r. delaunay 1934'. Known as 'Rhythms', it is No.301 in the Habasque catalogue and is in oil on millboard, 61 x 47 cm. The composition is almost the same except that the lower left disc is cut by the picture edge both at the bottom and on the left. The colours are virtually identical. That it is more likely to be a later, revised version than a preliminary study is borne out by the fact that the Tate's picture shows signs of extensive reworking (notably pentimenti which indicate that the shapes were originally in the opposite diagonal direction), whereas the picture at Grenoble was painted in a very fresh, direct way, as though the artist knew exactly what he wanted to do.
T01233 appears to have been rolled while still semi-dry and was clearly kept rolled for some years.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.162-3, reproduced p.162