Frantisek Kupka 1871-1957
T00257 La Cascade
(The Waterfall) 1906
Inscribed 'Kupka | 06' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 25 1/2 x 25 1/2 (65 x 65)
Presented by Mme Eugénie Kupka 1959
Not included in the incomplete catalogue of Kupka's work by Ludmila Vachtov , Frank Kupka
Mme Kupka wrote in a letter of March 1959: 'About 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon Kupka very often went to the Bois de Boulogne and this is certainly the waterfall in the Bois de Boulogne. He took notes for this painting which was made in the studio ... It is the only picture he made of this subject.' He had moved to a house in Puteaux which was close to the Bois de Boulogne in the spring of 1906. His works of this period also included a painting of the same dimensions 'In the Bois de Boulogne', signed and dated 1907, which shows Parisians picnicking in the woods on a Sunday. The repeated verticals of the tree trunks, like the lines of the waterfall, anticipate to some extent his later interest in vertical planes.
A small drawing in coloured pencils in the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, 'Study for "Nocturne"' 1910-11, may be said to constitute a direct link between the Tate's painting and one of Kupka's earliest abstract pictures, 'Nocturne' 1911, which has an all-over pattern of vertical strokes of blue. Margit Rowell has written of this drawing in the catalogue of the Kupka exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 1975, notes on nos. 69 and 70: 'The artist has superimposed large vertical slabs of midnight blue in the frontal plane over a sketchily suggested pond or waterfall (see the Tate Gallery's Waterfall, dated 1906). The marginal notes instruct: "dissect the underlying space".' All three works have a square format and the initial forms in the drawing bear a distinct resemblance to the Tate's picture.
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, p.404, reproduced p.404