Fernand Léger

Playing Card and Pipe

1928

Original title
Carte et pipe
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 600 x 918 mm
frame: 842 x 1166 x 74 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Mrs Fanny Wadsworth 1951
Reference
N05991

Display caption

Playing cards and clay pipes had been common elements in Cubist still life paintings of the period circa 1910-14. They introduced a measure of easy legibility, as well as a note of simple domesticity, into these 'difficult' works. In incorporating a playing card and pipe in this painting Léger seems to have been alluding to the earlier avant-garde movement. However, he chose to combine them with types of imagery that were antithetical to Cubism: organic nature (the leaves) and abstraction (the geometric and irregular shapes). In this period he was concerned above all with synthesising different styles of contemporary modernist painting.

Gallery label, August 2004

Catalogue entry

Fernand Léger 1881-1955

N05991 Carte et Pipe (Playing Card and Pipe) 1928

Inscribed 'F. LÉGER. 28' b.r. and 'Nature-Morte | F. LÉGER. 28' on back of canvas
Oil on canvas, 23 5/8 x 36 1/8 (60 x 91.5)
Presented by Mrs F. Wadsworth in memory of Edward Wadsworth 1951
Prov: With Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie de l'Effort Moderne), Paris (purchased from the artist); Edward Wadsworth, London; Mrs F. Wadsworth, London

Léonce Rosenberg's photograph of this work is entitled on the back 'Playing Card and Pipe'; it is also listed under this title and as 'Playing Card and Pipe. Still Life'. N05990 and N05991 have consecutive numbers in his photographic records (1108 and 1109 respectively), which seems to confirm that they were painted at more or less the same time and that Edward Wadsworth probably bought both of them on the same occasion. This phase of Léger's painting had considerable influence on Wadsworth's own work.

A preliminary study in oil on canvas for the present composition, measuring 27 x 46cm, is reproduced in Les Grandes Collections Belges: Collection G. Van Geluwe (Brussels 1956), No.60, under the title 'Still Life with a Pipe'. It is now in the collection of Marcel Mabille of Rhode-St-Genèse, near Brussels.

Published in:
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.419-20, reproduced p.419