Fernand Léger

Three Bottles

1954

Artist
Fernand Léger 1881–1955
Original title
Les Trois Bouteilles
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 330 x 460 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by Gustav and Elly Kahnweiler 1974, accessioned 1994
Reference
T06800

Not on display

Display caption

Three Bottles is a late still life in which Léger’s signature palette of red, yellow, blue and green is typically accompanied by thick black outlines. There are large areas of pure colour throughout the canvas which are independent from the objects depicted; only occasionally, for instance with the pea-pod on the left and the last bottle on the right, does Léger use colour to describe the objects themselves.

Gallery label, August 2004

Technique and condition

The painting was executed in oil paint on a single piece of medium weight linen canvas, attached to a softwood expandable stretcher with steel tacks.

The linen canvas was probably first coated with a layer of rabbit skin glue sizing before the application of the pigmented oil ground layer, which is of a warm cream and slightly pink colour and of reasonable thickness. The paint was then applied by brush in a fairly free and fluid manner and the brushmarks are clearly visible in most colours. The paint is generally opaque and matt, although a second layer of blue is markedly higher in gloss. The black paint is particularly flat and matt and was probably thinned down before use. Generally, the black outlines were laid down first, followed by the filling in of the solid colours. There is an area of pentimenti in the horizontal band of the cup in the centre of the work. The painting is signed and dated in the lower right corner. There is no varnish layer.

The painting is in overall excellent condition, with no record of any previous treatment and no sign of any imminent deterioration. The frame is probably original, and has only required minor repairs, such as the reattachment of some areas of the fabric on its front and a slight build up to allow the fitting of glazing and a backboard to offer the painting a much higher degree of protection.

Tom Learner
July 1997

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