Jean Metzinger

Woman with a Coffee Pot


On loan

Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (Norwich, UK): Young Picasso: the making of modernity

Jean Metzinger 1883–1956
Original title
La Femme à la cafetière
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1153 × 810 mm
frame: 1199 × 846 × 63 mm
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959

Display caption

Inspired by Picasso and Braque, Metzinger first worked in a Cubist manner in 1909-10. Thereafter he became a public exponent of what he and like-minded artists saw as the abstract and mathematical foundations of Cubism. After the First World War Metzinger - like Picasso and Braque, - turned increasingly to traditional subjects in response to growing interest in the classical tradition. 'Woman with a Coffee-Pot' has many of the features one would expect to find in a late Cubist work. However, it shows Metzinger on the point of adopting a more naturalistic way of working. The space is recessive and the figure is like an actor of the Italian 'commedia dell'arte', much in vogue in post-war Paris.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Jean Metzinger 1883-1956

T00251 La Femme à la Cafetière (Woman with a Coffee-Pot) 1919

Inscribed 'Metzinger' b.r.
Oil on canvas, 45 3/8 x 31 7/8 (116 x 81)
Presented by the Friends of the Tate Gallery 1959
Prov: With Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie de l'Effort Moderne), Paris (purchased from the artist); with Kleinmann et de Frenne, Paris, 1939; with L.G. Baugin, Paris, 1952; through Henri Creuzevault, Paris; Friends of the Tate Gallery
Exh: Pittori d'Oggi: Francia-Italia, Palazzo Madama, Turin, September-October 1955 (works not numbered, repr.)
Repr: Guillaume Apollinaire, Les Peintres Cubistes (Geneva 1950), pl.12; John Rothenstein, The Tate Gallery (London 1966), p.257

This picture is reproduced in the 1950 edition of Apollinaire's Les Peintres Cubistes (though it is not in the previous editions) with the date 1911, and L.G. Baugin recalls that Metzinger confirmed the date 1911 when he saw it hanging in his gallery in the Rue de Miromesnil in the early 1950s. However it is so different in style from his other works of that year, such as 'The Snack' in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, that this dating must be discarded as impossible.

The rather mannered, curvilinear drawing, with flat planes of colour contrasted with stippled areas, is characteristic of a later phase of his Cubism and is particularly close to pictures of 1919 such as 'Woman knitting' in the Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris (which may even depict the same model) and 'Melon and Fruit Dish' reproduced in the Bulletin de 'L'Effort Moderne', No.6, 1924. This dating seems to be confirmed by the fact that it has the Léonce Rosenberg photo number 131 and that the immediately preceding and succeeding numbers, 'Woman with a Necklace' and 'Still Life with a Guitar', are both Metzingers signed and dated 1919, both very close to this in style and, like this work, in painted ovals.

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, p.514, reproduced p.514

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