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Reviews "Smoke on the roofs": an unknown canvas of Fernand Léger Discovery on the back of another painting of the artist in the Netherlands

14:40  06 october  2022
14:40  06 october  2022 Source:   francetvinfo.fr

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of art experts in the Netherlands announced Thursday, October 6, 2022 having discovered an important Work of the French cubist painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955) hidden for more than a century on the back of one of his other paintings.

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It is a real discovery that Dutch experts have just made this Thursday, October 6, the Hague (Netherlands). A hitherto unknown work of the French painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955). i nutdated smoke on the roofs, this painting, which should date according to experts from 1911-1912, was painted on the back of the table on July 14, made a year later, according to the art conservation specialists in the Redivivus studio .

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A new table of the cubist painter

carefully restored since, the canvas has been partially damaged and covered with a layer of what looks like hard glue. "It's really a discovery," Gwendolyn Boeve-Jones, director of the studio Redivivus, told AFP, located in The Hague.

Experts think that the work is part of a series in which Léger painted the sight of his workshop on the roofs of Paris to Notre-Dame, focusing on the smoke of chimneys. According to Dutch art historian Sjraar Van Heugten, only seven paintings of this series remained, and the new painting shows "extremely important" advances in the use of color and abstract by Léger. Smoke on the roofs therefore reveals according to the experts a "turning point" in the work of the contemporary painter of Picasso.

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A mystery

The history of the work begins about 110 years ago when the artist offers the painting on July 14 to his friend Marc Duchêne as a wedding gift in 1912 or 1913. But Marc Duchêne was killed during the first World War, and although the painting remained in his family, the "sad memories" which he evokes made he had never been exposed and had "remained unknown for years," explains Sjraar V year .

On July 14 was then bought from the heirs of Duchêne in 1999 by the Triton Collection, a private art foundation which still holds the table. This foundation discovers traces of restoration on the back of it, probably carried out in the 1990s, but it is not known by whom. The mystery of what was exactly on the back of the painting remained intact, even if July 14 was later exposed in several galleries.

Inquiry at Fernand Léger

The back of the work "was largely covered with a white-gray material and collectors had been informed that there was not really reason to worry, that this n ' was not important, "says Gwendolyn Boeve-Jones. But this last, part of the United States to the Netherlands to work at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam before creating its own studio, remains intrigued by the enigma.

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In 2016, the owners ask him to conduct the investigation. Gwendolyn Boeve-Jones, who says he "lived with light" all his life, then turns into detective. It peeks art publications and surfs on the internet. At the same time, the experts discover under the layer of glue of shapes and colors, and in particular the smoke which escapes chimneys. "It was not so difficult to see that it (the painting) was in a way belonged to the 'smokes series on the roofs'," says Gwendolyn Boeve-Jones.

A "real Fernand Léger"

of high -tech imaging techniques examining the paint layers and the damage then allowed his team to restore painting his luster of yesteryear. Quickly, experts realize the importance of the work, which, according to them, represents a great advance between the darker previous work of light and the more abstract and colorful style than the series launched. "It is not only that the painting has remained hidden. It is interesting to a certain extent. But what we discovered was the role he had to play in his career," observes Gwendolyn Boeve- Jones.

Experts are certain that it is a real light due to the provenance, the brushstroke and even the chassis of the canvas which carries its signature. "It breathes the light in full nose," explains Gwendolyn Boeve-Jones. Sjraar Van Heugten, previously responsible for the collections of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, says he is "very surprised by the quality" of the work. "It is a magnificent painting and I am very happy that the restoration was so successful," he said.

The table will be exhibited from November 19, 2022 to April 2, 2023 at the Kroller-Muller Museum in the center of the Netherlands, as part of an exhibition on the series on the roofs of Léger. It will be placed in a window that will allow visitors to see both sides.

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