Wednesday, 29 April 2009

The Old Breton

"The Old Breton" Pre-1910? 91 x 58cm.

Stylistically influenced by Gauguin, Van Gogh and portraying earnestly the lifestyle of the Breton people, this work dates between 1905-1910. As with the still life "Fishes" the paint is very thin, and although many of the elements of Muter's later technique - the dark, black shadows, bare patches of canvas, the tiny seperate brushstrokes - are already in place, the composition is slightly clumsy and the handling in places is weak. The old man's jacket and the sky behind him betray a naivete that would not be thrown off for a number of years to come. Muter did not truly settle into a mature style until after the First World War.

This work goes on sale on the 3rd of June in London. The estimate is £15-20,000 which is fairly low for a work of this type and scale.

Still life with basket of grapes

Oil on board. 55x45.5cm. After the 1940s

This work will be sold through Agra Art in Poland on the 31st May.

Portrait of a red haired child


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Rue à Collioure

1920 or before

Muter visited Collioure in the south of France on several occassions, following in the footsteps of artists such as Matisse, Derain and Signac. The work above is quite early and is one of the several painted under the influence of the Fauves. The bright colours are fairly unusual for Muter and this work can be labelled an experiment. The work is painted on the reverse of this nude.

The scene today can be seen below, little has changed -

Still life with flowers

Date unknown, probably after the 1940's.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Portrait of a woman

Date unknown

Friday, 24 April 2009


1940's. Likely painted in Avignon.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Waterway, Avignon

Pen and ink, 1940's

This work features the same body of water as this oil painting, painted a few metres away.

Harbour, South of France


Again, heavily influenced by Paul Signac.


Date unknown

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Woman by a window, with flowers


Another early, experimental work.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009


Oil on canvas, 1903. 61.5x61.5cm

The works given title is "Ryby" ("Fishes" in Polish.) This is an early work as evidenced by the fuller signature "Mela Muter" and the technique. Muter's trademark patches of blank canvas are present but rather than the impasto of all her later works the application of the paint here is very economical, almost dry-brush in places.

Mela Muter's earliest work are signed in full "Maria Mela Mutermilch." This was shortened (as in the work above) to the more manageable "Mela Muter" around 1901, and by 1914 she used "Muter" which was to be her signature for the rest of her life.

This work sold in June 2008 for $30, 476.


1940's, painted in Avignon

Monday, 20 April 2009

Still Life with wine


Fort St. Andre, Avignon


The ancient Fort St. Andre in Villeneuve-les-Avignon provided the focal point for many of Mela Muter's landscapes during her time in Avignon. The present work is heavily influenced by Cezanne in it's palette and composition and again by Paul Signac in the restrained watercolour technique, characterised by short strokes, outlines and small blocks of brilliant colour interspersed with areas of blank paper. A similar view was painted by Corot in 1836.

Sunday, 19 April 2009


41x32cm. 1920's(?)

Sold at Tiroche, Israel for $2300 in 2006.

Portrait of Georges Clemenceau

Oil on canvas, mid 1920's

I don't have a date for this work, but judging by the style, the sitter and the distinctive chair which features in other dated works, it is probably mid 1920's. Clemenceau by this point had stepped down as prime minister of France, but he still appears a refined and imposing figure. Muter, as she often did, imbues her sitter's gaze with an element of uncertainty and strips the work of any formality.

Saturday, 18 April 2009


1940's, Avignon period.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Bridge on the Seine, Paris


Muter's sparse watercolour technique was heavily influenced by the neo-impressionist Paul Signac. She greatly admired Signac and painted many of the scenes he favoured such as the beach at Collioure and the bridges of Paris. She painted numerous oils and watercolours of the Pont Marie in Paris, of which the above work is probably one.

Waterwheel, Avignon

Oil on canvas, 1940's?

Portrait of a nude girl

Probably before 1920. Likely painted in Collioure, France.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Nature morte aux pommes

Oil on canvas, 1918.

Portrait of a Gentleman

c.1910. Actual title unknown.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Portrait of Henri Barbusse, Georges Courteline

1920, reproduced in the May 1924 edition of "Clarté." Muter was heavily involved in left wing politics throughout the 1920's and contributed many drawings to journals such as Clarté, described as "the French bulletin of the International of thought." Henri Barbusse, the acclaimed French novelist responsible for "Le Feu" which many consider the first fictional account of the First World War, was the driving force behind Clarté. Muter took his portrait on several occasions, and also painted many of the other figures in her and Barbusse's political circle - Romain Rolland, Anatole France, Raymond Lefebvre, Rabindranath Tagore etc.

The 1920's and 30's were the high point of Muter's social and working life. She counted politicians and Nobel Prize winners amongst her circle of friends and struggled to keep up with the demand for portrait commissions. During this period she painted the cream of the European artistic and political community - Arthur Honegger, Georges Clemenceau, Bronislaw Huberman, Romain Rolland, Diego Rivera, Edgar Varese, Georges Courteline - to name a few. The Second World War was just around the corner, however, and the euphoria of the 20's and 30's was soon gone.

"Portrait of Georges Courteline" before 1927.

Cliff at Le Trayas

Oil on canvas, c.1921. Sold at Sothebys in 2007 for $45,000.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Fillette sur une chaise

Oil on Panel, around 1919. Although titled "Fillette sur une chaise" this is possibly an erroneous title given after the artist's death. The sitter bears a striking resemblence to Muter's son.

Close up, illustrating the artist's technique.

Montmartre, Paris

Oil on canvas, 1925.

Nature morte aux fruits et à la bouteille

Oil on canvas, 1940's(?) Probably painted in Avignon.

Professor Rupplin in Tyrolean Costume

Oil on canvas, 1920's(?)