Thursday, 23 July 2009

Old Breton


One of Muter's finest early works.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Still life with Sunflowers


Homage to Van Gogh.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Portrait of a Woman


Monday, 6 July 2009

Harbour, South of France


Thursday, 11 June 2009

Still Life


Tuesday, 9 June 2009

View of Avignon

Portrait of a Woman


Friday, 5 June 2009

Two Children


Monday, 1 June 2009

Portrait of a Woman


Head of a woman


Saturday, 30 May 2009

Still Life


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Portrait of François Pompon


François Pompon (1855-1933) was a sculptor, most famous for his monumental white polar bear "L'Ours Blanc," presently in the Musee D'Orsay. He also worked as Rodin's assistant. Muter painted his portrait on more than one occasion.

Monday, 25 May 2009

View of Avignon


Thursday, 21 May 2009

The Port of Marseille


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Still life with apples and tomatoes

1920 or before

Friday, 15 May 2009

Self Portrait


Muter painted several self portraits, this one is by far the most successful.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Gypsies by the Rhone


This work was sold at Christies in June 2007 under the more politically correct title "Bohemian Family by the Bridge of Avignon" for £36,000. I believe this is a record in the UK for a work by Mela Muter.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

"Street over the channel"

Late 1940's.

Titled "Street over the channel" by the auction house Agra-Art, this work depicts Rue de Teinturiers in Avignon and the Riviere la Sorgue, also painted by Muter here and here. The present day Rue de Teinturiers can be seen from a similar vantage point below.

The painting goes on sale May 31st with an estimate of $31,000.



Mela Muter with this work, probably in the 1950's -

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Portrait of a girl


Monday, 11 May 2009

Portrait of Ambroise Vollard


This is an unfinished portrait of Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer who helped make the names of artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, Gauguin and Van Gogh. It is unclear if Vollard ever represented Mela Muter.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Portrait of Emile Verdet

This work is unusual. Most of Mela Muter's paintings seem to turn up orphaned on the doorstep of auction houses, without secure provenance or history. This one is different, having been in the same family for many years. Muter's celebrity sitters are usually always recorded, but this painting is unusual in that it features an ordinary man whose name and circumstances are recorded, and there is an anecdote accompanying the painting.

Portrait of Emile Verdet, oil on canvas 1940's. 81 x 53cm.

This is Emile Verdet, owner of "Le Coq Hardi" and later the restaurant "Verdet" in Avignon, France. When Muter was seeking refuge in Avignon during the Second World War, she and other impoverished artists ate at Emile Verdet's restaurants. Put up for sale last year, the painting has been in the Verdet family since it was painted and given to Emile, in lieu of payment for a meal.

Muter's mantra was "concentrate on the important things." She always put a great deal of work into the faces and hands of sitters, usually expending less time and energy on clothing, backgrounds etc. This work receives a consistently high level of attention throughout.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Photo: Cité Fleurie, Paris 1905

Adults l-r, Mme Furstenberg (sister of the artist), Mela Muter, Michal Mutermilch (artist's husband), M. Furstenberg (artist's brother in law), Leopold Gottlieb.

The children are (l-r) Piotr and Julek Furstenberg and Andrzej Mutermilch.

The setting for this 1905 photograph is the Cité Fleurie, a group of artists studios constructed in 1880 with materials left over from the Universial Exposition. Gauguin and Modigliani both worked here, as did countless lesser artists. The studios are still standing at 65 Boulevard Arago, Montparnasse.

More information on Cité Fleurie.

Quai de la Ligne, Avignon


During the Second World War Mela Muter moved to Avignon in the south of France, where she continued to paint and taugh drawing and art history at the College Ste Marie. In return the local authorities gave her a small house which she kept until her death, returning regularly for summer holidays after the end of WW2 when she had relocated to Paris.

The work above depicts Quai de la Ligne in Avignon, looking towards the Pont d'Avignon. The yellow house, far left, is Muter's house, 24 Quai de la Ligne. Muter painted numerous works in the vicinity of her house, in the street, in and around the stairs behind her house, and around the Pont d'Avignon.

The artist outside her house in Avignon

Muter painted some of her best works in Avignon during the Second World War, especially landscapes. Her work is charactised at this point by a shift in palette towards deep blues (seen here in the hills in the background) mustard yellows, and light greys, yellows and ochres. Shortly after, in the 1950's, her eyesight began to fail and the quality of her work changed dramatically.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Boats in a port

1950's or later.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Valentré Bridge, Cahors



1940's, painted around Avignon.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Portrait of a man with glasses

1950 or later

This work was sold in April 2008. The man may or not be Boleslaw Nawrocki. Below is a video presentation filmed (in Polish) on Mela Muter and this work by the auction house Desa Unicum.



Another early work. Despite there being several distinctive features I am yet to identify where this was painted.

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.