Eiffel Tower

See Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1950-134-43b, for reverse

Robert Delaunay, French, 1885 - 1941

Geography:
Made in France, Europe

Date:
c. 1925

Medium:
Oil on burlap

Dimensions:
51 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches (130.8 x 31.7 cm)

Curatorial Department:
Modern and Contemporary Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1950-134-43a

Credit Line:
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950

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Label:
This is a study for a painting that Robert Delaunay contributed to Robert Mallet-Stevens’s hall for a model French embassy at the 1925 Paris International Decorative Arts Exhibition. The conservative exhibition commissioner judged the work too modern and removed it just prior to the opening. After the decision prompted a wave of protests by the Paris cultural community, the painting was reinstalled.

Additional information:
  • PublicationMasterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art

    This exceptionally long and narrow painting by Robert Delaunay powerfully conveys the Eiffel Tower's soaring monumentality, further emphasized by the perspective, which places the viewer almost under the structure. Painted in a striking bright orange with swirling circles of red, yellow, blue, and green consuming its apex, the tower rises above the cacophony of Paris's cityscape. The small Neoclassical building on the right highlights the structure's striking modernity and calls attention to its extraordinary height, while the large-scale abstracted female nude in the foreground appears as a symbol of nature in opposition to the technological advancement represented by the tower. Built when Delaunay was only four years old, the Eiffel Tower captured the artist's imagination, and he completed more than thirty drawings and paintings of it over the course of his career. He particularly admired the geometric clarity and psychological impact of the tower, which remained the tallest structure in the world throughout his lifetime. This animated painting demonstrates Delaunay's interest in combining abstraction and figuration, as well as his inventive exploration of simultaneity and the possibilities of pure color. Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 152.

Provenance

Estate of the artist until 1946; sold to Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Los Angeles, through Marcel Duchamp as agent, 1946 [1]; gift to PMA, 1950. 1. According to provenance notes made by Duchamp (letter of 8 Sept. 1951 to Arensbergs, Arensberg Archives, CA Use Tax 1951).