Emil Filla (1882–1953)

Still Life with Fish

Technique :oil on canvas


Signature:lower left

Dimensions:45 × 56,5 cm


starting price:‍100000 EUR

achieved price:‍360000 EUR

88th Auction, lot 172


This painting of modern composition, in which Filla developed his long-term interest in still lives, represents the advanced stage of his work, described by Vincenc Kramář as the period of “second cubism”. This artwork accurately captures the artist’s state of mind in the second half of the 1920s, pointing out the wide range of styles and highly thought-out subject-matters at the time.

Instead of organic lines, which were still characteristic of his works in the mid-twenties, Filla returned to more sharp-edged volumes and a compact composition based on the layering and permeation of plans which enable a tighter connection between individual objects. We can see the painting as a kind of communication space, in which things and their fragments relate to each other not only artistically, but also through their dramatic concept which is enhanced by the attractive well-thought-out bold colours based on dark shades penetrated with bright light spaces and significant black outlines which optically emphasise the plasticity of the entire painting. In the spatial composition, viewed from above, we can find common household items of simplified shapes, as is typical for Filla, which form an imaginary bridge between the tradition of Dutch still lives of the 17th century and the hedonistic tables full of food and drinks, a motif on which the artist often elaborated at this time. The approach with which he confronted seemingly incompatible objects – a fish, a glass, an unspecified fruit, and a newspaper – is a manifestation of his repeated efforts to shine a new light each time on seemingly insignificant articles of daily use and breathe a new life with a completely different story and form into them. The authenticity of the painting was verified by the Filla Foundation and it will be listed in the inventory of the artist’s work by prof. PhDr. V. Lahoda, CSc. Assessed during consultations by Mgr. T. Donné and PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.