Jan Zrzavý (1890–1977)
Le Fret II
Technique :tempera on cardboard
Dimensions:38 × 46 cm
starting price:100000 EUR
achieved price:201600 EUR
88th Auction, lot 147
Brittany was a lifelong source of inspiration for Jan Zrzavý, to which he kept returning in his memories and from which drew a lot of inspiration even in his later work of the 1950s and early 1960s after returning to Bohemia. In the painting Le Fret II, Zrzavý used a loose combination of several previously applied motifs from earlier works and focused especially on their simplification and plainness of expression. At first glance, the beholder’s attention is caught by the calm, deserted embankment with the harbour, which, with its regular geometrical structure, creates a central space in this harmonious composition. Rather than reality, the stone houses under construction on the right and the boat on the horizon resemble stage properties from a theatre performance or a fantasy scene from the artist’s dreams. A distinct finesse is the last white house with one black window, which, however, was not the artist’s invention, but according to the photographs was inspired by an existing building.
Le Fret II is the second work of this subject-matter, the first was Le Fret (1959, black chalk on paper, 50,6 × 66 cm, National Gallery in Prague), which is of larger format and monochrome colours as if depicted under moonlight. In the presented work, Le Fret II, Zrzavý developed his sophisticated colour style based on earthy and contrasting tones simultaneously, which stands out most strongly in the motif of the dark facade of one of the houses and the illuminated pier. The painting was exhibited at IV. exhibition of Czechoslovak fine art at the Prague Castle Riding School (1959–1960, cat. No. 138) and subsequently sold through the shop of the Czechoslovak Fine Arts Fund. Assessed during consultations by PhDr. R. Michalová, Ph.D., and prof. J. Zemina. The expertise by PhDr. K. Srp is attached.