Table by a Window

Jean Metzinger (French, Nantes 1883–1956 Paris)

Oil on canvas
32 in. × 25 3/4 in. (81.3 × 65.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, The M. L. Annenberg Foundation, Joseph H. Hazen Foundation Inc., and Joseph H. Hazen Gifts, 1959
Accession Number:
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
  • Description

    Jean Metzinger was a member of the Puteaux group (so-called because they frequently met in this suburb to the west of Paris), disciples of Cubism centered on the artist brothers Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Marcel Duchamp, and Jacques Villon. Not only was he a practitioner of the style but also one of its primary theoreticians, together with his close friend Albert Gleizes with whom he co-authored the treatise Du Cubisme, published in 1912. Further, he was a member of the Section d'Or group, whose intellectual, pseudo-scientific theories of composition and abstraction based on the geometric principle of the Golden Section interested him greatly. Both the Puteaux group and the Section d'Or influenced French Art Deco aesthetics, especially notable in the work produced by Louis Süe and André Mare's Compagnie des Arts Français which often included artwork or designs made by members of these two groups (Mare was himself a painter associated with Cubism).

    Throughout his career, Metzinger showed a strong predilection for variations on a theme. During the period 1916-19, still-life constituted one such theme. This painting depicts an arrangement of objects: a vase of flowers, a glass with an absinthe spoon, a pipe, a newspaper ("L'Heure"), and a playing card, all placed on a table next to a window. The locale is possibly Metzinger's studio in Meudon (a suburb to the southwest of Paris). The composition, with its distorted space, strongly-defined planes, and broad shapes rendered in flat colors, suggests the influence of Synthetic Cubism. The prominence of bold patterns emphasizes the decorative quality of the work, while the heavy texture of the paint creates an animated pictorial surface.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): Metzinger/ 11-17

  • Provenance

    [Léonce Rosenberg (Galerie "L'Effort Moderne"), Paris, probably by 1918]; [Galerie Fricker, Paris, until 1957]; Joseph H. Hazen, New York (1957–59); [New Gallery, New York, 1959]

  • Exhibition History

    Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "The Cubist Epoch," December 15, 1970–February 21, 1971, no. 215 (as "Still Life").

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Cubist Epoch," April 9–June 7, 1971, no. 215.

    Iowa City. University of Iowa Museum of Art. "Jean Metzinger in Retrospect," August 31–October 13, 1985, no. 89.

    Archer M. Huntington Art Gallery, University of Texas at Austin. "Jean Metzinger in Retrospect," November 10–December 22, 1985, no. 89.

    David and Alfred Smart Gallery, University of Chicago. "Jean Metzinger in Retrospect," January 23–March 9, 1986, no. 89.

    Pittsburgh. Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute. "Jean Metzinger in Retrospect," March 29–May 25, 1986, no. 89.

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Painters in Paris: 1895 1950," March 8–December 31, 2000, extended to January 14, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 39).

    Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," September 14–November 24, 2002, no. 24.

    Tokyo. Bunkamura Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris: Paintings from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York," December 7, 2002–March 9, 2003, no. 24.

    Roslyn Harbor. Nassau County Museum of Art. "Picasso and the School of Paris 1900 1950," November 19, 2006–February 4, 2007, unnumbered cat. (p. 7).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of French Art Deco," August 4, 2009–January 23, 2011, no catalogue.

  • References

    Carlton Lake and Robert Maillard, eds. Dictionary of Modern Painting. 3rd rev. and enl. ed. New York, 1964, ill. p. 234, (color) [1956 ed., ill. p. 185].

    Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 3, XIX–XX Centuries. New York, 1967, pp. 238–39, ill.

    Enrico d'Anna. Tabacco storia arte. Rome, 1983, p. 251, ill.

    Joann Moser and Daniel Robbins. Jean Metzinger in Retrospect. Exh. cat., University of Iowa Museum of Art. Iowa City, 1985, pp. 72–73, no. 89, ill.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History