This work belongs to Léger's "objects in space" series of the late 1920s and early 1930s. Although overlapping forms give the appearance of a flattened collage, volume is indicated by the shading on the sculpted hand and the undulating surface of the two-toned leaf. The interplay of space, along with the monumental scale of man-made and natural objects within the frame, reveals the artist's current interest in film techniques.
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower right): 29/ F. LEGER.; signed, dated, an inscribed (verso): NATURE MORTE/ 1er ETAT/ F. LEGER. 29
Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1946–d. 1967; her bequest to MMA)
Hartford, Conn. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Adelaide Milton de Groot Loan Collection," January 10–February 12, 1950, unnum. checklist (as "Still Life with Hand").
New York. Perls Galleries. "Masterpieces from the Collection of Adelaide Milton de Groot," April 14–May 3, 1958, no. 19 (as "Nature Morte à la Main").
Chiba City Museum of Art. "Modern European Paintings," June 13–July 18, 1986, no. 51 (as "Nature morte avec la main [Still Life with Hand]").
Nagoya City Art Museum. "Modern European Paintings," July 23–August 31, 1986, no. 51.
Matsumoto City Museum. "Modern European Paintings," September 4–23, 1986, no. 51.
Hiroshima Museum of Art. "Modern European Paintings," September 28–October 19, 1986, no. 51.
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. "Fernand Léger," May 29–September 29, 1997, unnumbered cat. (p. 168; as "Nature morte, 1er état").
Madrid. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. "Fernand Léger," October 28, 1997–January 12, 1998, unnumbered cat. (p. 128; as "Nature morte [1.er état]").
Roslyn Harbor, N. Y. Nassau County Museum of Art. "Reflections of Opulence: Art Nouveau to Art Deco," May 13–August 5, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 47; as "Still Life with Hand").
Pierre Descargues. Fernand Léger. Paris, 1955, ill. p. 93, as "Compas, feuille et main".
Eva Petrová. Fernand Léger. Prague, 1966, ill. p. 74.
Georges Bauquier, assisté de Irus Hansma, Claude Lefebvre du Preÿ, and Nelly Maillard. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 4, 1929–1931. Paris, 1995, pp. 42–43, no. 621, ill. (color), calls it "Nature morte 1er état".
Constance H. Schwartz inReflections of Opulence: Art Nouveau to Art Deco. Exh. cat., Nassau County Museum of Art. Roslyn Harbor, N. Y., 2001, pp. 47–48, 76, ill. (color).
A closely related painting, "Composition with Compass and Shell," also dated 1929, is in a private collection, Paris (Bauquier 1995, no. 622).