After recuperating from a war injury in 1917, Léger embraced all that Paris had to offer. The Cirque Médrano, a circus permanently housed in Montmartre, was popular at the time, and Léger memorialized it in a major canvas, The Acrobats in the Circus (1918; Kunstmuseum Basel). In this highly finished preparatory oil study, the pencil lines used to square off the composition and transpose it to a larger scale are clearly visible. They also underscore the gridlike structure that became one of the main legacies of Cubism.
Inscription: Signed (lower left): F. LEGER Signed, dated, and titled (verso): LES ACROBATES dans / le Cirque – (Esquisse) / F. LEGER – 1918
the artist, Paris (1918; sold on October 11, 1918 for Fr 200, to Rosenberg); [Galerie L’Effort Moderne (Léonce Rosenberg), Paris, 1918–19; inv. no. 5991, photo no. 135; sold on February 28, 1919, for Fr 350, to Dutilleul]; Roger Dutilleul, Paris (1919–d. 1956); his nephew, Jean Masurel, Mouvaux (1956–d. 1991); his heirs, France (1991–98; sold in June 1998 to Lauder); Leonard A. Lauder, New York (from 1998)
Paris. Galerie L'Effort Moderne. "Oeuvre par Fernand Léger," February 5–28, 1919, no. 14 [probably this picture].
Paris. Musée National d'Art Moderne. "Fernand Léger: Exposition rétrospective, 1905–1949," October 6–November 13, 1949, no. 19.
Paris. Grand Palais. "Fernand Léger," October 1971–January 1972, no. 36.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection," October 20, 2014–February 16, 2015, no. 41.
Fernand Léger: Exposition rétrospective, 1905–1949. Exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris, 1949, unpaginated, no. 19.
André Verdet. Fernand Léger: Le dynamisme pictural. Geneva, 1955, unpaginated, no. 13, ill.
Robert L. Delevoy. Léger: Biographical and Critical Study. Geneva, 1962, p. 66, as the initial version.
Robert L. Füglister. "Fernand Léger: 'Akrobaten im Zirkus'; Einordnung und Interpretation." Jahresberichte (1964–66), p. 169, fig. 1.
Fernand Léger. Exh. cat., Grand Palais. Paris, 1971, p. 9, no. 36, ill. p. 54.
Robert L. Füglister. Fernand Léger: "Akrobaten im Zirkus"; Einordnung und Interpretation. Basel, 1971, p. 3, fig. 1.
Claude Laugier and Michèle Richet. Léger: Œuvres de Fernand Léger (1881–1955). Paris, 1981, p. 37, fig. c.
Georges Bauquier assisté de Nelly Maillard. Fernand Léger: Catalogue raisonné. Vol. 1, 1903–1919. Paris, 1990, p. 200, no. 110, ill. p. 201.
Christian Derouet, ed. Correspondances Fernand Léger–Léonce Rosenberg, 1917–1937. Paris, 1996, p. 261, inv. no. 5991, p. 285, no. 14.
"Objects Promised to the Museum during the Year 2012–2013." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, One Hundred Forty-third Annual Report of the Trustees for the Fiscal Year July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013 (2013), p. 46, as September 1918.
Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 233, 236.
Christopher Green inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, pp. 202, 208, 213, 319(3)n.28, (4)n.40, no. 41, ill. p. 212 (color).
Anna Jozefacka and Luise Mahler inCubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection. Ed. Emily Braun and Rebecca Rabinow. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2014, p. 273, fig. 40 (documented in Léonce Rosenberg's photo album of the artist's work in the stock of Galerie L'Effort Moderne, Paris).