Juan Gris, Spanish, 1887-1927
Title: Pierrot
Date: 1921
Medium: Oil on canvas
115 x 73 cm
Signed: lower right: Juan Gris 10-21
Credit Line: Bequeathed, Máire MacNeill Sweeney, 1987
Object Number: NGI.4521
DescriptionJuan Gris trained in his native Madrid before moving to Paris in 1906. He remained in France for most of his life. In Paris, he became associated with a circle of artists that included Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Inspired by their work and methods he became a Cubist artist. In the early 1920s Gris contracted pneumonia and it was during a period of convalescence at Bandol on the Côte d’Azur that he painted Pierrot. The motif of the Pierrot was one that he included in numerous works, as had artists such as Picasso, Paul Cézanne and Antoine Watteau before him. This melancholic clown character from the Commedia dell’Arte seemed to embody the romantic idea of the alienated artist. Here, the Pierrot is positioned at a café-table on which rest musical instruments, a newspaper and a glass. His masked face is echoed in miniature in the form of the glass. Both the figure and the still-life elements are reduced to a series of overlapping planes of black, grey, brown, white and ochre. The picture has a graphic, collage-like quality, enhanced by the minimalist palette and the ‘L’ denoting Le Journal.

March 2016
ProvenanceDaniel-Henry Kahnweiler; Galerie Simon, Paris, 1923; Dr G.F. Reber, Lausanne, 1925; Galerie Simon, Paris; Jean-Claude Anex, Lausanne; Galerie D. Bénador, Geneva; John L. Sweeney, 1946; Collection Mr. and Mrs. John Sweeney, Corofin, County Clare, 1967-1986; Máire MacNeill Sweeney; bequeathed, Máire MacNeill Sweeney, 1987
Exhibition HistoryJuan Gris, Galerie Simon, Paris, 1923

Exposition Rétrospective Juan Gris, Galerie Simon, Paris, 1928

Juan Gris, Kunsthaus, Zurich, 1933

Juan Gris, Galerie d'Art Moderne, Basel, 1945

Acquisitions 1986-1988, National Gallery of Ireland, 1988

Juan Gris, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, September - November 1992; Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart, 18 December 1992 - 14 February 1993; Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, April - June 1993

French 19th and 20th Century Paintings from the National Gallery of Ireland: Corot to Picasso, Daimaru Museum, Tokyo, 5 September - 17 September 1996; Daimaru Museum, Kyoto, 10 October - 22 October 1996; Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Yamanashi, 26 October - 2 December 1996; Daimaru Museum, Umeda,Osaka, 22 January - 9 February 1997; Aomori Municpal Gallery of Art, Aomori, 2 April - 20 April 1997

A Case for Painting, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 26 June - 2 November 1997

Juan Gris, Paintings and Drawings 1910-1927, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reine Sofia, Madrid, 22 June - 19 September 2005

The Dead and the Living in Picasso, Museu Picasso, Barcelona, 20 November 2008 - 1 March 2009

Analysing Cubism, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 19 February - 19 May 2013; Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 20 June - 1 September 2013
Label TextJuan Gris moved to Paris in 1906. Inspired by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, he became a Cubist. Like many avant-garde artists, Gris was drawn to the figure of the Pierrot. This melancholy clown came to embody the idea of the artist as outsider. In this painting, Gris presents the Pierrot by a café-table. Resting on the table are musical instruments, a newspaper, and a glass, which is similar in shape to the Pierrot’s masked face. The sombre planes of colour give the composition a collage-like appearance.

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