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The lunch


Oil on canvas
92 x 65 cm
Musée national d'art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou
AM 1984-585
Entrusted to the Musée national Fernand Léger

Two women rest in a peaceful interior, decorated with everyday objects that have been reduced to their basic forms. No anecdote disturbs this canvas. The vertical composition stabilised by the horizontal figure of one of the women is exemplary of Fernand Léger’s draw to Classicism during the postwar years. Following Cézanne’s precept, for whom nature had to be handled “by cylinder, sphere and cone”, Léger rearranged reality in stages – from the drawing right through to the final canvas (preserved at the Museum of Modern Art in New York) – working on preparatory sketches along the way, of which this is a typical example. The contrast of forms and colours, search for a formal synthesis refusing naturalist expression and loss of details that likens the human body to objects embody Léger’s search for post-Cubist painting. This must capture, by plastic means, the quintessence of modern life, fitting squarely all the while in the history of art through a Classical scene worthy of the Odalisques by Ingres whom he admired.
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