© ADAGP, Paris 2011 © cliché RMN Gérard Blot
Three musicians, circa 1930
Oil on canvas
238 x 230.5 cm
Donated by Nadia Léger and Georges Bauquier
Musée national Fernand Léger Inv. MNFL 96012
As a keen enthusiast of popular shows, Léger attended the rue de Lappe dances in Paris where small orchestras got the crowd up on their feet to the sound of the accordion, tuba and double bass. This large work of art was probably painted by Léger to decorate the platform of one such dance. But the project was abandoned and the canvas Léger rewhitened was rolled up and forgotten about in his studio. Georges Bauquier, a close associate of Léger, tells of how, when he set about tidying up the studio, he came across the roll in the folds of which he could see traces of a drawing and colours peeping through. Bauquier had the whitened pictorial surface removed and showed the finished piece to Léger – who gave it to him to show his gratitude. Kept in this state, with the wear from the scraping and lack of colours evident, this painting still reveals this faded appearance but also the artist’s skilled drawing technique. The theme of the three musicians, with placid face expressions and in their Sunday best, is picked up again in 1944 on a painting done in the United States and then more often to accompany the acrobats and dancers in the Circus series.
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