Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza - Inicio

Versión española

Buy tickets

Masterworks from Budapest. From the Renaissance to the Avant-Garde

From 18 February to 28 May 2017

Lucas Cranach, the Elder
Salome with the Head of Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1526-1530
Oil on panel. 88.4 x 58.3 cm
Budapest, Museum of Fine Arts

Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection

Charles Demuth
The Primrose
Tempera on cardboard
42.5 x 31.7 cm
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
Numero de inventario
INV. Nr. 522 (1981.42)

More information about this work

Like most members of the first generation of American Modernists, Charles Demuth spent long periods in Paris, where he came into contact with the avant-garde literary and art circles. He soon became particularly receptive to all kinds of influences, which he assimilated in an intelligent blend of European references and characteristically American subject matter. During his first stay in the French capital, in 1907, he had been attracted by Fauve painting, whose colours and expressive forms influenced his artistic beginnings. On his second visit in 1912 he discovered Cubism. During this period he frequented the company of fellow American painter Marsden Hartley, who introduced him to the New York circle of Alfred Stieglitz. On returning he made illustrations for Émile Zola’s Nana, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Mask of the Red Death, and his linear style earned him considerable prestige.

The Primrose is a delicate and strange painting in small format that is quite unknown. It depicts one of these plants in a clay flowerpot viewed through a window. The vertical and horizontal wooden bars of the window frame convey a certain idea of order, while the off-centre position of the plant adds a touch of mystery to the composition. The dark background suggests that the primrose is in an indoor setting, positioned next to the glass to receive the light, and that we are therefore viewing it from the outside. The painting is less precise, with more blurred contours than the rest of the painter’s compositions, though it is one of the most visually arresting. The colour is restricted to a palette of blacks, grayish greens and various yellow and orange tones, and attests to the formal concerns the artist had learned from Cézanne.

The work belonged to a collector from Columbus, Ferdinand Howald (1856–1934), who gave it to the Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, where it remained for several decades.

Paloma Alarcó

Go to the shop

Recommended artists

Recommended works

© 2009 Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Paseo del Prado 8, 28014 Madrid, España

We use our own cookies and those of third-parties to analyze the use of our website and display personalized advertising. If you continue browsing, we will consider that you consented to its use. For more information see our Cookie Policy.