09-23-2016 09-23-2016
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2930B Boston
September 23, 2016 12:00PMCalender

Hans Erni (Swiss, 1909-2015) Mother and Child

Auction: American & European Works of Art - 2930B Location: Boston Date / Time: September 23, 2016 4:00PM


Hans Erni (Swiss, 1909-2015)

Mother and Child
Signed and dated "Jee 58 Erni" l.r.
Tempera on canvas, 39 x 19 in. (99.0 x 48.3 cm), framed.
Condition: Slight canvas deformation l.l., surface grime.

Provenance: A California estate to current owner.

N.B. Painter, sculptor, illustrator, and stage designer Hans Erni was Switzerland's most important 20th century artist. He trained at the Ecole des Arts et Métiers in Lucerne, the Académie Julian in Paris, and the Vereinigte Staatschulen für freie und angewandte Kunst in Berlin. During his early career Erni was deeply inspired by ancient Greek art, and often signed his paintings using the pseudonym François Grècque. However, by 1933, he joined the Abstraction-Création group, a loose, international association of artists based in Paris comprised of Joseph Albers, Alexander Calder, Wassily Kandisky, László Moholy-Nagy, and Sophie Tauber-Art, among others. At the end of the 1930s, Erni return to his hometown of Lucerne and worked on a number of public commissions, including the fresco The Three Graces of Lucerne that decorates the railway station and for the Landesausstellung in Zurich.

Although it is a later work, we can still see both a classical and abstract quality in this painting. The figure's elegant posture recalls the harmonious poses of Hellenistic sculpture, and the sweet expression of both the mother and child brings to mind the paintings of the Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli, who at the time was rediscovering the art of antiquity. Meanwhile the acid green colors and depthless background evoke early 20th century abstraction, as the figures seem to exist in a weightless emerald space. In this painting, Erni elegantly weds traditional figurative form and charged abstraction. The Hans Erni Museum, situated in the grounds of the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne, contains a large collection of the artist's work. The lot is accompanied by an e-mail from Doris Erni, descendant of the artist, confirming the authenticity of this painting.
Estimate $12,000-18,000

Frame dimensions: 48 x 28 1/2 in.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Sandro Botticelli, Alexander Calder, Doris Erni, Joseph Albers, Sophie Tauber-Art, N.B. Painter, Zurich, Paris