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Femme au Vase

Fernand Léger

Artwork Details

Femme au Vase
Fernand Léger
lithograph on paper
11 1/8 in x 9 in (28.26 cm x 22.86 cm);19 1/2 in x 14 5/16 in (49.53 cm x 36.35 cm)
Bequest of Florence L. Stol

On Display

Not currently on display


Fernand Léger's experiences as a member of the Engineers Corps during the First World War were crucial to the formations of his life-long fascination with simple everyday objects. Léger was naturally attracted to the world of machines and often abstracted mechanical elements for use in his compositions. Léger saw the partnership of men and machines as the key leitmotif of 20th-century life.Léger's working method was in some ways the reverse of that used by Picasso and Braque. Instead of basing his composition on a single coherent scene or still life, Léger created a solid unified whole by bringing together individual and diverse elements from different sources. Like a skilled mechanic putting together a finely crafted machine, the artist created complex, tightly knit compositions of classical balance and harmony.

Subject Matter:

This work is likely an early exploration of a scene that Fernand Léger would paint, draw and print numerous times throughout the 1920s when he was preoccupied with the theme of the female figure and other representational scenes. At this time, he moved away from the purely abstract art he created in the pre-war era, to capturing the renewed order of the world, dominated by machines and technology. The precision of the curved forms and lines he uses to depict this woman holding a vase—the modeling of which makes her look metallic—reflect the classicism that became important Léger. In addition to these personal interests, the print shows geometric shapes and vaguely grid-like background, reflecting cultural influences of the time in modernity and a somewhat art-deco inspired sense of architecture.

Physical Description:

In this print we see a three-quarter length portrait of a woman holding a large vase. She holds the vase to her left with her right arm stretching across her torso to secure it. She wears a beaded necklace and a dress with a pleated skirt and her hair falls behind her shoulder on the left. The belly of the vase is decorated with a large black diamond and the neck and rim with two solid and one dashed horizontal lines. The background also includes several horizontal and vertical lines. A thin border has been drawn around the whole scene.

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