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The MechanicEnlarge image

The Mechanic, 1920

Fernand Léger
French, 1881 - 1955
oil on canvas
116 x 88.8 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada (no. 14985)
© Estate of Fernand Léger / SODRAC (2013)

This is Fernand Léger's most fully resolved treatment of the subject of the mechanic, a man at home in the world of machines that characterized the twentieth century. A symbol of the future, the mechanic is shown at rest, smoking a cigarette in front of an abstract scaffolding painted in black and white with crisp, bright touches of colour. In contrast to the flat geometric background, the monumental figure of the mechanic is modelled in relief, with particular attention paid to the broad shoulders, muscular arms, sleek hair, and carefully groomed moustache. The static pose and simplified volumes give his body a sense of machine-like precision, while the tattoo, rings, and jaunty angle of the hand holding the cigarette convey the self-confidence of the working man.

Provenance 

1920 – 1949/08
Fernand Léger (1881–1955), Paris, France [1]

1949/08 – 1966
Galerie Louis Carré (Louis Carré, 1897–1977), Paris, France, purchased from Fernand Léger [2]

1966 – 1966/10
Anstalt für Alte und Moderne Kunst, Schaan, Liechtenstein [3]

1966/10 –
National Gallery of Canada, purchased from Anstalt für Alte und Moderne Kunst through Louis Carré [4]

Notes 

[1]See note [2]

[2]The painting wasincluded in an exhibition at the Galerie Louis Carré in 1948 [“Fernand Léger. Exposition rétrospective 1905-1948.” Galerie Louis Carré, Paris, June 11- July 11, 1948, cat. no.5]. According to Carré's grandson Patrick Bongers, his grandfather acquired the work directly from the artist in August 1949 and sold it to the Anstalt für Alte und Moderne Kunst in 1966 [email by Patrick Bongers, Galerie Louis Carré, Paris, to A. Kausch, NGC Provenance Research Project, Oct.28, 2008, NGC curatorial file].

[3] See note [2].

[4] The NGC purchased the painting from the Anstalt für Alte und Moderne Kunst through Louis Carré in October 1966 [Accession log, NGC curatorial file].

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