Fernand Léger

The Mechanic

This is a riveting study in contrast of colour and form. While the tubular shaped body of the figure is set against a complex, crisp geometry, the grisaille rendering of face and limbs is contrasted with lines of a metallic black sheen and blocks of colour. The mechanic’s powerful build, clean cut features and jet black hair, tattoo and rings denote him as a working class man. This work, painted at a pivotal moment in the artist's career – three years after his discharge from the French army – is the archetypical image of Léger's vision of modern life and a symbol of the machine age.

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]

[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].

The Mechanic
oil on canvas
116 x 88.8 cm
Credit line
Purchased 1966
Accession number