General Paintings

Leonor Fini

Leonor (Eleonora) Fini (French/Argentine, 1907-1996) Portrait of Myles Sherman Lowell

NEW YORK, NY -- Leonor Fini was born in Buenos Aires in 1907 and spent her formative years with her mother in Trieste, Italy. Highly intelligent and astute from a young age, the self-trained artist arrived in Paris in the early 1930s, where she mingled with the Surrealists including Man Ray, Max Ernst, Victor Brauner and Paul Eluard (she had already become acquainted with de Chirico, who was an important and early influence for the young artist, during a brief period in Milan). Although she frequently exhibited alongside her peers and became a popular figure in the Parisian art world, she never considered herself a part of the Surrealist movement. Ultimately, she carved her own path as an autonomous woman in a male-dominated art world.

Interest and recognition have exploded over the last decade for Fini and other notable surrealist women artists, among them Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington and Gertrude Abercrombie. Many of their paintings share themes exploring gender and sexuality, with Fini is perhaps best known for subverting normative gender roles and embracing female empowerment. This subject matter was explored in the critically acclaimed survey of her work, Leonor Fini: Theatre of Desire, 1930-1990, at the Museum of Sex in 2018-2019. While most discernible in her dream-like compositions, where the artist depicts herself and other women as ethereal sphinx, warriors, or goddesses, these themes are also evident in works of a less surrealist quality, as in Portrait of Myles Sherman Lowell. The handsome sitter is depicted with a passive gaze and assumes the role of muse, with Fini firmly rejecting this preconceived role for herself and all women. Power and agency belong to the artist, who asserts her independence while presenting the viewer with an honest portrait of a friend, Myles Lowell.

In addition to being a groundbreaking feminist artist, Leonor Fini is remembered for her penchant for socializing and the meaning she assigned to friendships and her close circle, including her cats. This sentiment is something she would have shared with Myles Lowell, a sociable person with a love for animals, above all his many Schnauzers.

Special Collections: The Estate of Myles Lowell

A highlight of the November 19, 2020 auction of The Estate of Myles Lowell is Portrait of Myles Sherman Lowell by Leonor Fini.

Lot 17
Leonor (Eleonora) Fini
French/Argentine, 1907-1996
Portrait of Myles Sherman Lowell
Signed Leonor Fini (lr)
Oil on canvas
16 1/4 x 13 1/8 inches
Accompanied by a certificate from Richard Overstreet. The work will be included in the supplement to the forthcoming catalogue raisonné.
Estimate: $4,000-6,000
The Estate of Myles Sherman Lowell
Auction Nov 19, 2020

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Portrait of specialist Milan Tessler
Cataloguer, Paintings Department
General Paintings
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