Sonia Delaunay: Portugaise assise (1915-16)

SONIA DELAUNAY (1885-1979), Portugaise assise (Seated Portuguese), signed and dated ‘SONIA DELAUNAY-TERK 1915-16’ (lower right), oil on canvas 30 5/8 x 37 ¾ in. (77.6 x 96 cm.), Painted in Portugal in 1915-1916, Image Source: Christie’s

“The artist’s main purpose in Portugaise assise is not simply to represent a local woman, at her work, but to study light – the particularly warm and clear light of northern Portugal, which Delaunay has divided and recomposed into a riotous cacophony of colour and movement that immerses the viewer in the raucous, sensual atmosphere of the sun-drenched Portuguese marketplace.

In Portugaise assise, the artist places abstract moving coloured discs around the sitter, generating movement and depth to create spaces and enhance the dynamic arrangement of colour. The overall tone is warm, with reds, oranges and yellows. The greens and blues are loaded with yellow and there is an interplay of simultaneous contrasts. Each primary colour gains in intensity alongside its complementary colour.

This combination of abstract and figurative motifs closely reflects Delaunay’s new artistic direction, combining figurative elements with abstraction, artistic research with folk art: ‘I tried to express the light, the richness and the strength of the colours of the women, of the local vegetables and fruits, before finally focussing on a single subject: the market teeming with life, colour, people, animals, vegetables, with the viaduct rising in the background… (Sonia Delaunay quoted in M. Hogg, Robert et Sonia Delaunay, exh. cat., Musée national d’art moderne, Paris, 1967, p. 152).


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12 Comments Add yours

  1. The description “combining figurative elements with abstraction, artistic research with folk art” resonates with the pictographs we recently saw in northern New Mexico. It was common for pictographs there to combine literal, abstract, and geometric elements.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. An interesting connection – thanks, Steve. 🙂


  2. I love the way in which the artist uses color and movement to portray the essence of the vibrant marketplace.


    1. Just found this in the ‘pending’ file. So sorry, Rosaliene. (and you know I am all about the color!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. penwithlit says:

    Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Beautiful rainbow colours!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the reblog, penwithlit. 😎


  4. Ana Daksina says:

    Informative and easy to read.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. Love the colour in this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So do I, Chris! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this artist’s work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love her work, too, Vivienne. More to come! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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