Mondrian Reconstruction


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December 2012 - The fifth proof has been sent for printing. I think it's done. I have ordered 5 copies of this one; there were 3 copies of p4 (one of which I sent to Charles Darwent); and one each of the first three proofs. Eleven copies, in various states, in total. The intention is to publish in February 2014, sending copies to many potentially interested parties and then make it generally available on Lulu.


August 2011 - My book The Missing Mondrians is published at last. This is the only copy in existence.
Fourth proof version printed July 2012 - it's nearly ready.


The idea behind this page is to reconstruct the lost Mondrians. This inclination was brought on by reading of the fate of the 1921 B118 and B119 abstracts: Composition with Large Yellow Plane and Composition with Large Red Plane . The Catalogue Raisonné (CR) describes them as 'lost in fire during the acts of war'. They were both owned by Wim and Tonia Stieltjes and from 1932 on loan to Marlow Moss.

In addition to B118+9, the lost list includes another twenty-two works, the victims of a variety of fates. Here's a breakdown:

In detailing the works, I will categorise them as:


[November 2010] Six attempts so far, B118(?), B157, B158, B161, B164, B177. Before going on, I will attempt to find better versions of the B&W photographs available, hopefully the full rather than just the cropped images as that might help with clues on size and colour. The ones to try for are:


[January 2011] Another six done and seven eight more to go.

See also the Facsimiles.

As noted in the page on materials and techniques, Mondrian regarded the lines as more important than the colours. Blotkamp quotes a letter he wrote to Alfred Roth, a prospective purchaser, in September 1929, 'Let me know whether you prefer blue and yellow, white and grey, or perhaps red, a bit of blue and yellow and white and grey. The latter works with red in them are more "real", the others more spiritual, more or less.' While it is important to get the colours in the reconstructions as close as possible to the originals, the structure is key.


[February 2011] I have misled myself on B148 and B149. The CR entry states 'repr.col.97' which I had taken to mean 'colour', but, I guess, means 'column' or something equally unhelpful. It did seem unlikely that a 1924 publication would have colour reproductions, but optimism overcame reason.

Five Four left to go.

[June 2011] I am trying to finish off the process and then self-publish a small booklet on the process. My efforts to obtain better photographs to work from for the last four paintings have been ignored completely.

B93 B94 B118 B119 B148 B149 B157 B158 B161 B164 B171 B174 B175 B177 B180 B181 B184 B186 B202 B242

B118 and B119

The pictures were exhibited in Paris in 1921 and in Amsterdam in 1922. CR shows images from the Paris Œuvres nouvelles exhibition, published in the Bulletin de L'Effort Moderne, 1924.

Here are the original images from CR.

[Nov 2010] There seems to be some confusion in CR over which is which: in the main catalogue listing they are in the order here with B118 shown in full and the bottom of B119 obscured by a handrail. When describing the installation photograph shown below, this is reversed, with B109, B116 and B119 on the 'upper row'; B117 and B118 below, specifically B118 'lower right'. This is significant because I have based the reconstruction so far on the installation version, making the picture top right B119, i.e. the one with the 'Large Red Plane'. Having completed my first draft colour reconstruction of B119 on that basis, I'll stick with that for now.
B118 B119
Paintshop Pro includes a tool to correct perspectives which gives these results.
This gives a reasonable idea of the layout, though CR does not suggest size. I suppose that if I could obtain a copy of the 1924 Bulletin, depending on the images available, it might be possible to compare the Mondrians with other pictures on show for which sizes are known. There is a copy on sale for $125 at Fatbaba, but I'll have to try libraries.
B118 B119
Back to colour identification in a while. Here's progress from Mondrian in New York which has the original picture of the 'Maîtres du Cubisme' exhibition at L'Effort Moderne, Paris. That's clearly the source of the image above because of the handrail obscuring the bottom of B119. Cubisme Cubisme
Applying perspective correction to the wall of Mondrians results in the first image. There are five on show, identified in CR as shown in the seond image. lost wall lost numbers
B108 is the picture owned until recently by Yves Saint Laurent.
B116 was in the Stephen Mazoh gallery when the CR was written.
B117 is at the Dallas Museum of Art.
B108 B116 B117
B116 probably offers the most useful reference for guessing the size and colouration of the lost paintings.

The titles provide the starting point: B118 Composition with Large Yellow Plane, and B119 Composition with Large Red Plane.

B116 is 88.5 x 72.5 cm. This hadn't occurred to me until I compared the two versions of B116, but as the photograph was not taken with the camera perpendiclar to the wall, the photograph needs a further adjustment to match that ratio in the image of B116. After puzzling some time with the aid of a calculator, I arrived at this version of the wall.

Note that the light strip on the right side of all the pictures is the edge of the canvas. This should be ignored for the size calulations and, of course, for the colours.
B116 wall
Starting with B119 (Red), this comes out at an estimated 76x65cm

B118 (yellow) is tricker as it is not possible to tell how much of the picture is hidden behind the handrail. The width comes out as 53cm and assuming (fairly arbitrarily) that the proportions of the canvas were similar to B116 (1.22) and B119 (1.17), the height will be around 63cm.
B116 B119 B118
Here's my first attempt at B119.

I'm a bit stuck on the colours to apply and so will concentrate my efforts elsewhere and return to these later.
[Nov 2010] After some vacillation on the colours, this is my first draft of B119. I then checked the Catalogue and realised that, as described above, there is some confusion over which is B118 (Large Yellow) and B119 (Large Red). No matter, I'll stick with this rendering for now.
B119 B119
[Feb 2011] And here's a first draft for B118. I'm looking out for a compatible handrail to photograph and paste in. I am rather happier with B118 than B119. B118

Interesting pieces

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B149 "Komposition mit Gelb, Zinnober, Schwarz, Blau und verschiedenen grauen und weissen Tönen"
(Composition with Yellow, Cinnabar, Black, Blue and Various Grey and White Tones), 1922

Google translate suggests Composition with yellow, vermilion, black, blue and different shades of gray and white.
Oil on canvas, 83.7x50.2 cm
Whereabouts unknown. This picture was in the Hannover Provinzialmuseum, but was confiscated by the Nazi authorities in 1937, presumably in their cull of 'decadent' art.
S(655), O-, B-

It looks like an interesting piece with the splash of colour within the black (?) rectangle an unusual feature in the works of this time, pointing to the very late pieces, notably Broadway Boogie Woogie.

The picture was shown in colour in De Stijl (vol.2 p.395 of the 1968 reprint). Photographs from Blotkamp, the 1926 exhibition at the Landesmuseum, Hanover together with B174, below, the second from Entartete Kunst, Munich, 1937. There are some other images of the piece in the Bildarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz, but those should not be necessary if I can find it in De Stijl.

The De Stijl image, showing Mondrian with the painting, is not colour.

Here's a first attempt. It is difficult to guess what is happening on the right of the picture. The title requires Yellow, Cinnabar (red), Black, Blue and Various Grey and White Tones.

I have reduced the size of the images shown as the number is growing. After my first attempt, I found another version of the De Stijl photograph. This includes both Nelly van Doesburg and what I believe to be B146. In coming up with my second version, I have also borne in mind B150: there are numerous examples of Mondrian using design motifs over several contemporanious pieces and so the yellow and black section might possibly have been repeated. I'll go with this version for now.
B149 B149 B149 B149 My B149 B149 B146 B150 My B149
B161 Tableau No.IX with Blue, Red and Yellow, 1925
Oil on canvas, 63x43 cm

Whereabouts unknown, no suggestions of an available colour image.
S-, O-, B-

One of the works consigned to Sophie Kuppers in Hanover / Dresden, it was sold (?) in 1925 to Ida Bienert, who commissioned B167. The German Wikipedia page on Ida Bienert states that her collection was preserved during the war and mentions a couple of sources that might be worth looking at.

Carmean's interpretation of PM's symbols on sketches makes the colour layout clear and so this is a good candidate for the first colour reconstruction.

The third image is my drawing of the layout: the black lines are unusually wide. The fourth is the final version with colour. I have used the colours of B156.
B161 B161 B161 B161
B171 Komposition III, 1926
Oil on canvas, 50x50 cm
Whereabouts unknown
S483, O368, B-

Sent to Kunstausstellung Kühl, Dresden, 1926 with B169, B170 and B172. No colour image known.
Full installation photograph which includes B154 found November 2010.
B171 Dresden, 1926
B171 continued

Here are B154, the two pictures with perspective corrected and B171'squared' to 50x50 with the lines blackened.

I'll look for a better version of B154 (found in Meuris) to use for the final colours. The next stage is to analyse the shades of grey on the two works and interpret (or guess) the colours on B171.

A higher-resolution image of the B&W image would be useful, but based on the readings so far, the top right area seems to be blue rather than the yellow I had supposed. The bottom line looks like black, yellow, white with all the other areas white. That gives the fourth image (waiting for a better 'white'), but there is too much uncertainty to be satisfied with this as a conclusion.

I believe from the picture's URL that it appeared in Volume 30 Issue 1, March 2007 of the Oxford Art Journal, though it is not clear from the Table of Contents which article it might have been associated with.
B154 Dresden 1926 B171 B171
B184 Composition, 1927
Medium and size not known
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

Sent to Kunstausstellung Kühl, Dresden, 1927. Image from a 1929 exh., Frankfurt.

CR says of the exhibition 'nineteen works were shown, nine of which can be identified ... B110?, B113/B153, B133/B155?, B158?, B159, B160, B162, B163?, B164?, B172?, B169?, B170?, B171?, B184, B185, B186, B187 and B204.'

For the photograph, it lists B184, B185, B186, B160, B162 and B159. The photograph is credited to Grete Leistikow. Thanks Grete.

I have reconstructed the photograph's layout from the images on this site.
B184 B184 Der Stuhl
B184 and B186 continued

B186 is another lost PM and so it makes sense to consider both. B184 and B186 are 'size unknown'. B185 is approx 40x50cm, so that makes B184 around 38x56cm and B186 50x52cm.

Colours are (as usual) tricky to judge. The large coloured area in B185 (top left) is blue, suggesting that the large colour areas in B184 and B186 are not blue and thus probably red or black. The only red area in B185 (bottom right) is too small in the picture I have to draw a conclusion.

In both cases, it is not clear what is happening at the bottom of the piece: most of the pictures of the time have a black line and thin lines or blocks of colour beneath. I have made a start on the structures, but will leave the colours for now.

[Feb 2011] As noted in the summary above, the photograph with the chairs is an installation photograph from Der Stuhl, Frankfurt, 1929 and appeared in Das Neue Frankfurt, March 1929. The source of the B186 image is a photograph in the Van Doesburg-Van Moorsel Archive.
The V&A has a copy of Das Neue Frankfurt. I have written to the Archive in an effort to obtain a copy of the full photograph.

[Jun 2011] No sign of a reply and so with publication in mind, and in hope of eventually getting a decent photograph and finishing the job, here are the drafts. I'm guessing there's at least some yellow in B186.
B184 B186
B202 "Farbige Aufteilung", 1928
Oil on canvas, 41.2x32.9 cm
Whereabouts unknown. Confiscated by the Nazi authorities in 1937 from the Museum Folkwang, Essen and registered as #16173.
S, O, B

Google translate renders Farbige Aufteilung as, coloured division.

No suggestions of an available colour image, but check the 1991 reconstruction.

There's a very small reproduction of the full photograph of Room G from from Entartete Kunst in CR, now added, it seems unlikely that this is the source of the B&W image of B202, so the search continues.

The black and white is done with the colour to follow. The colour block at the bottom, seemingly without a black surround looks leading edge.

[June 2011] Looking at the bottom left again, the corner might be a different shade of grey from the others, suggesting yellow: I'll go with that for a first attempt.
B202 B202 My B202
B242 Composition with Double Lines and Yellow, 1934
Oil on canvas, size not known
Originally owned by Emil and Clara Friedrich-Jezler, Zürich, it was "probably burnt in transportation by car during World War II". (CR vol.II p370)
S533, O415, B-

The photograph is of Mondrian in 1933 with B241 and B242 in his studio at rue du Départ, Paris.

B242 should be straightforward to reconstruct. The diagonal of B241 is 113cm: on that basis, B242 measures approx 75x100cm. I have drawn up a composition based on those measures, but perhaps it just needs straightening up with a yellow insert.
B242 PM with B241 B242


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B158 Tableau No.VI with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1925
Oil on canvas, 44x54 cm
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

There is no available image of this painting, only the sketch. It is one of several works (along with 149, 157, 161, 164, 174...) consigned to Sophie Küppers in Hanover and Dresden in the 1920s. Some were confiscated by the Nazis (149...), others presumably just lost during the war.

Having deciphered the colour coding with the help of Carmean, B158 and B164 are worth a try. B158 has measurements, B164, not so I will apply the dimensions of one to the other.

B158 is my second reconstruction attempt. The first, B161, was a good starting point and informs B158. Of particular note is the thickness of the black lines which is consistent in B161, although you would not guess that from the sketch. It is a fair assumption that the same can be applied to B158.
The bottom row does not look particularly elegant at first sight, but it seems pretty clear that it's yellow, blue, white, white and thick lines are assumed. I'll take a view when completed.

I'm not much impressed by the colour version either.
B158 B158 B158
B164 No.XII with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1925
Oil on canvas, size cm
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

See B158, above.

The third reconstruction. Sizing B164 by reference to B158 (which is 44x54cm) gives an estimate of 66cm square. The grey and yellow are the wrong way around in my sketch.
B164 B164 B164


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B93 Composition with Colour Planes and Grey Lines 2, 1918
Oil on canvas, 49x61 cm
Owned by Helene Kröller-Müller / Helene Brückmann-Kröller. Lost by fire c.1944
S-, O-, B-

No suggestions for a colour image, the B&W image is from a photograph in the V. Huszár estate.
B94 Composition with Colour Planes and Grey Lines 3, 1918
Oil on canvas, 67x81.5 cm
Owned by Helene Kröller-Müller / Helene Brückmann-Kröller. Lost by fire c.1944
S-, O-, B-

No suggestions for a colour image.
B93 and B94 continued
[28th Nov 2010] The starting point must be a decent copy of B92, which Blotkamp has provided. Thereafter, it is just a question of being bold and not losing sight of the fact that the colours are (relatively) unimportant.

Here's my first draft of B93. It is noticable that in tessellating B92, PM avoided adjacent repetitions of the same colour almost entirely: there is an overlap of blue planes at top middle and the whites and greys have different rules, but that's about it. Judging from the B&W image of B93, it looks as though this does have adjacent reds, something strange happening at the top in red and at the middle right in blue. This could be because I have misinterpreted where the painting ends and the frame or shadows on the photograph begin.

B94 might prove trickier because the photograph is much paler, as noted above, Mondrian commented that in the De Stijl reproduction, 'The yellow is quite pale'... I've had a try - I think there's too much white and grey in it, but it provides a starting point.
B92 B92 B93 B94
B157 and B140 Tableau No.V with Red, Black, Gray and Blue, 1925 (second state)
Oil on canvas, 55x65 cm
Whereabouts unknown
S470, O344, B-

No known colour image.

There is no mention of yellow in the title, though the sketch suggests that the narrow panel on the right might be yellow. I'll try with and without.
B157 B157 B157 B157
B174 Schilderij No.2 "mit Blau, Gelb, Schwarz und verschiedenen hellgrauen und weissen Tönen", 1926
Oil on canvas, 50.1x51.2 cm
Signed lower right on blue(?): PM 26
Whereabouts unknown. loaned by Sophie Küppers to the Hannover Provinzialmuseum, confiscated by the Nazi authorities in 1937 and stored in Niederschönhausen as #7034.
S492, O378, B-

Google translate renders this as, Yellow with blue, black and various shades of light gray and white .

Installation photograph from Hannover 1929 shows B174 and B149. The second shows B173 and B174 at a 1926 exhibition in Amsterdam: B173 just has a small splash of blue.

In December 2010 I added signature details for all the abstracts from 1920 onwards. In a few cases, this one in particular, that gives a clue for reconstruction: CR suggests that the lower right is blue, so let's go with that.
B174 B149 B173 B174
B175 Composition, 1926(?)
Medium and size not known
Whereabouts unknown, no suggestions of an available colour image.
S-, O-, B-

B175 is shown next to B178, a stage set model which is 35x40cm. If the height of the model is 35cm, then B175 is around 36.5x39cm.

If the colours on the stage set reconstruction are to be believed, the colour in B175 is closest to the bottom left of the model and thus red.
B175 B175 B175 B178 reconstruction
B177 Tableau II, 1926
Oil on canvas, 50.1x50.1 cm
Whereabouts unknown, no suggestions of an available colour image. Sent to Katherine S. Dreier, New York in 1926, exhibited in Brooklyn, New York, Buffalo and Toronto in 1926-27, sold by Dreier in 1927.
S-, O-, B-

The shade of the grey image suggests yellow.
B177 B177
B180 Composition, 1926/27
Medium and size not known
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

Only known from a photograph in Harry Holtzman's collection.

The colours are going to be difficult to call on this one. In addition, are the vertical lines stopping short of the top of the picture? And what colour is the horizontal line at the bottom: is it black (in which case, what colour is the short line immediately above it on the right?); or is it a groundbreaking non-black? Neither option seems plausible.

For this and B181 I emailed the Mondrian Trust (Feb 2011) to ask whether they had the original photographs. They referred me to the Holtzman Deposit at Yale, where I am trying to find a contact.

[Jun 2011] No reply, taking a guess for publication.
B180 My B180
B181 Composition, 1926/27
Medium and size not known
Whereabouts unknown
S491, O377, B

Only known from a photograph in Harry Holtzman's collection.

I like red for this one, though blue is equally likely.
B181 B181 B181
B186 Composition, 1927
Medium and size not known
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

Sent to Kunstausstellung Kühl, Dresden, 1927. Exhibited in 1929, Frankfurt. Image from the Van Doesburg-Van Moorsel Archives.

See B184 above.
B186 B186

No action required

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B148 "Composition 1922", 1922
Medium and size unknown
Whereabouts unknown, this picture is only known from a reproduction in De Stijl No.8.
S-, O-, B-

Temporary image, as CR states that the De Stijl reproduction was in colour in the edition reprinted in 1968 (vol.2 p.405). There's a copy in the V&A.

The De Stijl image is black and white and so reconstruction is necessary. I will use B129 from De Stijl as a reference.
B148 My B148 B129
B169 Komposition I: Lozenge with Three Lines, 1926
Oil on canvas, diagonal 112cm, sides 80x80 cm
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

B245 Composition No. II, 1934 / Composition (Blanc et Rouge), 1936
Oil on canvas, 59x56.5 cm
Bought by Paul Bittencourt, São Paulo, in 1958 and subsequently destroyed in a fire.
S549, O428, B-

The image is from Life Magazine Speaking of Pictures, 2nd July 1945. More details here.
B247 Composition with Double Line (unfinished), 1934
Oil on canvas, approx 55x55 cm
Whereabouts unknown, the work is only known from a 1934 photograph by Eugene Lux.
S-, O-, B-

As this is at such an early stage of development, there is little point in trying to reconstruct it.

No action possible

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B179 Cover Design for Polish translation of "Le Néo-Plasticisme", 1926
Whereabouts unknown
S-, O-, B-

No known images exist.

date edition copies cost comments
Aug 2011 1st draft 1 £3.88 + postage in stock
Aug 2011 2nd draft 1 £6.09 more expensive binding
Aug 2011 3rd draft 1   cover image inexplicably dark
Jul 2012 4th draft 3 £21.07 1 to Charles Darwent - 2 in stock: 1 clean, 1 with notes
Dec 2012 5th draft 5 £28.43 1 in stock, copies left at Mondrian exhibitions at Tate Liverpool and Turner Contemporary. 2 unaccounted for (I guess I left them at other galleries).
Dec 2014 1st edition 10 £51.69 7 in stock. 1 to the British Library, 1 to Nancy Troy, 1 unaccounted for. 5 being kept in reserve for the other British Deposits.
Mar 2015 1st edn, 2nd print 10 £35 + £11 awaiting delivery. 1 will be sent to Mark Caywood.

date to edition response
Jul 2012 Charles Darwent 4th draft email 24Jul12
May 2014 Turner Contemporary 5th draft none
Jul 2014 Tate Liverpool 5th draft none
Jan 2015 British Library 1st edn. letter 4th March
Feb 2015 Nancy Troy 1st edn. email 19th March

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