Robert Delaunay. Portuguese Still Life. 1915-1916. The Baltimore Museum of Art: Bequest of Saidie A. May, BMA 1951.286
“Portuguese Still Life” is one of twelve paintings Robert Delaunay executed while living in Portugal during World War I. Several years earlier, his friend, the poet and art critic Guillaume Apollinaire, sought to define a new art movement called Orphism, based on Delaunay’s manner of combining vivid Fauvist color with the analytic structure of Cubism. Throughout 1913, Delaunay continued to explore color, and achieved complete abstraction in a series of paintings depicting chromatic disks. However, by the time he painted Portuguese Still Life in 1915, he was again looking at real objects for inspiration.
Saidie May bought this large colorful painting at the Sidney Janis Gallery in New York, just a year before her death. She felt that it provided a link between the works in the Cone Collection and
her own holdings.
He sacrificed much of the children’s tuition and his wife’s precious roasts for the Renoir for which the thieves considered him an idiot. He HAD TO bargain: How much cash did they think he could account for? He hated doing business with amateurs and their “buyer” was so condescending. He loved what he loved and he loved the Renoir. If you can’t see why you would have been nothing to him.
In a fit of nerves his wife gave the Renoir to the maid.