Séraphine Louis Tree of Paradise c. 1928

  • Not on view

A domestic worker who had labored for many years in a convent before becoming a housekeeper, Louis painted floral motifs on household items, canvases, and boards. Her talent was recognized by one of her employers, the German art critic, dealer, and collector Wilhelm Uhde. The title Tree of Paradise suggests a concern with religious themes, and the work’s arrangement of jewel-like leaves recalls the stained glass windows of Gothic churches. Louis flattened the elements of landscape into a single plane; a tree extends diagonally across water, as grass and sky weave together to create a decorative interplay of patterns.

Oil on canvas
6' 4 3/4" x 51 3/4" (194.9 x 130.5 cm)
Object number
Painting and Sculpture

Installation views

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Provenance Research Project

This work is included in the Provenance Research Project, which investigates the ownership history of works in MoMA's collection.

Wilhelm Uhde (1874-1947), Paris, c. 1928 [1]. Albert Lewin (1894-1968), New York, by 1953 [2]; Estate of Albert Lewin; sold through Parke-Bernet, New York to Sidney Janis, New York, December 12, 1968 [3]; acquired by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1971.

[1] Hans Körner and Manja Wilkens, Séraphine Louis 1864-1942: Biographie / Werkverzeichnis. Berlin: Reimer, 2009, no. 46, pp. 99-101.
[2] Collection file 37.1971, Department of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
[3] Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Paintings and Sculpture, Parke Bernet Galleries, New York, December 12, 1968, no. 65 (title: Grand bouquet de fleurs).

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