PMdB > Reconstructions > Marlow Moss

Missing Mondrians, Marlow Moss

B118 & B119

The reconstruction project took a few years, starting in 2010. In August 2011 the first draft of the book was printed and then gradually refined up to the first edition, third printing in 2015. Some progress was logged during the process and that is reproduced below.

B118 and B119 were lost to fire ‘during the acts of war’ [CR, p.288-9], while on loan from Wim and Tonia Stieltjes to the underrated Marlow Moss. Much of Moss's own work was lost in the same event, when her studio at Château d’Evreux, Gaucielin was bombed in 1944.

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 from CR
B119 from CR

Paintshop Pro [my pre-Mac days] 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 [dead link], but I'll have to try libraries. 

B118, perspective corrected
B119, perspective corrected

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.

'Maîtres du Cubisme' exhibition at L'Effort Moderne, Paris
Lostex det

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.

Perspective corrected
Lost with 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.


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.

Wall v2
Perspective reconsidered

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 118 119
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 v2
B119 v2
B119 v4
B119 v4

[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.

My B118
My B118

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