The Fishermen, Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger
The Fishermen
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Fernand Léger

The Fishermen, 1921

60.0 x 91.0 cm
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Inventory Number
Acquired in 1976 as a gift from the Imprimatur Gemeinnützige GmbH Frankfurt am Main and Werner Wirthle
On display, 1st upper level, Modern Art, room 13


About the Work

With a few colours and geometric shapes, Léger created an image of modern mankind in a mechanised world. Depicted are three faceless figures, which only the title reveals to be fishermen, in a seemingly unnatural landscape. Léger was convinced of the industrialisation’s positive effects. He wanted to depict the hitherto altered society of the early 20th century and developed a formal language following Cubism: figures, objects and pictorial spaces are composed of simple, curved shapes and tubes (French: “tubes”); this is why Léger’s work is also referred to as “tubism”.

About the Acquisition

This painting made its way into the museum in 1976 as a gift from the Imprimatur foundation. The Imprimatur-Stiftung, Gemeinnützige GmbH was founded in Frankfurt in 1957. It owns the simple majority of the Frankfurter Societäts-Druckerei GmbH. The foundation supports young journalists and also training positions in the graphics profession in a variety of ways. It also endows a prize for excellent journalistic performance. In 1989 it affiliated with the Fazit-Stiftung.

Work Data

Basic Information

The Fishermen
Period Produced
Object Type
Physical Description
Oil on canvas
Label at the Time of Manufacture
Signiert und datiert unten rechts: F. LEGER 21
Work Catalogues
  • Bauquier, Bd. 2, 1992: 1921-278

Property and Acquisition

Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
Picture Copyright
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2024
Acquired in 1976 as a gift from the Imprimatur Gemeinnützige GmbH Frankfurt am Main and Werner Wirthle

Work Content

Motifs and References

Main Motif
Associated Persons and Institutions



Research and Discussion


Object History
Galerie Alfred Flechtheim, Berlin, 1928
Gustav Kahnweiler (1895-1989)
Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (1884-1979), Paris
Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York, seit mindestens 1951
Israel Rosen (1911-1988), Baltimore
Galerie Beyeler Basel
Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main (Schenkung der Imprimatur Gemeinnützige G.m.b.H. und Werner Wirthles), 1976.


Since 2001, the Städel Museum has systematically been researching the provenance of all objects that were acquired during the National Socialist period, or that changed owners or could have changed owners during those years. The basis for this research is the “Washington Declaration”, also known as the “Washington Conference Principles”, formulated at the 1998 “Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets” and the subsequent “Joint Declaration”.

The provenance information is based on the sources researched at the time they were published digitally. However, this information can change at any time when new sources are discovered. Provenance research is therefore a continuous process and one that is updated at regular intervals.

Ideally, the provenance information documents an object’s origins from the time it was created until the date when it found its way into the collection. It contains the following details, provided they are known:

  • the type of acquisition and/or the way the object changed hands
  • the owner's name and place of residence
  • the date on which it changed hands

The successive ownership records are separated from each other by a semicolon.

Gaps in the record of a provenance are indicated by the placeholder “…”. Unsupported information is listed in square brackets.

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