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But the Red Roof

Paul Klee, Swiss, 1879 - 1940

Object Details
With Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, Paris, 1935-1937; with Karl Nierendorf, Nierendorf Gallery, New York, 1937-1943 [1]; on consignment to Galka E. Scheyer (1889-1945), San Francisco and Los Angeles [2]; sold to Louis Blembel, [Los Angeles?], 1943 [3]. With Stendahl Art Galleries, Los Angeles, as of August 1948 (from Blembel?) [4]; sold to Louise and Walter C. Arensberg, Los Angeles, September 28, 1948 [5]; gift to PMA, 1950.1. Kahnweiler shipped the painting to Karl Nierendorf in New York on November 19, 1937 (information provided by Dr. Christian Rümelin, director, Catalogue raisonné Paul Klee, letter in curatorial file). As is evident from Nierendorf's correspondence with Earl Stendahl of the Stendahl Art Galleries (Archives of American Art), at the time of the 1941 Klee exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which traveled to San Francisco and Los Angeles, Nierendorf sent the painting, along with thirteen others, on consignment to Galka Scheyer in California. Probably shortly after the exhibition, she or Nierendorf lent the painting to John Huston on approval as a prospective buyer; when Huston left for military service around 1942 he returned the painting to Scheyer without buying it. In the meantime, after major disagreements Nierendorf had cancelled his business agreement with Scheyer. He attempted to retrieve this and other paintings he had with her, without success. Nierendorf was still trying to get the paintings back, or at least prevent her from selling them, when he wrote to Stendahl on February 9, 1943, that he had received an offer for the painting from Scheyer, who had found a buyer for it. Later, on February 23, he wrote Stendahl that "in spite of my protests she has sold Klee's 'Red Roof'," to a buyer she apparently did not disclose to him (see copies of correspondence in curatorial file). 2. A photo of ca. 1943 shows the painting hanging in Scheyer's house; see Sandback, "Blue Heights Drive," Artforum, v. 28, no. 7, p. 124.3. According to the curatorial records, "Property of Louis Blembel" was written in pencil on the back of the frame; however, because the painting has been reframed the name cannot be verified. The same person (apparently a young man; Scheyer refers to him as a 'boy') bought two works by Lyonel Feininger from Scheyer in 1944, an oil entitled 'Fishing Cutter' of 1940 and a watercolor called 'Shelter Cove' of 1939. Scheyer mentions in a letter to Feininger of August 5, 1944, that Blembel "fell in love before" with a beautiful Klee which he paid for in installments -- undoubtedly "But the Red Roof!". The architect Rudolph M. Schindler built a house in Hollywood for a L. Blembel in 1949, possibly the same person.4. Stendahl offered the painting to Curt Valentin of the Buchholz Gallery in a letter of August 25, 1948 (Stendahl Art Galleries records, Archives of American Art).5. Receipt of this date from Stendahl Galleries in curatorial file (original in Arensberg Archives). A note in the curatorial file records a conversation with Stendahl, April 8, 1954, in which Stendahl said that he sold the painting to Walter Arensberg five or six years previously and that it came from Galka Scheyer's collection, who originally offered it to Arensberg.

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