Severe in Sweet

Vassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944)
Watercolor and colored ink on laid paper 
16-7/8 x 12-1/8 in. (42.9 x 30.8 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Museum, The Blue Four Galka Scheyer Collection 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Museum 
Not on View

In 1928 Kandinsky created 25 oil paintings and more than 100 watercolors, Severe in Sweet being one of them. Kandinsky sent Severe in Sweet along with others to Galka Scheyer in Los Angeles for her to sell on consignment in 1933. She expressed great fondness for Severe in Sweet, and through correspondence, they worked out an arrangement for her to buy it for her own collection. In a letter dated December 30, 1938, she wrote to Kandinsky:

“This watercolor, in case you don’t remember it, has a light brown circle in the upper right-hand corner with brighter circles which renew themselves in the yellow space. Joined to these are some lines that resound with every renewal. For the circle soars and breathes, just as life, I am sure, constantly renews itself and resounds whenever it touches the lines that exist in space. It is one of your works that really says ‘Yes.’”

In his response, Kandinsky proposed the following offer: “The watercolor 318 Severe in Sweet with which you are flirting costs $40 net. For you the price would be $20 net.”


The artist, July 1933 to;
Galka Scheyer, who purchased from the artist 1938-1940;
Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, 1953-1954;
Pasadena Art Museum, Pasadena,1954-1975;
Norton Simon Museum, 1975.

Image reproduction permission may be granted for scholarly or arts related commercial use. All image requests, regardless of their intended purpose, should be submitted via email. Requests can also be made by fax or mail.

Images may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. Additional permission may be required.

Approved requests for the reproduction of an image will receive a contract detailing all fees and conditions of use of the image. Upon receipt of both the signed contract and full payment, the Office of Rights and Reproductions will provide the image. A complimentary copy of the published material must be provided to the Norton Simon Museum.

Please fill out our Online Reproduction Request Form.

E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (626) 449-6840 x 3300
Fax: (626) 796-4978

Additional Artwork by Artist