359

PROPERTY FROM THE OLIVIER SAINSÈRE COLLECTION

Kees van Dongen
PORTRAIT DE FEMME À LA PLUME BLANCHE
Estimate
300,000400,000
JUMP TO LOT
359

PROPERTY FROM THE OLIVIER SAINSÈRE COLLECTION

Kees van Dongen
PORTRAIT DE FEMME À LA PLUME BLANCHE
Estimate
300,000400,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York

Kees van Dongen
1877 - 1968
PORTRAIT DE FEMME À LA PLUME BLANCHE
Signed van Dongen. (lower right); signed van Dongen (on the stretcher)
Oil on canvas
21 7/8 by 18 1/8 in.
55.5 by 46 cm
Painted circa 1908-10.
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This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jacques Chalom des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Provenance

Galerie Kahnweiler, Paris
Olivier Sainsère, Paris (acquired before 1914)
Thence by descent

Catalogue Note

This striking portrait of a woman in profile, executed in van Dongen’s signature rich, vibrant colors, was painted around 1908-10, during the important period immediately following his involvement with the Fauves. After successful one-man shows in Paris at Galerie Kahnweiler and Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, and an exhibition with the German Expressionist group Die Brücke, he moved to a new studio and apartment on rue Saulnier in the 9th arrondissement just around the corner from the famous music hall, the Folies-Bergère. He continued to focus on the stylized portraits of glamorous women for which he would become renowned, finding inspiration in the world of dance halls and cabarets, whose artificial light was reflected in his palette, in the sulphurous yellows and lurid greens that would become a hallmark of his mature style. Portrait de femme à la plume blanche is a prime example of the type of modern feminine beauty demanded by van Dongen's clientele, who clamored to sit for the artist in the years leading up to World War I. By the 1920s these elegant portraits became some of the most coveted status symbols among the grandes dames of Paris. Indeed, his representations of Parisiennes such as this would earn him a place as a chronicler of the period.

This painting exemplifies the dramatic stylization for which van Dongen’s female portraits would become famous: the sitter’s flame-colored hair, her extravagant, eye-catching hat, and greenish-yellow pallor. The identity of the poised young woman remains unknown, as van Dongen's primary focus was on his painterly expression rather than on anatomical accuracy or descriptive value. The bouquet of pink flowers in the lower left corner adds another bright accent to the palette, drawing the eye to the model’s ruby lips and balancing the indigo blue of the background. She avoids the gaze of the artist and viewer, emphasizing the gulf between subject and object. Though background detail has been left enigmatically bare, her pose suggests she may be watching a show from a theatre box and being observed, unknowingly, by the clandestine artist concealed in the shadows. It is worth noting that the hat became somewhat of a fetish object in van Dongen’s compositions from this period; in other paintings from around the same time, his models are depicted wearing nothing but a festooned piece of millinery.

The first owner of Portrait de femme à la plume blanche was the legendary Parisian dealer Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler. Although Kanhweiler is primarily known for his support of the Cubist artists including Picasso, Braque and Gris, in the period between 1907 and 1913 he appears to have acquired around 140 or so works by van Dongen. On visiting Kahnweiler's gallery in 1909, the writer and critic Jacques Rivière wrote in a letter to the painter André Lhote: "Stunning Van Dongens at Kahnweiler’s" (quoted in Gaston Diehl, Van Dongen, Milan, n.d., p. 91). This picture was then acquired by the esteemed politician and patron of the arts Olivier Sainsère and has remained in his family for around a century. 

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York