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Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Kees van Dongen
1877 - 1968
LA ROBE ROSE (ÈVE FRANCIS)
Signed Van Dongen (lower center)
Oil on canvas
57 5/8 by 45 in.
146.5 by 114.3 cm
Painted circa 1919.
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To be included in the forthcoming Van Dongen Catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jacques-Chalom des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Provenance

Mrs. Kramer
O'Hana Gallery, London
Sale: Maurice Rheims, René G. Laurin, Philippe Rheims, Paris, lot 65
Beny Gattegno, Paris
Private Collection (acquired from the above in 1968)
Sale: Sotheby's, London, June 20, 2005, lot 39
Private Collection (acquired at the above sale and sold: Sotheby's, London, February 8, 2011, lot 41)
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

Exhibited

(possibly) Paris, Salon d'Automne, 1919
Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institute, Twenty-Fifth Annual International Exhibition of Paintings, 1926, no. 239

Literature

Édouard des Courières, "Van Dongen," in L'Art Vivant, March 20, 1925, illustrated p. 6 (titled Portrait de Mlle Eve Francis)
Édouard des Courières, Van Dongen, Paris, 1925, illustrated pl. 67

Catalogue Note

Known as the principal portraitist among the Fauve artists, Van Dongen was a chronicler of the Années Folles and executed portraits inspired by his visits to the cabarets and cafés where dancers performed in exotic costumes, as well as members of high society such as the Aga Khan and King Leopold III of Belgium. It was in this milieu that he would have encountered the Belgian-born actress Ève Francis (1886 -1980), the subject of the present painting, who had moved to Paris to pursue a career in the theater. Francis is chiefly associated with both the writer Paul Claudel, younger brother of the sculptor Camille Claudel and with whom she was at various times romantically linked, and Louis Delluc, the novelist, poet and playwright whom she married in 1918. It was Francis who encouraged the latter to begin directing films, after producing several of her own with the director Germaine Dulac. Together, they formed part of a wider group of avant-garde film makers whose movement is often referred to as French Impressionist Cinema.

Around the time that the present portrait was painted, Francis had already starred in seven films and was taking leading roles in Delluc's new productions, notably La Femme de nulle part, and also Marcel L'Herbier's acclaimed El Dorado. Her style of acting has been described as, "a balance between mannerism and pose; at its extreme it could be seen as an element of film architecture" (Dictionnaire du cinéma français, sous la direction de Jean-Loup Passek, Paris, 1987, p. 157). She published two books of her own, Temps héroïques: théâtre, cinéma (1949) and Un autre Claudel (1973). Francis died in Paris in 1980, aged 94.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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New York