Oil on canvas
Madame Lucie Cousturier (née Lucie Brû) was a painter and writer associated with the Neo-Impressionist group that included Henri-Edmond Cross, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Maximilien Luce. A student of Paul Signac, Cousturier frequently exhibited her work at the Salon des Indépendents. Her artistic career is perhaps overshadowed by her relentless advocacy for some of the most famous painters of the day, and her immense scholarly output through the early 20th Century was partially responsible for the canonization of many key figures in the history of modern art. A prolific writer of literary, art and social criticism, Cousturier published in Félix Fénéon's Revue Blanche and composed important early monographs on Seurat, Signac, Cross, Denis and Bonnard.
A woman of fierce intellect and perfectly imperturbable attitude (evidenced by the present work and the below photograph), Cousturier was a frequent subject of Maximilien Luce. Luce often painted Cousturier at work in her studio, but the present work, featuring an elegantly costumed sitter against a subtly textured turquoise background, is perhaps his finest portrait of her. So taken with the picture was Félix Fénéon that he commissioned a miniature version of it for himself from Luce. The confluence of Luce's deft painterly skill and his important subject make the present work a stunning and rare record of a figure who defined the art and literary atmosphere of the last century.
Cousturier was famously the first owner of Georges Seurat's masterpiece La Grande Jatte, now in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. She acquired the work circa 1891-94 and it hung in her Paris home for more than twenty-five years.
Fig.1 Lucie Cousturier seated before Georges Seurat's La Grande Jatte. Cousturier owned the painting from circa 1891-94 until 1924.
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