Lot 113
  • 113

Maurice Denis

60,000 - 80,000 USD
145,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Maurice Denis
  • Signed with the studio monogram (lower left)
  • Oil on panel


Dominique Denis, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (the artist's son; acquired from the artist)
Acquired from the above


Berne Kunsthalle, Die Maler der Revue Blanche, Toulouse-Lautrec et les Nabis, 1951, no. 94 (under the ownership of Bernadette Denis)
Paris, Musée de l'Orangerie, Maurice Denis, 1970, no. 17
Brême Kunsthalle; Zurich Kunsthaus; Copenhague Statens Museum for Kunst, Maurice Denis, 1971-72, no. 12
Marly-Le-Roy, Louveciennes Musée Promenade, De Renoir à Vuillard, 1984, p. 84, illustrated p. 28
Paris, Huguette Berès, Au Temps des Nabis, 1990, no. 44
Paris, Huguette Berès, Maurice Denis, 1992, no. 4


Arthur Ellridge, Gauguin et les Nabis, Paris, 1993, illustrated p. 178

Catalogue Note

In his definition of the Nabi movement, put forward in 1895, Maurice Denis emphasizes the battle against naturalism: "They had good reason to look down upon this prejudiced fool, educated everywhere, [...], that a painting is an open window overlooking nature and that art should be the exact representation of it." Denis stressed the importance of free artistic translation through color and texture that he found more valuable than a faithful representation of reality: "[...], a canvas, before representing anything whatsoever, is a blank surface covered in colors in a particular manner for the pleasure of the eye. [...] In their work, they preferred the expression of décor and the harmony of forms and colours through the mediums being used than the expression of the subject itself." (Maurice Denis, "Peintres impressionnistes et symbolistes", quoted in Le Ciel et l'Arcadie, ed. Jean Paul Bouillon, Paris, 1993, pp. 27-28).

The present work, a study for Souvenir de soir I, 1890, predates this particular definition. At Port-Marly, a town on the Seine ten miles west of Paris, a soft, filtered light reflects and resonates upon the river's surface. A recurring theme at the time, the "bateau-lavoir" (washing boat) is used to clearly accentuate the glistening of the water. The scene is bathed in an intimate atmosphere, and the delicate tones of the foliage as well as the vibration of the light are painted with short, swift brush strokes, while, in the water, the brushstrokes become elongated and calmer. The scene is synthesised through the application of cool, bright yellow tones.


Fig. I Maurice Denis, Souvenir de soir I, 1893, oil on canvas, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston