- Nicolai Fechin
- Temple Dancer, 1938
signed N. Fechin (lower right); labeled for exhibition (on the backing)
- oil on canvas
- 18 by 15 in., 46 by 38 cm
Vera S. Miller (acquired directly from the artist)
Gifted directly from the above to the present owner in 1989
Oklahoma City, National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (permanent collection), 1989-2011
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."
Fechin's highly sought-after images of Balinese peasants may be traced to his 1938 trip to the Far East with friend Milan Rupert. Initially planning to visit China as well, the duo embarked on a cross-Pacific voyage on a Japanese freighter, only to learn en route that Chinese visas were no longer being issued due to recent unrest within the country. They elected to proceed directly to the Indonesian paradise of Bali, where at once Fechin's attention was arrested by the island natives. He set up a studio within a local community in Denpasar, and with Rupert's assistance he recruited numerous individuals to model for the many charcoal sketches and oil paintings he executed during the four months he resided there. The resulting images, including Temple Dancer (the present lot) and Balinese Peasant Girl (lot 10), are stylistically consistent with his portraits of native Indians from the American southwest, even as the faces and textiles change in shape and color. The stunning vibrancy of the pigments found in these paintings emphasizes the renewal of artistic inspiration that Fechin found in Bali, where the tropical environs and Hindu customs must have provided a profound contrast to the Taos Pueblo and Russian steppe.