Lot 162
  • 162

Émile Bernard

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Émile Bernard
  • Portrait de Madame Schuffenecker
  • Signed E Bernard (lower left); inscribed à ma petite Georgette en souvenir de son enfance, Amédée Schuffenecker (on the reverse)
  • Oil on canvas
  • 12 1/2 by 15 7/8 in.
  • 31.9 by 40.4 cm


Émile Schuffenecker, France
Amédée Schuffenecker, France (younger brother of the above)
René Drouet, Paris
M & Mme Samuel Josefowitz, Lausanne (acquired by 1966)
Acquired from the above


London, Tate Gallery, Gauguin et le Groupe Pont-Aven, 1966, no. 86
Zurich, Kunsthaus, Gauguin et le Groupe Pont-Aven, 1966, no. 101
Mannehim, Stadtische Kunsthalle Mannheim & Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Émile Bernard, A Pioneer of Modern Art, no. 57, illustrated p. 201
Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts & San Diego, San Diego Museum of Fine Art, Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven, 1994-96, no. 33, illustrated in the catalogue


Art Collector, London, October-November, 1968, illustrated p. 233
Wladyslawa Jaworska, Paul Gauguin et l'école de Pont-Aven, Neuchâtel, 1971illustrated p. 54 (titled Madame Schuffenecker dans son intérior)
Jean-Jacques Luthi, Émile Bernard: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1982, no. 136, illustrated p. 27 (incorrectly listed under no. 137)


This work is in very good condition. The canvas is not lined and remains on its original stretcher. The surface is clean and the pigments are bright and fresh. There is a faint stretcher mark down the center and a few scattered lines of stable craquelure, otherwise fine.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

The present work is one of two portraits that Émile Bernard painted of Louise Lançon, the wife of his close friend and fellow artist Claude-Émile Schuffenecker, in 1889. Seated in the foreground of a domestic interior that is modestly decorated but bathed in a warm light that suffuses the entire setting with color, Madame Schuffenecker is depicted here in a very different vein from the other portrait executed that year (see fig. 1). Far less Mannerist in style, Bernard’s focus in the present work is on color and composition. The dramatic, asymmetrical placement of his figure on the canvas draws attention to her unfocused gaze; her eyes are fixed beyond the spectator, seemingly unaware of or even indifferent to their presence, in a manner reminiscent of Degas’ portraits that leaves no doubt as to Bernard’s admiration for the older artist (see Mary Anne Stevens, Émile Bernard 1868-1941: A Pioneer of Modern Art, Amsterdam, 1990, p. 202).

Indeed, the portraits Bernard executed between the years of 1887-88 share a remarkable mélange of artistic influences. Through his friendship with Van Gogh and Gauguin, Bernard was exposed to Japanese prints relatively early on in his career. The effect of these elegant compositions based on well-defined contours and planes of color is particularly evident in both the present work and two other portraits painted at this time: La Grandmère and Autoportrait avec portrait de Paul Gauguin (see fig. 2), both of which now belong in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

Bernard’s relationship with the Schuffenecker family dates from his initial meeting with Claude-Émile, at Concarneau in late July 1886. A great friendship developed between the two men and when Schuffenecker’s Bernard proved to be one of most loyal supporters he fell on tougher times during an extended exile from the mainstream of critical artistic acclaim and the breakup of his marriage. Madame Schuffenecker was known to be an attractive but somewhat difficult woman. Relations between the couple appear to have been precarious even at the time the present work was painted as is evidences in Gauguin’s famous portrait of the Schuffenecker family painted shortly after his return from Arles in 1889, just one year after the present work was executed (see fig. 3).