Lot 35
  • 35

Kees van Dongen

500,000 - 700,000 GBP
1,085,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Kees van Dongen
  • Deauville ‘Joie de vivre’
  • signed van Dongen (lower centre)
  • oil on canvas
  • 54 by 65cm.
  • 21 1/4 by 25 1/2 in.


Galerie de l'Elysée, Paris

Private Collection (acquired from the above on 19th October 1965. Sold: Christie’s, New York, 8th May 1991, lot 19)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

'In van Dongen's work we find everything that lives, sparkles and is luxurious', remarked a journalist in 1928, (quoted in All Eyes on van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010-11, p. 155),  and this statement is certainly not reserved for scenes of Paris. In Deauville ‘Joie de vivre’ van Dongen deftly captures the exciting and fashionable summer social scene at Deauville. In the first half of the twentieth century, this seaside resort was full of the great and the good: it was a place to see and be seen, and van Dongen was at the centre of this lively world (fig. 2). The artist first visited Deauville in the summer of 1913, when he stayed with his collector friends the Desjardins; seduced by the buzz and glamour of the place, he returned almost every year of his life.

Deauville ‘Joie de vivre’ is set in the very heart of this exciting social scene, capturing a party in full flow. Van Dongen depicts a multitude of social interactions with people dancing, drinking and talking in a scene that is full of life and energy. The low viewpoint and the sheer breadth of the activity fully immerse the viewer in the event and helps to emphasise van Dongen’s position as an insider within this society. The vitality of the scene evidently appealed to van Dongen as this is one of two versions of the subject that he painted.

The rich blues and brilliant whites of the present work offer a striking counterpoint to the oranges and yellows of the beach scenes that van Dongen painted whilst in Deauville (fig. 1) but both emphasise his intuitive use of colour. Whilst the Fauves are often credited with inventing colour, van Dongen actively went in search of it, travelling to Spain and Morocco; similarly Deauville offered the artist unlimited luminous blue sky, blustering flags, dazzling parasols and a twinkling sea. Van Dongen was not the only Fauve artist to find inspiration in fashionable French seaside resorts, and the bustle and energy of the present work recalls the dynamic atmosphere of Raoul Dufy's famous beach scenes of Trouville and Sainte-Adresse. Van Dongen invites us into an effervescent world inhabited by the beau monde of the 1920s. Anita Hopmans has rightly emphasised the artistic significance of van Dongen's fascination for, and engagement with, this affluent milieu. She reminds us how his scenes of the Lido, Deauville and Cannes are examples of the way in which 'van Dongen created this luxury around him, his work sprung from it and was inextricably bound up with it' (A. Hopmans, in ibid., p. 155).