Kees van Dongen
- Kees van Dongen
- Femme au chapeau vert
- Signed van Dongen (lower left)
- Oil on canvas
- 36 1/4 by 29 in.
- 92.3 by 73.5 cm
Galerie Moos, Geneva
Acquired from the above
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Le fauvisme ou ‘L’épreuve du feu’. Eruption de la modernité en Europe, 1999-2000, no. 70, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Van Dongen, 2002, no. 31, illustrated in color in the catalogue; illustrated in color on the cover (as dating from 1907)
Monaco, Salle d’expositions du Quai Antoine-1er; Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts & Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Kees van Dongen, 2008-09, no. 152, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, 1997-2015 (on loan)
Writing about van Dongen’s depictions of women from this period, Marcel Giry noted: “…we are struck by the extraordinary chromatic subtlety which goes far beyond Van Dongen’s earlier accomplishments…The determination to emphasize the plastic values on the modeling is the second characteristic of these works which extol [the model’s] sensual beauty…'I exteriorize my desires,’ [van Dongen] said, ‘by expressing them in pictures. I love anything that glitters, precious stones that sparkle, fabrics that shimmer, beautiful women who arouse carnal desire…paintings let me possess all this most fully’" (M. Giry, Fauvism, Fribourg, 1981, pp. 224-226).
Van Dongen was the portraitist of Fauvism, a style of painting more closely associated with landscape than with the human figure. Matisse had shown the way in his celebrated paintings of women, which were a striking manifesto of the radical painting style. Van Dongen's bold use of color in his portraits came as a response to Matisse's groundbreaking paintings, such as Femme au chapeau, now considered to be one the Fauves' pivotal works, which scandalized Parisian critics at the Salon d'Automne of 1905. While the conflict in Matisse's work is achieved by the apparent contradiction between the wild, unrestrained handling of pigment and the apparently bourgeois subject, van Dongen in the present work celebrates the concurrent sensual appeal of vibrant color and the intimacy of the seductive woman's face. The use of rosy tones to achieve three-dimensional form relates to the similar technique utilized by Matisse in another Fauve masterpiece painted around the same time as the present work, Madame Matisse: Madras rouge. This work also rejects the tradition of modeling through the use of chiaroscuro in favor of chromatic contrast and an expressive use of color.
By the time he completed the present work, the artist's dealers in Paris Bernheim-Jeune, Ambroise Vollard, Antoine Druet, and Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler (who devoted his very first exhibition to van Dongen), recognized the potential of subjects like the present one and staged solo shows of the artist's work that brought him considerable success. Indeed, his paintings of elegant Parisiennes such as this would earn him a unique place as a chronicler of the period.