Lot 1066
  • 1066

Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès

Estimate Upon Request
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Adrien Jean Le Mayeur De Merprès
  • Nine Women by a Lotus Pond
  • Signed
  • Oil on canvas
  • Executed CIRCA 1948


Christie's Singapore, October 3, 1999, lot 842

Private Collection, Indonesia


Helena Spanjaard, Indonesian Odyssey: A Private Journey Through Indonesia's Most Renowned Fine Art Collections, Equinox Publishing, Singapore, 2008, colorplate, pg. 47.


This work is in very good overall condition as viewed and the paint layers are healthy overall. There is a very faint network of hairline craquelure at thick impasto on the woman on the left of the foreground, but this is consistent with age. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals very few, sporadic and small areas of restoration. Framed, in original frame.
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

Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres was largely influenced by Paul Gauguin, and much of his oeuvre is reflective of this artistic admiration towards the French painter’s Tahitian and French Polynesian narratives. Like the French painter, Le Mayeur also desired to find a tropical utopia that would ultimately become his sanctuary and nurture his artistic soul.  After many years of nomadic travel he arrived to Bali at 52 years old, and discovered the island to be everything that he had imagined it would be. “I’ve evidently made all things serviceable to my art. All my actions have but one purpose: facilitating my work. And my urge to set to work and render expression to all those things enchanting me never left me for even a single instant during all those years”, the artist remembered1.

The present painting Nine Women by a Lotus Pond celebrates Le Mayeur’s most beloved motifs – a coterie of Balinese dancers complimented by the flora and fauna of the tropical landscape. The women and the natural environment are portrayed through the eyes of an outsider, appreciative and respectful towards the new world that he inhabited. The artist’s wife and muse, Ni Wayan Pollock Tjoeglik, stands out with her green turban amidst the other women that are separate in their orange and red attire. Throughout his oeuvre Ni Pollock was often gifted the status of principle character within the narratives. The present work is reminiscent of the Renaissance painting The Birth of Venus, for both works adopt similar compositional styles that show the women framed by a chorus of admirers. In the Renaissance painting Venus is surrounded by a bevy of angels. In Nine Women by a Lotus Pond Ni Pollock occupies the central part of the painting, the other women complimenting her presence in the island landscape.

 While Gauguin was enamored by Tahiti, Le Mayeur was fascinated by the Balinese people. Both individuals strived to recreate these worlds within their paintings. The painting Day of the Gods is reflective of how Gauguin viewed the Tahitian environment, the island people and foliage depicted in vibrant, dream-like hues. Conversely Le Mayeur favored a warmer color palette that was reminiscent of the tropical sunlight, the generous application of reds, oranges, and pinks establishing a certain mood within the paintings. Nine Women by a Lotus Pond perfectly exemplifies this aesthetic.

Paired together with a rich color palette and thick brushstrokes, Le Mayeur’s oeuvre found inspiration in the Impressionist styles and motifs, notably the attention to sunlight and shadows within a naturalized setting. Nine Women by a Lotus Pond alludes to Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette. The latter work is a depiction of a group of Parisians in an outdoor cafe, their faces and clothes illuminated by the afternoon sunlight shining through the trees. The present work captures the Balinese sunlight as enveloping the women in a warm seductive glow, further emphasizing the “otherworldly” ambience of the island.

Another artist who had an influence upon the Belgian painter’s style and motifs was Edgar Degas, celebrated for his romantic depictions of ballerinas. Le Mayeur shared the same respect and appreciation for the Balinese dancers, and much of his oeuvre was dedicated to their feminine spirit and charm. The present work may be interpreted as a group of female dancers, or as women who are in the throes of a celebration. Nine Women by a Lotus Pond shows the artist’s role as that of an observer, slightly voyeuristic in manner, and yet always respectful towards his subject matters and the natural environment. “When one say those beautiful girls, dressed in their finest silk sarongs with flowers in their hair, and carrying themselves like princess, it was difficult to imagine that they were actually a cook and a chamber maid”, Le Mayeur said2.

The island of Bali enabled Le Mayeur to transform his dreams into an artistic reality. He continued to find beauty within the lush landscape and rich culture of the Balinese people, and these moments became immortalized within his oeuvre. “You will understand my paintings wherever you may see them. For everything in this little paradise which I created for myself was made to be painted”, he said.  Nine Women by a Lotus Pond is a vibrant depiction of the island culture and embodies the spirit and charm of the archipelago. As a special piece from Le Mayeur’s oeuvre, it further establishes the Belgian painter’s legacy as one of the key European artists who had a lasting influence upon Indonesian modern art3.

1Jop Ubbens,  Cathinka Huizing, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, 1880 - 1958: Painter - Traveller/ Schilder - Reiziger, Pictures Publishers, Wijik en Aalburg, The Netherlands, 1995, pg. 120.

2 Refer to 1, pg. 119.

3 Refer to 1, pg. 120.