Captivated by the glorious representations of Tahitian women in the paintings of Paul Gauguin, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres voyaged to Tahiti in 1929. Concomitantly, Le Mayeur also felt a natural inclination to depict the voluptuous female beauties who resided in this exotic island in French Polynesia. In the present lot, two young women seated in the foreground dominate the picture plane and flank another pair of girls who stand partly immersed in a river in the background.
In contrast to his later depictions of slender, Balinese ladies captured from a distance, this painting reveals the physically close space between the artist and his models. The women in the front retain their languid postures despite the fact that they are conscious of the artist’s intimate gaze, indicating their comfortable relationship with Le Mayeur. Though they bear an unperturbed and somewhat aloof expression on their faces, their body language suggests they are approachable and curious as they concertedly glance beyond the canvas barrier and into the viewer’s realm.
Le Mayeur bathes the scene with his archetypal natural light, coloring these tanned women with a warm, orange glow. The printed floral dresses, red and white, complement the pink flowers that float above white reflections on the water in the backdrop. With a forceful color palette, Le Mayeur applies stark contrasts to juxtapose sun-kissed areas and shadows in the manner of a true impressionist painter. Though Gauguin’s paintings inspired the subject-matter of this work, Le Mayeur applies his paint more thickly, providing the painting with texture. Tahitiennes au Bord de la Rivière, an immediately arresting work, is a splendid rendition of Le Mayeur’s impression of this tranquil Pacific island.
 ‘Les expositions d’Art’, in Le Soir, review by R.D., 21 January 1931.
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