Lot 26
  • 26

Kees van Dongen

400,000 - 600,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Kees van Dongen
  • Lilas et tulipes
  • signed van Dongen (lower left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 130 by 96cm.
  • 51 1/8 by 37 3/4 in.


Private Collection, Paris

Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Vibrantly coloured and executed on an impressive scale, Lilas et tulipes exemplifies both Van Dongen’s remarkable mastery of colour and his innovative approach to the still-life form. Juxtaposing the slender stems of the lilac blossoms with the sensuous heads of the tulips, Van Dongen imbues the composition with a remarkable dynamism. Paint is applied in thick brushstrokes and colour assumes an expressive and highly charged quality with the artist combining luminous purples, blues and greens to achieve a striking tonality.

This expressive use of colour reflects the enduring influence of Van Dongen’s association with the Fauves alongside whom he exhibited at the controversial Salon d’Automne of 1905. Although in later works such as Lilas et tulipes the bright tones of his Fauvist period give way to a more measured palette in which greens, blues and greys replace the incandescent reds and oranges of his early years, colour remains a powerful descriptive force in his work. As Denys Sutton writes: ‘The artist's break-through occurred at a time when Fauvism was the dominant style in France [...]. In 1904 Van Dongen was in touch with two of its principal exponents - Derain and Vlaminck. A good deal of critical ink has been spilled over the question whether or not Van Dongen may be considered as one of the founders of this effective and ebullient style [...]. In the final analysis the question is not all that relevant. What is important is that he was a painter who found a natural means of expression in the use of thickly applied colour - bold stark reds, greens and blues, colours which, he once pointed out, held for him an almost symbolical meaning’ (D. Sutton, in Cornelis Theodorus Maria Van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, Arizona, 1971, pp. 20-28).