Lot 6
  • 6

Alfred Stevens

Estimate
70,000 - 100,000 USD
Sold
68,750 USD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Alfred Stevens
  • La Neige
  • signed AStevens (lower left) 
  • oil on panel

Provenance

VanderDonckt (acquired from the artist through E. LeRoy & Co., Paris, January 19, 1887)
Knoedler & Co., New York, no. 5631 (acquired from the above, February 1887) 
J. J. Gillespie & Co., Pittsburgh (acquired from the above, May 1891) 
Acquired from the above through the Prendergast Bequest, 1891

Literature

"Art Galleries and Societies," American Art Annual, Boston, 1900-1, vol. III, p. 114
Descriptive Catalogue of the Art Gallery of the James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, 1906, no. 19 (as Winter)
Katherine E. Manthorne, The Mirror Up to Nature: A Catalogue of 19th and 20th Century Paintings in the Collection of The James Prendergast Library Association, Jamestown, New York, 1982, p. 47 (as Winter)

Catalogue Note

Alfred Stevens was a dedicated chronicler of the modern, fashionable Parisienne and his compositions detailed her life throughout the social season. Throughout the Belle Époque, function followed fashion and the elegant brown velvet ensemble featured in La neige, with its chic asymmetrical buttons, is intended to ward off the chill of the winter’s day seen outside the window. The compositional motif recalls the artist’s commission from Belgium’s King Leopold II to depict the Quatre Saisons (1869-1876, Royal Collection, Belgium), and while the fashionable figures of Spring, Summer, and Fall were placed outdoors, Winter was represented by an elegant figure in a snow-white satin gown, in an interior suffused by golden light.

Like his contemporaries John Abbott McNeill Whistler and Edgar Degas, Stevens was fascinated by Japanese art and decoration. His luxurious studio in rue de Martyrs was filled with all things japonisme and many of his interiors feature distinctive Asian decorative elements. In the present work, the gleaming banded-gold screen decorated with a floral motif, appears in numerous other paintings, including In the Studio, exhibited at the Salon of 1892 (and now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 1) and L’Étude du rôle (1888, Private Collection). As with his objets, Stevens repeatedly selected favorite pieces of costume to appear in several compositions. The bright pink silk shawl draped over the table, for example, also appears in Désespérée (circa 1875, Koninklijk Museum voor schone Kunsten, Antwerp).

By the mid-1880s, when La neige was painted, Stevens was able to command significant prices for his work; his collectors included European Kings and American millionaires, such as A.T. Stewart and Catherine Lorillard Wolfe among others. New York’s William K. Vanderbilt purchased Le salon du peintre directly from the artist’s studio in 1880 for a staggering 50,000 francs (see Peter Mitchell, Alfred Stevens, 1823-1906, exh. cat., London 2004, p. 23; later sold in these rooms, May 7, 1998, lot 194 for an auction record). The artist’s growing popularity with American collectors prompted galleries in New York, Boston and other major cities to stock the artist’s views of Parisian life. As such, La neige was an ideal selection for the collection of the James Prendergast Library and a fitting pendant to Giovanni Boldini’s summary view of a lady of leisure In the Garden (see lot 3).

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