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328

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Paul Delvaux
ETUDE POUR 'JEUNE FILLE DEVANT UN TEMPLE'
JUMP TO LOT
328

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Paul Delvaux
ETUDE POUR 'JEUNE FILLE DEVANT UN TEMPLE'
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Paul Delvaux
1897 - 1994
ETUDE POUR 'JEUNE FILLE DEVANT UN TEMPLE'
signed P. Delvaux and dated Choisel 13-1-49 (lower right)
watercolour, pen and ink and wash on paper
50 by 63.6cm., 19 3/4 by 25in.
Executed in Choisel on 13th January 1949.

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The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Comité Delvaux.

Provenance

Galerie Isy Brachot, Brussels
Private Collection, Belgium (acquired from the above in 1985)
Thence by descent to the present owner

Catalogue Note

Etude pour 'Jeune fille devant un temple' is a superb example of Paul Delvaux’s alluring and feminine brand of mature Surrealist Art. Delvaux’s female subject captivates the viewer’s attention, dominating the visual field of this window into the artist’s imagination. The sitter’s orb-like eyes gaze pensively towards some unknown mental vista as she raises her hand to her head in silent contemplation. The present composition contains many of the most iconic elements of Delvaux’s work since the 1930s; an enclosed piazza populated by dream-like, ambiguous figures, impressive classical architecture and a strong use of perspective. The logic of this geometrically delineated and architecturally regimented space belies the impossible co-existences and repetitions played out on this stage. Yet, despite the bewildering spatial contradictions and temporal inconsistencies of this scene, it remains one of serene, almost hypnotic calm. 

Just as Delvaux’s work refuses explanation so did the artist himself. Throughout his lifetime, the artist avoided offering a narrative for his compositions: ‘I do not feel the need to give a temporal explanation of what I do, neither do I feel the need to account for my human subjects who exist only for the purpose of my paintings. These figures recount no history: they are’ (quoted in Paul Delvaux (exhibition catalogue), Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, 1997, p. 22).

Delvaux was fascinated with the effects of light and shadow and, as is often the case in his compositions, the source of light in Etude pour 'Jeune fille devant un temple' is ambivalent. Delvaux’s composition is bathed in a milky lunar glow which transforms his anonymous seated woman into a monumental edifice akin to the classical forms which surround her.  Yet, long pronounced shadows also imply a possible artificial light source, recalling the theatrical and considered staging of Delvaux’s compositions. As Barbara Emerson writes: ‘Delvaux uses light to great effect, almost as if he were manipulating theatrical equipment of spots and dimmers. With consummate skill, he contrasts cool white shafts of moonlight with the warm, gentle glow from an oil lamp’ (Barbara Emerson, Delvaux, Paris, 1985, p. 174).

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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