327
327

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Paul Delvaux
LES AMIES
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT
327

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE COLLECTION

Paul Delvaux
LES AMIES
Estimate
200,000300,000
LOT SOLD. 312,500 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale

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Paul Delvaux
1897 - 1994
LES AMIES
Signed P. Delvaux. and dated 18-1-68 (lower right)
Watercolor, gouache, pen and ink and ink wash on paper
28 3/4 by 43 1/4 in.
73 by 110 cm
Executed on January 18, 1968.
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The authenticity of this work has been verbally confirmed by the Fondation Delvaux.

Provenance

Madame Krebs, Brussels
Galerie Lévy, Milan
Paul Hottlet, Belgium (and sold: Sotheby's, London, June 21, 2005, lot 152)
Acquired at the above sale

Exhibited

Cologne, Galerie Gmurzynska, Ensor, Delvaux, Magritte, 1969
Osaka, Musée d'art de Daimaru & traveling, Paul Delvaux, 1989, no. 94, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Paris, Grand Palais, Paul Delvaux, Peintures-dessins, 1922-1982, 1991, no. 25, illustrated in color in the catalogue
Brussels, Musées royaux des beaux-arts de belgique, Paul Delvaux, 1997, no. 222, illustrated in color in the catalogue

Catalogue Note

The mood in the present work is one of great sensuality, with the two figures intertwined in a gentle embrace. The white bodies of the female figures contrast powerfully with the darkness peeking through the windows framing the scene in the background. The quiet repose of the two girls, seen as an oasis of calm, dominates the foreground. Here, the pen is used sparingly, lightly stroking in the contours of the reclining bodies, and this economy of line is boldly contrasted by the intricacies of the detailed setting behind the figures. Inspired by the work of the French masters and the rich history of the nude in European painting Delvaux gives the theme a fresh twist by locating it in a modern-day setting, with a gas lamp in the background.

Writing about a similar work with the same title from 1946, Delvaux was unequivocal about its subject matter, identifying the figures as "Two Lesbians." He goes on to say, "I find something very beautiful, from the point of view of formal values and line, in the contact between female flesh. It is, perhaps, erotic, but there is nothing wrong with that. In painting, all feelings become ethereal. Courbet, famously, made three paintings of lesbians in the following states Avant, Pendant and Après. The three paintings were seized at the Franco-Belgian border. The first two were burnt on the spot and the third was sent back to France: I've seen the photograph, and it's a wonderful painting" (quoted in Paul Delvaux, Peintures-dessins, 1922-1982 (exhibition catalogue), op. cit., p. 66). Although Delvaux's story about the three Courbet paintings is almost certainly apocryphal, the image he saw in a photograph (which he knew as Après) is almost certainly Le Sommeil (see fig. 1).

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