Lot 6
  • 6

KEES VAN DONGEN | Deux femmes nues à la fenêtre

750,000 - 1,000,000 GBP
849,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Kees van Dongen
  • Deux femmes nues à la fenêtre
  • signed van Dongen (lower right); signed van Dongen and inscribed 5 Rue Juliette Lamber on the reverse
  • oil on canvas


Marc Vaux, Paris (sold: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 26th February 1973, lot 30) Sale: Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 15th November 1978, lot 109

Private Collection (sold: Sotheby's, London, 2nd April 1979, lot 52)

M. Gunzenhauser (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 1st July 1980, lot 49)

Sale: Nuova Brera-Arte, Milan, 22nd May 1990, lot 234

Private Collection, The Netherlands (acquired circa 2002. Sold: Sotheby's, New York, 6th May 2003, lot 24)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner

Catalogue Note

For Van Dongen the female form was a central source of inspiration. He painted women in all their guises – nudes, dancers, society women – and these depictions are among the most celebrated works in his œuvre. His experience working with his fellow artists at the Bateau Lavoir, the famous dilapidated studio in Montmartre, provided him access to some of the most flamboyant figures in the Parisian demi-monde. Dancers, cabaret performers and members of the Cirque Médrano were frequent models at his studio, and the present composition exemplifies the influence of this beguiling, exotic environment. The alluring manner in which Van Dongen has presented this vision of beauty – with the two women leaning luxuriously over the balcony rail – reveals his fascination with the female figure. As the artist elaborated: 'All women have their beauty and charm which I glorify, […] big eyes – I don’t know why - long eyelashes, satin-smooth or matt skin […]. You have to want to touch a painting, for it to be a pleasure for all the senses' (quoted in All Eyes on Kees van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010-11, pp. 151-152). All elements of the composition are subordinate to this artistic vision, including Van Dongen’s distinctive palette which was a legacy from his involvement with the Fauves. A contemporary critic commented: 'From a brilliant palette, his fluid colour moulds the form; he has pinks and luminous greys which are a sheer delight to the eye' (M. Hamel, quoted in ibid., p. 148). In Deux femmes nues à la fenêtre Van Dongen juxtaposes these greys and pinks against striking blue and green tones, emphasising the sensuality of his models.

Donald Kuspit suggests that Van Dongen's use of the female nude shows a 'special character of this fascination, indicated by the attempt to reduce the female body to a crude mass of colour, implies a special desire, a special wish to be seduced: the physical intimacy communicated amounts to identification with the female. It is an identification which confirms the artist's power - which appropriates female power for his art [...]. Fauvism is eager for art to have the vital power of the female. It is this that the Fauvist images of females pursue, and that van Dongen articulates with a special vehemence. For me, his most important pictures are those of women' (D. Kuspit in Kees van Dongen (exhibition catalogue), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 1989, p. 37).  

This work will be included in the forthcoming Van Dongen Digital Catalogue Raisonné being prepared by The Wildenstein Plattner Institute.