Galerie Charpentier, Paris (acquired circa 1958)
Private Collection, Paris (acquired from the above by 1962)
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York (acquired by 1965)
Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York (acquired from the above in 1966)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York (gifted from the above in 1980 and sold: Christie’s, New York, November 1, 2005, lot 53)
Deitch Projects, New York (acquired at the above sale)
Acquired from the above in 2005
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, van Dongen, 1949, no. 46, illustrated in the catalogue
Rotterdam, Museum Boymans, Kees van Dongen: Werken van 1894 tot 1949, 1949, no. 25, illustrated in the catalogue
Utrecht, Genootschap Kunstliefde, Kees van Dongen, 1949, no. 10, illustrated in the catalogue
(possibly) Munich, Haus der Kunst, Galerie Charpentier, zeigt Ecole de Paris. Grösse Kunstausstellung München 1956, 1956, no. 91
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Les Fauves, 1962, no. 128, illustrated in the catalogue
Paris, Musée National d'Art Moderne, L'art hollandais depuis Van Gogh, 1958, no. 35, illustrated in the catalogue
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, A Comprehensive Exhibition of Paintings, 1900 to 1925 by van Dongen, 1965, no. 13, illustrated in color in the catalogue (titled La Femme au grand chapeau noir)
New York, The Museum of Modern Art, Twentieth-century art from the Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller Collection, 1969, illustrated in the catalogue
Jean-Paul Crespelle, Les Fauves, Neuchatel, 1962, illustrated in color p. 71
Robert Vrinat, "L'Exposition salle par salle" in Les Nouvelles littéraires, Paris, March 8, 1962, p. 3
Louis Chaumeil, Van Dongen: L’Homme et l’artiste–La Vie et l’oeuvre, Geneva, 1967, no. 75, illustrated n.p. (titled Le Chapeau Cloche)
In the years following the 1905 Salon d’automne, van Dongen became known as a pioneer of this emerging group, a notable distinction for an artistic movement that was markedly hazy in its own definition. As the art historian Robert Genaille once stated, “The Fauves have founded neither a school, nor even a homogeneous group…but an avant-garde pack of painters of diverse temperaments… what brings them together is the same daring taste for color” (quoted in L. Chaumel, op. cit., p. 88). His early portraits of women would certainly place him in the fauvist bracket; with his extravagant use of color and bold lines depicting the female form in its full provocative nature, the artist pointed to his subjects’ innate sensuality and amplified it tenfold (see fig. 2).
His circa 1911 execution of La Femme au chapeau marks the beginning of the era for which van Dongen would most be known—that of commissioned portraiture. The work elevates the artist from one who was most renowned for his patronage and depictions of Montmartre’s clubs in all their gritty glory to one widely sought-out by Paris’ upper-echelons. While the sitter in this particular portrait is unknown, she showcases the attributes of wealth: a sparkling beaded necklace, wide-brimmed feathered hat, and draped, demure attire, posh and fashionable for the time. Still feline in her empty, haunting gaze, she sits with grace and poise—characteristics that would shine through in van Dongen’s portraits of the Parisian bourgeoisie in the following decades. His use of color and flat two-dimensionality as seen here would also prove influential to his future works—a bright coral lip, chartreuse shadows defining the jawline and chaotic, broadly-brushed lines against a neutral background amplify the model’s intense presence.
Van Dongen’s La Femme au chapeau has inspired wide esteem and a slew of eminent admirers, including the late Nelson Rockefeller, who acquired the painting in 1966. The celebrated politician and philanthropist was well-known as an avid art and historical object collector, establishing cultural centers like the former Museum of Primitive Art and befriending several Modern artists, including Fernand Léger. In 1980, the present work was bequeathed to the renowned collection of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where resided for more than two decades (see fig. 3). So beloved was this work that upon gifting this canvas to MoMA, Rockefeller commissioned a reproduction of the painting from Paul Kiehart which was later passed down through the Rockefeller family and remained until Happy's death (see fig. 4).
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