1106
1106

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès
LE TABLEAU CHINOIS
Estimate
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 10,375,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT
1106

PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED PRIVATE EUROPEAN COLLECTION

Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès
LE TABLEAU CHINOIS
Estimate
3,000,0005,000,000
LOT SOLD. 10,375,000 HKD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong

Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès
1880-1958
LE TABLEAU CHINOIS
Signed; titled on the reverse 
Oil on canvas
76 by 91 cm; 29 3/4  by 35 3/4  in. 

This work is accompanied by the artist's original hand-carved Balinese frame.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Christie’s Singapore, 18 May 1998, Lot 20
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Private European Collection

Catalogue Note

Painted in the late 1940s, Le Tableau Chinois is instantly set apart for but one reason: its setting. In a brief departure from his customary en plein air paintings, over the course of his career Le Mayeur had created a limited collection of works set in the elegant confines of his Balinese home, of which this piece is a prized example. In his initial years of moving to Bali, the artist first lived in the village of Kelandis. After his marriage to Ni Pollok, the couple moved to a cottage in Sanur beach, where he would permanently remain until the end of his life. Secluded from the more densely populated areas of Bali, Le Mayeur set about surrounding himself with objects, nature and people that would inspire his work. His home was expansively filled with sunlight and the sea breeze - an intimate personal escape set amidst the tropical paradise of Bali.

 

Not content to observe and render nature in his art alone, Le Mayeur resolved to exist entirely within it, and his house featured numerous open windows, deep patios and walls open to light. Just as the artist had been inspired by the abundance and beauty of his natural environment, he constructed his home in the very image of his surroundings. As his friend, the American multi-millionaire Joe Kirkwood, enthused in admiration, “He was more or less alone on this stretch of sand... My host’s cottage was unique unto itself with his canvases and ancient wood carvings on every wall…In the evening the atmosphere became even more dreamlike with the changing patterns of light and shade playing on the colours of the forest and sea.”[1] By far, the artist’s favoured spot was by his windows- a place he frequently returned to in his indoor compositions - and this features prominently in this work, where he had models pose in an array of postures, accented by the light streaming through the slats. Beyond this window, the vivid turquoise blue of the sea in the distance illuminates the darker foreground, while small strokes of red, green and yellow reveal the lush gardens that decorated Le Mayeur and Pollok’s home.

 

In Le Tableau Chinois, two Balinese women sit on a rug on the floor, leaning over and admiring a painting of a Chinese woman posed in courtly ceremonial robes. The background wall is rendered ambiguously, suggesting the traditional Balinese carvings that adorned Le Mayeur’s interiors. The scene presented to the viewer is still and focused, as the women engage in their quiet aesthetic contemplation of the art. By placing an artwork within the frame of the painting, Le Mayeur plays with the themes of voyeurism and viewership. The viewer’s gaze is at once engaged and consciously confronted with the very act of seeing and admiring a work of art. Furthermore, the image held between Le Mayeur’s models serves as an amusing play on how women are portrayed in art. On one hand, the artist presents two Balinese women seated languidly on the floor, their sun-kissed backs facing the viewer. On the other hand, the Balinese subjects observe another female figure – fully clothed in traditional attire and standing almost formally at a table. At once thoughtful yet charming, this wonderful juxtaposition aligns

 

Indeed, the artist had filled his house with art, flowers and a vast collection of ‘beautiful things’, simply to render his surroundings most conducive to inspiration: “I’ve evidently made all things serviceable to my art…And my urge to set to work and render expression to all those things enchanting me never left me for even a single instant during all those years.” [2] Combining his love for art – both in painting and appreciating them - with his enchantment for the dignity of the Balinese women in one single canvas, Le Tableau Chinois embodies his lifelong artistic motivation – that ‘everything in this little paradise which I created for myself was made to be painted.’[3]

 

Typical of Le Mayeur’s evolving post-war style, combinations of short, broken brush strokes determine the impression of the objects. The present scene is drawn with a careful attention to perspective and retains a life-like, yet artistic consistency. The artist renders his subjects in a wealth of descriptive detailing, from the translucency of the window curtains to the minute patterning and darkened creases along the rug, as well as the multicoloured fabrics of the women’s sarong. All these are at once painterly subtle and true-to-life. In the distance beyond the window, features of the house’s surroundings remain authentically indistinct, with outlines of trees and bright pink flowers blurred and achieving the effect of dimension, beyond the strict flat surface of the canvas.

 

Throughout his life, the artist was a great lover of light and depended on it entirely to create mood. Even indoors, Le Mayeur was fully conscious of the effects of sunlight upon the scene, channeling and reproducing it to impart his canvas with an organic, atmospheric air. Inside, light takes on a warmer, more muted quality in the cool wooden shade of the house, in contrast with the luminous, almost glaring rays captured in his outdoor works. By the window, the sunlight casts upon the surface of the painting and reflect off the women’s skin, while creating shadows that are subtly pooled on the floor, concentrating around the outlines of the figures.

 

Le Tableau Chinois reflects the artist’s sensitive eye, even for these quiet, fleeting moments. Above all, rather than creating cold set pieces, Le Mayeur committed to and painted only the things and places he loved, and these motifs recur throughout all his best works. He dedicated himself entirely to his craft, and lived a life solely to represent beauty in its simplest, most instinctive and unaffected forms.

“I’ve had a cottage built on the seashore, far away from other people, especially Europeans. As it is in the middle of a paddy it can only be approached by way of the beach…our little house makes up a worthy frame around her [Pollok’s] beauty” [4]

[1] Joe Kirkwood, Links of Life, 1973, p.83-84.

[2] Jop Ubbens, Cathinka Huizing, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres, Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger, Pictures Publishers, Amsterdam, 1995, p.120

[3] Jop Ubbens, Cathinka Huizing, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merpres, Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger, Pictures Publishers, Amsterdam, 1995, p.120.

[4] Ibid, p. 109

Modern and Contemporary Southeast Asian Art Evening Sale

|
Hong Kong