Lot 1052
  • 1052


5,500,000 - 7,500,000 HKD
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  • Adrien Jean Le Mayeur De Merprès
  • Women on the Terrace
  • Signed 
  • Oil on canvas
  • 90.5cm. by 110.5cm.; 35½in. by 43½in., in the original hand-carved Balinese frame


Sotheby's Singapore, 3 October 1998, Lot 22
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner 
Private European Collection 


Jop Ubbens, Cathinka Huizing, Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, 1880-1958: Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger, Pictures Publishers, Amsterdam, 1995, p.166, color plate 261


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence of very fine, hairline craquelure, most visible in areas of thicker impasto, but this is consistent with the age of the work and the nature of the medium. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals a few very small, pinhead sized spots of restoration in a few areas (example at the bottom right corner of the work, at the hair of the three girls on the right side.) Framed, in the artist's original frame.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

A rapturous coalescence of beatific colors, Women on the Terrace is a striking masterpiece by Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès that captures the lively exuberance of Bali’s culture against a stunning backdrop of the island’s vistas. Paying homage to the romantic nostalgia of old Bali, this brilliant work embodies the maestro’s virtuosity and his unending chase of light. Driven by an ardent desire to capture the subtle intricacies of light and colour, the Belgian artist travelled across continents, before eventually finding his muse in the bustling Balinese islands. Its incandescent, sunlit nature appealed greatly to Le Mayeur’s Impressionist tendencies, the setting inspiring one of the most prolific periods of his career. Produced at the height of Le Mayeur’s zenith, the radiant work is a captivating highlight that encapsulates the finest qualities found his  artistic oeuvre.  
Both a luminist and colorist, Le Mayeur bathed his sceneries with the sultry Balinese sunlight and a prismatic vision of colors that captured the island’s lively tropical atmosphere. Saturating the scenery with rich hues of fiery red, yellow ochres and sea-greens, he imbues the painting with a festive vibrancy found in the colorful Balinese culture. The lush, jewel tones that accent the dense foliage is a departure from the pastel palette found in Le Mayeur’s earlier, pre-war works (1932-37), emboldening the work with chromatic intensity. Painstakingly painted with delicate intricacy, the sarong’s batik patterns are dyed in similarly striking colors of ambers and burnt oranges, juxtaposed against darker shades of violet and crimson. The multi-colored sarongs encase the bronzed women in a tight embrace, accentuating the voluptuous sensuality of the Balinese maidens. Posed in riveting stages of dance, they exude a spirited liveliness that echoes the scene’s vivacity. Le Mayeur’s skilful portrayal of their dance is the culmination of years spent watching Balinese Legong performances, before finally finding his future icon and dancer who would dominate his oeuvre, Ni Pollok. 

In the midst of the shaded enclave, sunlight pierces through the thick canopy of leaves and pools into a gilded spotlight, blanketing the dancing women in the hazy afternoon light. Blossoming flora fall in pendulous sways above the women, its curling branches and vines drawing the gaze to the enthralling performance in the clearing. In the vignette of light, the models gleam with impastos of warm yellow, as if they were embodiments of the sun itself. Sequestered in the comfort of the adumbral shade, their companions watch the performance unfold in tranquil repose. Two women stand tall in outstretched jubilation, both mirroring each other in playful rapport. The others lay in restful silence, basking in serene contentment of each other’s company. Even in the shadows, the women are lit up in gradations of orange, yellow and umber, their sun-kissed bodies emanating a golden warmth. Under radiant streams of light, the maidens stand unified with the landscape in euphoric unity. 

Light, pearlescent washes stain the far-flung horizon in rosy hues of pink and violet, the cool tones differentiating the setting sky from the sunlit terrace. The cerulean ocean underneath is executed with increasing viscosity, vacillating between shades of blue that act in diametrical opposition with the warm, yellowed clearing. In a masterful display of acuity and expertise, Le Mayeur evokes a harmonious interplay of color that binds the distant vistas with the populous landscape. The tension elicited by the opposing tonalites instead offer an intriguing texture and depth to the seascape, curating a refreshingly stunning depiction of the celestial skies.

Peppered with multiple figures dynamically motioning against their natural mileu, this highly detailed and rare composition hails from the pinnacle of Le Mayeur’s oeuvre and encompasses all the themes that define his prized aesthetic. Le Mayeur said: “You will understand my paintings wherever you may see them. For everything in this little paradise which I created for myself was made to be painted.”[1] In the little world that Le Mayeur had carved for himself, he enlivens the halcyon days spent painting on the coastal shores of Bali. The painter integrates the picturesque Balinese terrain and its bustling traditions with splendid dexterity, the enchanting spectacle providing a glimpse into his vision of paradise.

[1] Joy Ubbens, Cathinka Huzing, Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, 1880-1958: Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger, Amsterdam 1995, 120