Lot 1011
  • 1011

GEORGES MATHIEU | La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc

Estimate
600,000 - 1,200,000 HKD
Sold
4,125,000 HKD
bidding is closed

Description

  • Mathieu, Georges
  • La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc
  • signed in French and dated 1982; signed and inscribed in French, dated 1982 on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 50 by 129.5 cm; 19 ⅝ by 51 in. 

Provenance

Collection of Régine Pernoud, Paris (gift of the artist in September 1982)
Thence by descent to the former owner
Important Private European Collection

Literature

Bulletin No.7, Association des amis du Centre Jeanne d’Arc, Orléans, 1985, cover

Catalogue Note

An Abstract Epic of Triumph in Battle: La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’ArcGeorges Mathieu was the founder of French Lyrical Abstraction, and in 1975, he became the first abstract painter elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Mathieu’s work was well known in France, and from the 1950s onward, he received many commissions from prominent institutions to create large paintings, to design buildings, and even to devise French currency. In August 1982, Régine Pernoud, noted historian and then-director of the Association des Amis du Centre Jeanne d'Arc, commissioned Mathieu to paint La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc, a monumental oil painting measuring 2 x 5 meters. After the painting was finished, it was sent to a major exhibition in Tokyo with the support of the Mitsukoshi Foundation. This reinforced Mathieu’s deep connection with Asia, which he had forged when he traveled to Japan in 1957 and inspired the Gutai movement. After the exhibition ended, La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc was purchased by the Orléans city government, and it was exhibited for a long period in the Hôtel de Ville until it entered the Musée des Beaux-Arts d'Orléans in 2018. To express his gratitude for Pernoud’s insight and judgment, Mathieu painted La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc (Lot 1011) in September 1982 at a size suitable for a private collection. In 1985, the work became the cover for the Association des Amis du Centre Jeanne d'Arc booklet, marking a valuable friendship between two of France’s giants of art and history.

 “This is where the Georges Mathieu’s name came to mind. Today's artist, the one who has successfully infused lyrical abstraction into everyday life... On Mathieu's large canvas, Jeanne (Joan of Arc) is a standard floating as if on the day when the sun started to shine again.”

Excerpt from Georges Matheiu: La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc by Régine Pernoud

Jeanne d’Arc or Joan of Arc (1412-1431) is a national hero in France. She was born during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). For many years, the English maintained military advantage in the conflict and steadily advanced into French territory. At age thirteen, Joan of Arc was touched by divine spirit and enlisted in the fight for her nation. She led the French forces in the Battle of Orléans in 1429 and successfully, broke a deadly siege, dealing the English a major defeat. This legendary event was the key to victory for France in the Hundred Years’ War. Mathieu, world-renowned for his abstract works, was also an avid student of French history. His large oil paintings entitled La Bataille de Bouvines and La Victoire de Denain, in 1954 and 1963 respectively, recast two important victories in French medieval history in the mode of Lyrical Abstraction. La libération d’Orléans par Jeanne d’Arc depicted an event that was even more meaningful because it represented a turning point in the Hundred Years’ War that repelled the complete invasion of France. French leaders, such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle, have long used the image of Joan of Arc to boost patriotism and enhance troop morale. When faced with this esteemed commission, Mathieu broke his rules for the only time in his life and introduced into the abstract painting figurative elements which present a classic scene of close combat at Orléans. The deep blue group on the left is the English army and the brilliant red and white with flags flying high in the sky on the right is the French army. The heroine, Joan of Arc, is in the center, leading the battle charge. The positions of the two armies engaged in a fierce fight extend into the background, which shows the mighty fortifications of Orléans. Traditionally in Europe, white symbolizes purity and victory, and as the verse from Revelations 3:5 affirms, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” In the painting, Orléans is suffused in a white light, indicating a clear sky. There are also a few points of white light over the French soldiers, alluding to the impending victory of the French army and presaging the immanent end of the Hundred Years’ War.



This work will be included in the Catalogue Raisonné of the artist, currently being prepared by Le Comité Georges Mathieu (n°GM80050)This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity issued by Comité Georges Mathieu, a certificate issued by Jean Marie Cusinberche; an original copy of Bulletin No.7, Association des amis du Centre Jeanne d’Arc, Orléans, 1985; and photocopies of the historical text and photos of Georges Mathieu, Régine Pernoud and La libération d’Orléans

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