Lot 1062
  • 1062


1,000,000 - 1,800,000 HKD
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  • Adrien Jean Le Mayeur De Merprès
  • Women by the Pond
  • SignedThis work is accompanied by the artist's original hand carved Balinese frame. 
  • Oil on canvas
  • 56cm. by 66.5cm.; 22in. by 26¼in., in the original hand- carved Balinese frame


Property of the Estate of Wolfe Cohen, U.S.A.
Sotheby's Singapore, 16 May 1998, lot 27
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Private European Collection


This work is in good overall condition as viewed. There is evidence of light wear at the edges of the work due to abrasions with the frame. The paint layers are healthy and stable. Upon close inspection there is a line of media accretion along the lower right edge of the work that is inherent to the artist's working method. Examination under ultraviolet light reveals scattered pin-sized spots of restoration, there is evidence of in-painting at the lower right edge of the work, below the signature. Framed.
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

An enthralling, post-war piece by Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, Women by the Pond is provides spectators with a brief glimpse into the paradise that was Bali, and more specifically, the artist’s cottage in Sanur. A charming and dense composition, the present lot showcases the artist’s skilful ability to compress the all-encompassing beauty of his island home within the limiting confines of a canvas. In dousing the scene with dappled sunlight and pastel florals, the Belgian-born artist appears to perfectly command the essence of the moment, as he overflows the canvas with a nearly palpable atmosphere of luminosity and chromaticity. This present lot depicts a portion of the breath-taking garden that Le Mayeur and his wife built on the by the beach. For Le Mayeur, his beloved house was his temple, his utopia and his entire world – this was the heavenly space from which he drew inspiration and produced his most prolific works. In the same vein, the decorative ponds in his garden were constructed for the very purpose of facilitating the impetus behind his artistic genesis, as their surfaces reflected the elegant figures of his subjects and emulated the illusion of sunlight like no other. After moving to Bali in search of the three things he loved the most: “beauty, sunlight and silence”, Le Mayeur became increasingly obsessed with the intricacies of light, and became determined to study its mesmerizing impact on whatever surface it touched. Captivated by the realities he saw in the haven he created, Le Mayeur features a group of Balinese maidens in Women by the Pond, as they coexist in relaxation amongst sculptures, blossoming flowers and lush interweaving verdure.Idealized to its very core, Women by the Pond encapsulates Le Mayeur’s evocation of the tropical environs of Bali. Basking in the warm glow of the sultry sun, his models, at least one of them being his darling wife, Ni Pollok, go about their daily activities: to the left, two women pick flowers from a vibrant tree peppered with hues of magenta and orange, while next to them, three women tend to the vegetation by the pond in quiet serenity. With just a few swift strokes of his dextrous brushwork, Le Mayeur manages to transform seemingly mundane tasks into pictures of utter exquisiteness, as every feature, from his subject’s outstretched limbs to their intricately patterned sarongs, delineate the purity and sensuality of the Balinese beauties. Rendered in the shade, with the luscious intensity so characteristic of Le Mayeur’s post-war period works, the thick application of impasto belies his incredible ability to bring together the detail and atmosphere of the dream-like scene. In a pure and almost playful manner, Le Mayeur delineates the mass of intertwined flora, foliage and sculptures in the background, which, like thick curtains, give way to the centre of the enclave – the glimmering pond, which radiates with a pristine glow, and reflects the pastel hues of the sunset on its surface.

Le Mayeur suspends a perfect moment in time, as candied pinks and oranges dance across the canvas with a lightness and acuity that is synonymous with this master of Impressionism. The Balinese maidens appear to be blissfully unaware of the onlooker, as they circle the enclave, almost floating in their gentleness, while they go about their activities, and gather blooming stalks of flowers and loose petals. Le Mayeur unveils the femininity of their poise as he outlines their soft frames with attentive lines, while their emerald green and ruby red sarongs blanket their movements with an unparalleled grace. Not only does the pond serve an aesthetic purpose, but it also stands as a visual reminder of the rich cultural traditions that exist in Bali - guarding the pond are a handful of sculptures, which Le Mayuer built from white coral himself. The sun drenched composition is painted with an interplay of bright and muted tones, which encapsulates the profusion of ornamental beauty that surrounds the vista. Playing with the painting’s depth of field, the branches of flowers are deliberately denser and its brushwork looser, and leads the viewer’s eye towards the central opening that is the shimmering enclave.

Le Mayeur’s ethereal world of light and beauty is gorgeously animated in Women by the Pond, as he crafts an intimate vista of his garden through his highly impressionist style. The Balinese women’s unrestrained forms that inhabit the canvas are rendered in the artist’s freeing approach to the human anatomy, as he assembles their graceful figures alongside the handmade sculptures. Standing as a loving ode to the fabled island of Gods, its lush greenery and the ephemerality of its people, Women by the Pond is a timeless and luminous masterpiece by none other than the master of light himself.