La luxure, 1912
500,000 - 700,000 CHF
1865 - 1925
La luxure, 1912
Oil on canvas
Signed and dated upper right
114 x 146 cm (unframed); 135 x 168 cm (framed)
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The presence, or absence, of the nude in art representations has traditionally identified historical and stylistic situations. In established theories, the idealised nude is associated with the classical conception of art, in contrast to provocative, anti-classical art characterised by distorted figures. From its beginning, the 20th century included nudity among the fundamental artistic choices for its operation to fracture the past. In the early avant-gardes such as that of the German group of Kirchner's Brücke, or even in the Fauves, albeit with less harshness, the nude had a basic pictorial component and was an existential choice that united its pupils.
Félix Vallotton, from a Swiss bourgeois family who went to Paris in 1882, exemplifies his contribution to the modern predisposition in this artwork dated 1912. The painting lacks depth, but as a fine colourist Vallotton fills the space with vivid, intense and bright colours. The monumental work is one of the artist’s closest compositions to the Nabis style and that of Paul Gauguin’s followers.
Women are omnipresent in Vallotton’s work, whether in stylised nudes in later years or his major mythological scenes. Around 1910 Vallotton’s reputation rested mainly on his nudes. La Luxure, the composition of which is strongly influenced by his master Ingres and his Grade Odalisque, is a unique masterpiece on the market.
The theme of lust and deadly sins is recurrent in the history of Art, from Romanesque Art to Gaugin, as well as Chagall and Dali. However, with Vallotton, the idealized representation of the woman gives way to a description of the contemporary female, as he sees her. The eroticism does not reside in the description of the model with iridescent flesh but in the arabesque of the pose and the richness of the fabrics surrounding the model.
The title of the work was given by Vallotton's first dealer in Paris, Druet, who exhibited the work in 1913, and it was later noted by the artist himself in his Livre de Comptes. The painter thus confirms the allegorical meaning of the work, namely the lust towards a female temptress, with a body offered in an abundance of fabrics.