This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jacques Chalom des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.
Private Collection, France (sale: Sotheby's, London, 29th November 1972, lot 108) Sale: Christie's, London, 25th June 2014, lot 325 Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Playful and spirited, Chat jouant avec des arômes reveals Kees van Dongen’s masterful handling of colour and illustrates his innovative approach to the still-life form. Van Dongen would return to the theme of the flower still-life throughout his career, often approaching the subject with a similar intensity to his Fauve works and paintings of women. The present composition is a vibrant and bold explosion of colour, further enlivened by means of broad, energetic brushstrokes and the sense of movement created by the cat seen playing with the flowers. Van Dongen has chosen the colours in the scene to reinforce one another according to the laws of complementary contrast: the brilliant blue of the vase against the lemon yellow background, the red of the table balancing the rich green of the tulips, thereby exploiting colour’s great power of expression to design an exceptionally bold and direct composition. No other artist at the time surrendered so unequivocally to the glory of colour, or achieved expressiveness with such economy of means. According to Denys Sutton, ‘[van Dongen] was a painter who found a natural means of expression in the use of thickly applied colour—bold stark reds, greens and blues, colours which, he once pointed out, held for him an almost symbolical meaning’ (William E. Steadman & Denys Sutton, Cornelius Theodorus Marie Van Dongen, Tucson, 1971, pp. 20-28).
The canvas is not lined. UV examination reveals several areas of consolidation to craquelure, principally in the dark red of the table, dark greens of the foliage and along the right edge of the cat. The impasto is rich and well-preserved and the small areas of craquelure visible in the green, yellow and red pigments appear stable. This work is in overall good condition. "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. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."