Denis was deeply religious from an early age. Fascinated with the Renaissance and the works of Fra Angelico and other Quattrocento artists, he was drawn to the subject matter of mother and child throughout his career (see fig. 1). Here, he renders a visitation. A woman in contemporary fashion cradles a newborn baby while both a young child and the newborn’s mother look on affectionately. Denis imbues the room with a warm light, and the vibrant purple hue of the back wall further enlivens the scene. In actuality, this work depicts his wife Marthe welcoming visitors before the birth of their second daughter, Bernadette.
A harbinger of the Fauve movement soon to be developed by Henri Matisse, Henri Manguin and Albert Marquet among others, La Chambre violette has a sensibility more in line with Denis’ traditional devout principles, yet his use of color attests to his awareness and willingness to embrace certain elements of more revolutionary styles.
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