• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2702

    Southeast Asian Modern and Contemporary Art

    24 May 2009, Hong Kong

  • Lot 86

    ADRIEN-JEAN LE MAYEUR DE MERPRÈS (Belgium 1880-1958)

    Ni Pollok

    Price Realised  


    ADRIEN-JEAN LE MAYEUR DE MERPRÈS (Belgium 1880-1958)
    Ni Pollok
    signed 'J. Le Mayeur' (lower left); inscribed 'Me. Flor D'Auvray' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    35 1/2 x 29 1/2 in. (90 x 75 cm.)

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    The present composition constitutes part of the much celebrated Balinese oeuvres of Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprs, the painter-traveller who worked and lived in Bali from the 1930s to the end of his life. Le Mayeur proclaimed unabashedly to be an impressionist and lived his life pursuing sunlight and beauty. Bali with its tropical environ and an indigenous community described as a 'living museum' by anthropologists would be a perfect source of inspiration for the artist who has been to Africa, Southern France and India amongst many other places to paint.

    The present composition is infused with evocations of light, foliage, sky, land and sea. Le Mayeur was fascinated by the tropical fauna and flora and the infinite possibility of concoctions of light and shadow as the extravagant showering of light filters through the lush canopy. The work also suggests a stylized distillation of the characteristically effulgent light, sun-drenched beach and expansive sea of his environment, single-handedly created by the artist, his residence by the beach in Sanur, the garden with the lotus pond, generous growing of the hibiscus and certainly the main and only sitter for the work, Ni Pollok, a celebrated dancer who became the wife of the artist. This instantly acclaimed Balinese series certainly offered the artist a mine of possibilities that he continued to develop into an expanded series for over twenty years.

    With a Ni Pollok standing in the centre of the work and 3 other figures slightly pushed into the background, this is a colourful and intricate composition with a formalistic gravitas that serves as a common denominator within the artist's versatile body of work from his Balinese period. At once whimsical and weighty, this work addresses the tension between real and fictive space as well as that between naturalism and abstraction, a much neglected dichotomy of the Impressionist style which in its earnestness to depict nature as one sees it has resulted in appropriating it. Yet Le Mayeur's flat and brilliant application of colours emphasise the ascendancy of the image over any overall abstraction and therefore the figures and objects of the work do not recede into space but project from the picture plane.


    Acquired directly from the artist by Joseph Valentin Flor D'Auvray in the 1940s. Thence by descent to the present owner.


    Paul De Bont, Pollok: Hemelnimf En Hibicus Aan De Lagune, Waanders Uitgevers, p. 32 (illustrated twice in black and white)