Although Jan Sluijters painted and drew many different subjects during his long artistic career, he remains best known as a painter of women. In an interview in 1927 with M.J. Brusse he stated: "Ik vind 't bovendien haast vanzelfsprekend, dat je meer vrouwen dan mannen schildert. Ze zijn zoveel aardiger om naar te kijken. Een aardige vrouw kan van zich zelf ook iets moois, iets interessants componeren." (M. van der Wal, Jan Sluijters. Vrouwen, Zwolle 2002, p. 6).
The present lot makes part of a series of paintings dated around 1911 for which Sluijters' second wife Greet van Cooten posed. They had met during an exhibition he had organised with Cornelis Spoor and Piet Mondriaan in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1909. They would start living together in Amsterdam in 1911 and Greet would pose for him on many occasions until the end of his life. Greet was a lecturess when they met and she would often read to the artist. It is not a coincidence that she is often depicted reading or holding a book, like in the present lot.
The now so accepted subject of the nude caused a stir in Amsterdam in the first decades of the 20th century. Two of the series of nudes from 1911 were removed from the exhibition of De moderne kunstkring in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, because of their 'indecent, offensive and unchaste' nature. Before the late 19th century nudes where only depicted as part of a mythological, allegorical or biblical scene. A more realistic presentation of the nude was only introduced when a more general tendency to work after nature arose.
Before 1910 movement and anecdote still formed the main constituent of Sluijters' paintings. After that the tumult withdrew and the anecdote and the action completely disappeared. What remained were nudes in a decorative pose, with one or two arms raised, sometimes in contemplation or alert, but always distant and at the same time self confident and motionless. Once Sluijters had rediscovered the human figure, he felt strong enough to conquer the fast spreading international movements. Only few stylistically comparable nudes exist, since from 1913 onwards Sluijters would focus on cubism. Nudes from 1910-11 are considered to be the pillars of the artist's oeuvre.
To be included in the catalogue raisonné on the artist's work being prepared by the Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD) in The Hague.