• Impressionist/Modern Evening S auction at Christies

    Sale 2216

    Impressionist/Modern Evening Sale

    3 November 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 26

    Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

    La blouse noire

    Price Realised  


    Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
    La blouse noire
    signed 'Van Dongen' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    31½ x 25¼ in. (80 x 63.8 cm.)
    Painted circa 1910

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Contact the department

    The Comité Van Dongen will include this painting in the forthcoming Kees van Dongen catalogue critique being prepared by Jacques Chalom des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

    The clamor and agitation of Fauvism soon passed in the wake of the revelatory Cézanne memorial exhibition held in the rooms of the 1906 Salon d'Automne. Most painters in Paris quickly fell under the spell of the newly deified master of Aix, whose example encouraged them to turn away from freely experimenting in color to instead pursue a more disciplined and analytical approach in their work. Van Dongen, however, was unmoved--he had already found his métier, and he "continued imperturbably in his triumphant use of color, staying in harmony with his own temperament, without further troubling himself with theories or with fashions in painting" (in G. Diehl, Van Dongen, New York, 1969, p. 49).

    In addition to showing regularly at the spring and fall salons of independent, progressive painting, Van Dongen was given two major solo exhibitions in 1908, one at Galerie Kahnweiler in March, and a much larger show at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in November. The latter was a major critical and commercial success, and thereafter Van Dongen's work was frequently seen in Paris and in exhibitions elsewhere throughout Europe, and he became famous from London to Cologne to Moscow. In 1912 the artist's now comfortable income enabled him to move from a studio in Montmartre to much larger quarters at 33, rue Denfert-Rochereau, near Montparnasse, where he began to host lavish parties that further added to the luster of his reputation.

    Van Dongen painted the present portrait during these years when he was confidently consolidating his career. He chose as his subject one of those young women who represented the new feminine face of Paris, who asserted their independence by wearing their hair short and adopting boyish airs. He placed her against an unadorned screen under the beam of an electric floodlight, which he began to use during this period to dramatize contrasts and to heighten the immediacy and directness of the images in his pictures. Some critics compared these paintings to Manet's portraits. The reviewer Galanti wrote in 1914:

    "The women he paints bears no resemblance to the dolls of Monsieur Boldini, Monsieur La Gandara and other 'dressers.' They disconcert us with disquieting charm, the feline suppleness of their limbs, the provocative beauty of their figures, and the mystery of their gaze. Van Dongens's art irresistibly draws us in, because it is filled with passion and ardent sensuality. The voluptuous appeal of some of these girlish faces is completely thrilling. Van Dongen has been accused of excessive indulgence in risqué nudes and indecent poses; he has even been criticized for being obscene. This is simply wrong. Van Dongen has no wish either to corrupt or to moralize. He has another goal. Whether he paints society women or prostitutes, errand girls or actresses, dancers or Oriental women, his constant and only concern is to capture on canvas, with extraordinarily rich colours, the form, appearance and soul of today's woman" (quoted in N. Bondil and J.-M. Bouhours, Van Dongen, exh. cat., The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 2009, p. 254).


    Max Moos, Geneva; sale, Sotheby's, New York, 21 May 1981, lot 547.
    Private collection (acquired at the above sale); sale, Sotheby's, New York, 11 November 1999, lot 289A.
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

    Saleroom Notice

    The Comité Van Dongen will include this painting in the forthcoming Kees van Dongen catalogue critique being prepared by Jacques Chalom des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.


    Geneva, Galerie Moos, Les maitres de la peinture contemporaine, 1930, no. 159.
    Geneva, Musée Rath, Van Dongen, October-November 1959, no. 102 (illustrated).
    Geneva, Galerie Moos, Exposition d'art français, 1961, no. 20.
    Paris, Musée national d'art moderne and Rotterdam, Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Van Dongen, 1967, no. 85 (illustrated).