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    Sale 7702

    Impressionist/Modern, Day Sale

    5 February 2009, London, King Street

  • Lot 377

    Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968)

    Portrait de femme

    Price Realised  


    Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968)
    Portrait de femme
    signed 'van Dongen' (lower right); signed, dated and inscribed 'van Dongen 1909 Paris' (on the reverse)
    oil on canvas
    21¼ x 18¾ in. (54 x 47.6 cm.)
    Painted in 1909

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    Van Dongen arrived in Paris in 1897 but his official entry into the Paris art scene came in 1904, when an abundance of his paintings were exhibited at Vollard's gallery, the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d'Automne. Van Dongen moved with his wife and young daughter Dolly to a new, larger home on the Rue Saulnier after an exhibition at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1908 which included sixty-four of his canvases; the artist's relationship with Bernheim-Jeune would soon grow into a lucrative seven-year contract. By 1909, van Dongen had earned his place in the circle of artists which included Derain and Vlaminck, but in comparison with his more harmonious colleagues, van Dongen's ongoing use of bold colour and harsher, more brutal tones ultimately set him apart. Unsurprisingly, the German Expressionists appreciated his daring style; van Dongen's paintings were exhibited at the Flechtheim gallery in Dusseldorf in 1908, and Pechstein enthusiastically invited him to participate in an event of the Brücke group.

    The model depicted in the present portrait represents one of the endless variations of women van Dongen portrayed. Though she remains unidentified, she is neither the garish prostitute nor the beveiled gypsy. Her lack of confrontational sexuality renders her even more alluring; she is more mysterious for her lack of exoticism. Rather than the thick, black eyeliner of van Dongen's aggressive streetwalkers, this young woman's blue eyes are framed by feminine lashes, half-obscured by drowsy lids. Her cheeks are rosy with natural warmth instead of painted-on rouge, and the redness of her lips is more inviting than scathing. Her chaste dress is a virginal shade of blue, and her delicate locket appears in place of a choker. In fact, the only trace of the artist's characteristic garishness appears in the green shadows under this young woman's chin. These tinges not only evoke van Dongen's harsher, brasher women, they remind us of the expressive palette that is his signature.

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium


    Galerie Paul Pétridès, Paris.
    Wiener Gallery, New York.
    Margaret M. Enoch, by whom acquired from the above in July 1970; sale, Christie's, New York, 7 November 2007, lot 401 ($481,000).

    Saleroom Notice

    Jacques Chalom Des Cordes will include this painting in his forthcoming Kees Van Dongen catalogue critique being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.


    Albi, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Dongen, 1960, no. 270.