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Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Property from a Private American Collection 
Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

Omnibus Madeleine Bastille

Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Omnibus Madeleine Bastille
signed 'Van Dongen' (lower right)
oil on canvas
20 x 25¾ in. (50 x 65.4 cm.)
Galerie René Drouet, Paris.
Mr. and Mrs. Neison Harris, Chicago (acquired from the above, 8 October 1985).
By descent from the above to the present owner.
Tokyo, Van Dongen Exposition, 1978, no. 13.
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Lot Essay

To be included in the forthcoming Kees Van Dongen catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jacques Chalom Des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Van Dongen evokes in Place Pigalle la nuit his early years in Montmartre, where the Dutch artist made his home in 1900. There were times when the artist could barely feed his family, but he then achieved success in his first solo exhibition at Ambroise Vollard's Gallery in 1904, and contributed two paintings to the notorious "salle des Fauves" at the 1905 Salon d'Automne. He quickly established a reputation as being one of the most exciting and provocative painters in the Parisian avant-garde. In the years following the First World War van Dongen became a virtual celebrity and enjoyed a lavish life-style, and was the most sought-after portraitist of the day.

The present painting shows the Place Pigalle, on the Boulevard de Clichy bordering the lower part of Montmartre, looking northward, with the beacon atop the distant campanile of Sacré-Coeur shining through the rainy night. The brilliant globe-lights of a theatre marquee illuminate the street, revealing a news kiosk, people alighting from a horse-drawn double-decker trolley on the Batignolles-Odeon route, with a taxi-carriage alongside, and various passersby. The artist's loose brushwork and his preference for blending colors directly on the canvas have effectively rendered the glow of the lights in the moist air, and their reflection on the wet cobblestones.

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