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Paul Ranson (1861-1909)
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Paul Ranson (1861-1909)

Femme au chien qui porte un collier

Paul Ranson (1861-1909)
Femme au chien qui porte un collier
signed with the monogram (lower right)
tempera on canvas
51¼ x 37 3/8 in. (130.3 x 95 cm.)
Painted circa 1894-1895
Siegfried Bing, Paris, by whom commissioned from the artist in 1895.
Mme Michel Ranson, Paris.
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No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This work will be included as no. 780 in the forthcoming supplement to the Ranson catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Madame Brigitte Ranson-Bilker.

Painted in 1895 for Siegfried Bing's Maison de l'art nouveau in Paris, Paul Ranson's spectacular Femme au chien qui porte un collier is the only one of the stunning series of canvases he produced for this commission left in private hands.

In 1895 the German art dealer and collector Siegfried Bing opened his famous Maison de l'art nouveau at 22, rue de Provence and 19, rue Chauchat in Paris to showcase works by artists who would come to represent the Art Nouveau movement. Bing's new residence and gallery was modernised by the architect Louis Bonnier, with the decorative scheme for the interior largely undertaken by Henry van de Velde. Bing commissioned many artists to contribute, including his Nabi friends, with entire rooms given over to individuals to decorate in the Art Nouveau style. Thus Maurice Denis decorated a bedroom, Edouard Vuillard a small waiting room. Frank Brangwyn painted the panels in the rue de Provence entrance hall, while Albert Besnard decorated a sitting room and Charles Conder produced paintings on silk for one of the boudoirs. In addition Louis Comfort Tiffany provided the stained glass, in many cases working to the Nabi artists' designs; two Tiffany stained glass windows after designs by Paul Ranson are known, the location of neither is known. To Ranson himself was entrusted the decoration of the dining room of the Premier Salon de l'Art nouveau; in the same room the furniture was designed by Van de Velde and the decoration of the plates undertaken by Vuillard, reflecting Bing's conviction that diverse artistic techniques should collaborate to promote the union of art and craft, the entirety of the new movement.

Ranson executed four monumental horizontal canvases for Bing's commission, all depicting women at work in a rural setting and all painted in the delicate red and green tones of la peinture à la colle. Three of these paintings now reside in the Musée départementale Maurice Denis Le Prieuré in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Cinq femmes à la récolte [Ranson Bitker 166], Quatres femmes à la fontaine [RB 167] and Trois femmes à la récolte [RB 168]) while the last is in the collection of the Prefectoral Museum of Art in Niigata, Japan. In addition, Ranson painted three vertical works for the decorative scheme, Femme au chien qui saute, Femme à la cruche, which are both also in the Musée départementale Maurice Denis Le Prieuré in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, and the present work, Femme au chien qui porte un collier, the only canvas of the series not in a museum collection.

Although Femme à la cruche is narrower than the other two vertical compositions, the direct sister piece to the present painting, Femme au chien qui saute, is almost exactly the same format and, given the similarity of subject matter, it is reasonable to assume that they were conceived to hang as a pair in the decorative scheme. Although the figure of the girl faces the same way in each painting, Ranson has switched the position of the basket, the dog and the rock, leading one to assume that the present work was designed to hang on the left, the Saint-Germain-en-Laye painting on the right, creating a similar narrative flow as in the horizontal multi-figure paintings.

There exists a preparatory study for the figure in the present work, also in the collection of the Musée départementale Maurice Denis Le Prieuré in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, which shows her in almost the exact same position as in the finished painting.

Ranson's graphic style was perfectly suited to Bing's commission. The highly stylised, curvilinear nature of his compositions, allied to the gentle flowing rhythms of his subject and style, mirrored the Art Nouveau designs of the furniture beautifully and reflects the strong affinities between the Nabi movement and Art Nouveau. Ranson's curved lines in the Bing scheme, as well as the strong patterning of the painted surface and the flatness of the visual plane are strongly redolent of the influence of Japonisme and Japanese wood block prints that so characterises the Art Nouveau movement. Bing himself was instrumental in introducing this character into the art that he was so assiduously promoting, having run a flourishing business since the 1870s importing Japanese artworks to the West.

During the Maison de l'art nouveau's most successful period, 1896-1902, Bing dealt in a huge range of artistic work, including William Morris fabrics, Tiffany glassware, jewellery, paintings, ceramics, stained glass, and furniture in the Art Nouveau style. At its height, Bing's commercial enterprise reached from the Far East to the United States; his customers ranged from private collectors to major museums, and he helped to promote a global art market as well as the careers of many aspiring artists, sculptors and designers. Bing closed the gallery in 1904, a year before his death, as the fashion and demand for Art Nouveau was diminishing.

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