GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
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On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial int… Read more Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection
GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)

Femme debout, en toilette de ville

GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
Femme debout, en toilette de ville
black Conté crayon on paper
12 3/8 x 7 3/8 in. (31.5 x 18.7 cm.)
Drawn in 1884-1885
André Teissier, Mâcon (1927).
Maurice Renou, Paris.
André Derain, Paris; Estate sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 22 March 1955, lot 11.
Baronne Alix de Rothschild, Paris (by 1959, then by descent).
Galerie Schmit, Paris.
Sarec, S.A., Geneva (acquired from the above, 20 March 1985).
Parana Development Company, Lugano (acquired from the above, 1988).
Galerie Schmit, Paris.
Acquired from the above by the late owner, 2001.
H. Dorra and J. Rewald, Seurat: L'oeuvre peint, biographie et catalogue critique, Paris, 1959, p. 143, no. 133a (titled Promeneuse, étude pour 'La Grande-Jatte').
C.M. de Hauke, Seurat et son oeuvre, Paris, 1961, p. 202, no. 623 (illustrated, p. 203).
L. Hautecoeur, Seurat, Milan, 1972, p. 89, no. 34 (illustrated).
A. Chastel and F. Minervino, Tout l'oeuvre peint de Seurat, Paris, 1973, p. 101, no. D 34 (illustrated).
R.L. Herbert, Georges Seurat, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1991, p. 179, note 3.
M.F. Zimmerman, Les mondes de Seurat: Son oeuvre et le débat artistique de son temps, Paris, 1991, p. 184, no. 347 (illustrated).
R.L. Herbert, Seurat and the Making of La Grande Jatte, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago, 2004, pp. 264-265, no. H 623 (illustrated, p. 269).
Paris, Galerie Paul Rosenberg, Exposition Seurat, February 1936, no. 120.
Paris, Galerie L.-G. Baugin, Dessins de maitres des XIXe et XXe siècles, May-June 1959.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Chefs d'oeuvres de collections françaises, 1962, no. 93.
Seattle, Pivot Art + Culture, A Closer Look: Portraits from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection, December 2016-March 2017.
Special notice
On occasion, Christie's has a direct financial interest in the outcome of the sale of certain lots consigned for sale. This will usually be where it has guaranteed to the Seller that whatever the outcome of the auction, the Seller will receive a minimum sale price for the work. This is known as a minimum price guarantee. This is such a lot.

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Max Carter
Max Carter Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, Americas

Lot Essay

Executed in a rich interplay of delicate strokes, Femme debout, en toilette de ville powerfully illustrates the captivating, compelling quality of Georges Seurat’s character studies in conté crayon, a material that he returned to repeatedly throughout his career and employed for his most successful drawings. Originally created as part of the artist’s extensive preparations for his monumental canvas Un dimanche d’été à l’Ile de La Grande Jatte, this exquisite work on paper records one of the central characters within the parade of elegantly attired figures that populated Seurat’s famous composition, many of whom he observed by chance during his visits to the Ile de La Grande Jatte. As Seurat himself explained in a letter to the critic Félix Fénéon dated 20 June 1890, he completed his first studies for Un dimanche d’été à l’Ile de La Grande Jatte at the same time that he began painting the large-scale composition, and over the following year and a half would move back and forth between drawings, outdoor sketches, and preparatory canvases in his studio, gradually changing and altering the final composition as his ideas developed.
In Femme debout, en toilette de ville perhaps the most iconic figure within the final composition is singled out for study—the young woman wearing a fashionable walking dress, replete with a close fitting bodice and large bustle, who promenades with a male companion and a pet monkey. Exuding a refined elegance and clear sense of self-possession as she surveys the scene before her, the woman’s sumptuous, ostentatious attire grants her a clear prominence among the rest of the crowd, marking her out as a uniquely fashion-forward creature. Here, Seurat carefully studies the woman’s pose, analyzing the effect of subtle shifts and alterations in her posture and costume, as he worked to refine her character. For example, though her arms are only summarily sketched—one resting against the folds of her skirt, the other lifted to waist height, where it will grasp the handle of a parasol in the final composition—they are captured in soft, supple lines that analyze the distribution of weight within the limb, conveying a sense of relaxation that disappears in the oil painting.
Similarly, Seurat plays with the height of his figure’s hat, raising its crown and adopting a sharply tapered design, while also adding full-length sleeves to the jacket. However, it is the woman’s skirt, with its highly fashionable “faux-cul” (literally, “fake-bottom”) that Seurat’s process of refinement is most evident. Mid-way through the process of painting Un dimanche d’été à l’Ile de La Grande Jatte, Seurat decided to enlarge the bustle of the woman’s dress, modifying its profile over the course of several drawings and oil studies in response to changing Parisian tastes, which favored evermore voluminous designs during the period 1884-1886. Here, Seurat examines the fall of the fabric, and the soft, rippling pleats of the skirt, capturing a sense of the layers of material and complex pattern of folds required to achieve the desired effect. By adopting a profile view, he may have been deliberately echoing images from contemporary fashion advertising and display, where models were typically shown side-on in the latest ready-to-wear designs in a manner that emphasized the exaggerated volume of the bustle.
The rich materiality of Femme debout, en toilette de ville has appealed to a number of collectors through the twentieth century. Most notably, the drawing was acquired by the artist André Derain, and remained in his personal collection until his death in 1954. The work was subsequently purchased by Baronne Alix de Rothschild, an important collector and patron of the arts, who headed several French and international committees working for the promotion of art and music around the world.

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