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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION


signed 'G Rouault' (lower left)
oil on canvas
32 x 23 3/4 in. (81.2 x 60.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1925
Marcel Fleischmann, Zurich, by 1937, until at least 1948.
Justin K. Thannhauser, New York.
Adolph A. Juviler, New York & Palm Beach, by 1959; their sale, Sotheby's Parke Bernet, New York, 25 October 1961, lot 37.
Acquired at the above sale by the family of the present owner.
L. Venturi, Georges Rouault, New York, 1940, fig. 138, p. 76 (illustrated pl. 113; dated 'circa 1930').
L. Venturi, Georges Rouault, Paris, 1948, p. 115 (illustrated pl. 79, p. 101; dated 'circa 1930').
L. Venturi, Rouault, Paris, 1959, pp. 135 & 85, (illustrated p. 84; dated 'after 1930').
P. Courthion, Georges Rouault, London, 1962, p. 436 (illustrated p. 157).
P. Bellini, Georges Rouault, Uomo e artista, Milan, 1972, no. 4 (illustrated).
B. Dorival & I. Rouault, Rouault, l'œuvre peint, Monaco, 1988, no. 994, pp. 236-238 & 298 (illustrated p. 298).
Rouault, Première période 1903-1920, exh. cat., Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1992, p. 225 (illustrated).
Paris, Petit Palais, Les Maîtres de l'art indépendant 1895-1937, June - October 1937, no. 3, p. 40 (illustrated).
Boston, Institute of Modern Art, Georges Rouault, Retrospective Loan Exhibition, November 1940 - March 1941, no. 64, p. 29; this exhibition later travelled to Washington, The Phillips Memorial Gallery; and San Francisco, The San Francisco Museum of Art.
New York, Perls Galleries, Georges Rouault, The Later Years, October - November 1960, no. 2 (illustrated; dated '1926-1930').
Edinburgh, Royal Scottish Academy, Rouault, Paintings and Drawings, August - September 1966 ; this exhibition later travelled to London, Tate Gallery, October - November 1966.
Paris, Musée National d'art Moderne, Georges Rouault, Exposition du Centenaire, May - September 1971, no. 35 (illustrated p. 75).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Georges Rouault, March - May 1974, no. 42, p. 36 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Manchester, City Art Galleries, June - July 1974.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Imogen Kerr
Imogen Kerr Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Renowned as a uniquely individual artist, George Rouault's practice resides within its own definition, escaping easy assimilation into any one artistic movement or school. In reality, Rouault owed his inspiration and development as an artist to a number of contributing factors, a mélange of influences seen on full display in his work Nu, painted circa 1925. Certainly, the artist must have melded his many influences in an attractive way to gain the attention of dealer Ambroise Vollard, known to have represented successful and groundbreaking artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
Perhaps the most striking visual influence present here is Rouault’s affinity for stained glass. Having completed an apprenticeship with a stained-glass artist in Paris, Rouault achieved in his artwork an understanding of light and colour altogether removed from his contemporaries. The most striking contrast of Nu arrives thanks to Rouault’s masterful play of light and shadow. The radiant nude form finds herself surrounded by a dramatic backdrop of rich, dark, surfaces. All of the picture’s light emanates from the nude, whom Rouault has placed not in the perfect center, but curving from one corner of the painting to the other. Rouault creates a clever visual conundrum where the work seems not to be lit from any point out of our view, but from behind or even within, mimicking a stained glass window aflame with sunlight pouring out towards the viewer.
The painting works then as a point of refraction, hinting at an uncertain form of subtle movement, that of fluid, bending beams of light. Here, Rouault creates another instance of visually satisfying contrast. The environment of the woman, composed of dark blues and greens, remains limited to a strict verticality of controlled strokes. On the other hand, Rouault grants the woman’s form more freedom, as bright slashes of red and yellow contour and bisect, further suggesting rays of seemingly real light entering the canvas from an unknown source.
Rouault’s dynamic use of colour in Nu calls to mind his association with contemporary Fauves like Henri Matisse and André Derain who shared a similar primary concern with the role of colour in creating a harmonious picture. Rouault’s use of colour marks a different approach, however – one tempered by inky, blotted lines of thick black paint that break the picture down into different zones, further accentuating the dark background and framing the fiery nude. The result is a striking visual experience, complete with the swimming colour that defined Rouault’s expressive contemplation of the human form.
Painted as the artist was approaching the age of sixty, Nu demonstrates Rouault’s triumphal return later in his career towards a complete focus on creating artwork that explores the most foundational aspects of painting. After decades of honing a style that blended his many experiences, Rouault found the opportunity to crystallize his sense of self on canvas, playing with the building blocks of colour and light to construct an emotional portrait that lives and breathes before our very eyes.
No surprise then that Nu was chosen for the significant 1937 exhibition at the Petit Palais, Paris, Les Maîtres de l'art indépendant 1895-1937, demonstrating the preeminence of French contemporary painters at the International Exhibition of that same year. Nu furthermore toured significant institutions across the United States of America and Europe as part of a number of the artist's most significant retrospectives over the latter half of the 20th Century, reflecting its significant achievement within Rouault's oeuvre as a work of great sensuality, masterful colouration and elegant expressionism.

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