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Jacques Villon (1875-1963)
Jacques Villon (1875-1963)

Chanson, les amants

Jacques Villon (1875-1963)
Chanson, les amants
signed and dated 'Jacques Villon 26' (lower left)
oil and pen and India ink on canvas
23 ½ x 31 ¾ in. (59.7 x 81.6 cm.)
Painted in 1926
Katherine S. Dreier, West Redding, Connecticut (acquired from the artist, 1926).
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (bequest from the above, 1953).
Private collection, Zurich; sale, Christie’s, London, 1 December 1992, lot 148.
Acquired at the above sale by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C. Whitehead.
K.S. Dreier, Modern Art, New York, 1926, p. 17 (illustrated).
A.Z. Rudenstine, The Guggenheim Museum Collection, Paintings, 1880-1945, New York, 1976, vol. II, p. 681, no. 245 (illustrated in color, p. 682).
Brooklyn Museum, An International Exhibition of Modern Art Assembled by the Société Anonyme, November 1926-January 1927, no. 61.
New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, In Memory of Katherine S. Dreier, December 1952-February 1953, no. 70 (illustrated).
Lawrence, Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art; Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou and Berkeley Art Museum, University of California, Early Modern Art from The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, August 1983-January 1987.
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, The Whitehead Collection, Late 19th and 20th Century French Masters, 1997, p. 160, no. 94 (illustrated in color, p. 161).

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Morgan Schoonhoven
Morgan Schoonhoven

Lot Essay

Patrick Bongers has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

Chanson, les amants is a tough, muscular rendition of a composition first conceived in three dimensions by Jacques Villon's brother, Raymond Duchamp-Villon. Created in 1908 and titled Chanson, les amants, the sculpture was executed in plaster, which resides at the Centre Georges Pompidou and also in wood, housed in the The Art Institute of Chicago. It seems likely that Jacques Villon must have owned either of these versions when he created this painting. The oil is far more masculine than the naturalistic, lyrical sculpture produced by Duchamp-Villon; the tensions of the interlocking planes, the juxtapositions of shapes and the ambiguous definition of space give the painting a monumentality which is noticeably lacking in the sculpture.
The figures in the painting are perfectly balanced. It is interesting to note that Villon would frequently return to even his most successful paintings to rework them; here, for example, he has added extensive cross-hatching in pen and black ink, which he discussed in great detail with Dora Vallier in 1957. The present work was first owned by one of 20th-century art's most influential figures, Katherine S. Dreier, who bequest the painting as well as important works by Kurt Schwitters, Alexander Calder and Constantin Brancusi to The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

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