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Jan Toorop (1858-1928)
Jan Toorop (1858-1928)

Het aanzoek (La demande en mariage)

Jan Toorop (1858-1928)
Het aanzoek (La demande en mariage)
signé et daté 'J.THToorop.98' (en bas à gauche)
crayon de couleur, graphite et gouache sur papier
25.2 x 20 cm.
Exécuté en 1898

signed and dated 'J.THToorop.98' (lower left)
coloured crayon, pencil and gouache on paper
9 7/8 x 7 7/8 in.
Executed in 1898
Collection K. Kah, Steenwijk; Vente Christie's Amsterdam, 2 d/aecembre 1997, lot 318.
Kunsthandel Louk Brons, Amsterdam (acquis en 1997).
The Picadilly Gallery, Londres.
Galerie Hopkins-Custot, Paris.
Triton Collection Foundation, Pays-Bas (acquis auprès de celle-ci, en 2000).
S. van Heugten, Avant-gardes, 1870 to the Present, the Collection of the Triton Foundation, Bruxelles, 2012, p. 565 (illustré en couleurs, p. 131).

Brought to you by

Natacha Muller
Natacha Muller

Lot Essay

Gerard W.C. van Wezel a confirmé l'authenticité de cette oeuvre.

Jan Toorop was already a well-known artist when he, at the beginning of the 1890's, turned to Symbolism. In 1884 he had joined the influential avant-garde Belgian art society Les Vingt, formed by Octave Maus in Brussels. There he was one of the three foreign members, together with Auguste Rodin and Paul Signac. Their aim was to bring together artists who were moving in new directions, focusing not only on painting but also on literature and music. The group was open to all innovations and did not dogmatically restrict itself to a particular style. They organized international exhibitions to which they invited likeminded artists like Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézannee and Vincent van Gogh.
Toorop's major symbolist works were executed between 1890 and 1898. Toorop has made some fascinating symbolistic paintings, but was more renowned for his drawings. These brought him international fame and were executed with a wide range of materials such as pencil, black chalk and pastels, crayons, ink, watercolour and bodycolour. His craftsmanship was well recognized and Toorop was called the "draughtsman of the lines"; the pencil line dominates the sheet with sharp lines and floating parallel lines which curve away in different directions and serve to bind the figure together.
Toorop's use of symbolist motifs is, however, not easy to understand: often very complex and sometimes very personal. His sources are not always very clear: he was influenced by various religious, literary and musical sources as Maurice Maeterlinck, Pladan and Rose + Croix. In a strong linear style, he depicted fantastic and symbolic themes, often inspired by the work of mystical and symbolist writers. Whenever he was asked for the meaning of a work, he always said "Look at what I have made. That's where it is."
Just as for many symbolist artists the theme of femininity was a central theme in Toorop's art; the woman, not so much as femme fatale, as destroyer, as often in the work of symbolist artists as Fernand Khnopff and Franz von Stuck, but more as an ascetic creature, a sphinx or a Mater Dolorosa. In his somewhat incomprehensible symbolism, not only the image of the passive woman played an important role but also her relationship towards man. In his famous work The Sphinx, now in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, which he finished in 1897, he depicted as he said "the mystery of life".
We do not know the exact meaning of the present work Het aanzoek. Apparently the nude, a bride-like figure is in a devoted trance. She is one with the androgynous figure, man or angel, who is standing behind her and is presenting her a ring. Their faces are mingled and become as one. The tree at the left, full with leaves, might be interpreted as the tree of life.
There is another, smaller version of this drawing from the same year. In this work the houses in the background are left out and the woman wears a veil to hide part of her body. Toorop used the popular theme of the bride before, as an emblem of chastity and purity, in his famous The Three Brides, from 1893, now in Museum Kröller-Müller.

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