Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)

Nude with stove

Roderic O'Conor (1860-1940)
Nude with stove
stamped with the studio stamp 'atelier O'CONOR' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
21½ x 25¾ in. (54.5 x 65.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1911-1915.
Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Vente O'Conor, 7 February 1956.
with Crane Kalman Gallery, London, where purchased by the present owner's mother in April 1961.
J. Benington, Roderic O'Conor A Biography, with a Catalogue of his Work, Dublin, 1992, p. 209, no. 158.
Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Personal choice, paintings and sculpture from local private collections, July - August 1961, no. 58.
London, Browse and Darby, Roderic O'Conor Exhibition, October - November 1994, no. 20.

Brought to you by

Anne Haasjes
Anne Haasjes

Lot Essay

The capacious studio at 102 rue du Cherche-Midi on the Left Bank which O'Conor occupied from 1904 became the setting for countless paintings of female nudes. Early on his concern was to study the figure, not in isolation but as part of an intimate room setting. Nude with stove is a highly painterly and assured example of O'Conor's intimiste phase of work. It may be dated around 1911 due to its palette of white, red and blue - colours that have been applied using the type of soft, fluid brushwork that can be seen in works like Bleu et rose of 1911. Similarly, in Still Life with Tureen, Jug and Dish the artist had lavished his attention on background details that lent a domestic ambience to the work. In the case of Nude with stove, the mise-en-scène extends to a stove (open to show glowing coals), a china cabinet, two framed pictures, and a basin or hip bath propped against the wall. On the bottom shelf of the glazed cabinet, to the left, is the blue-and-white Chinese vase that would become a favourite still life prop, as seen for example in Le vase bleu of 1919.

In the foreground of the present work the model reclines on a capacious white drape spread across a crimson-upholstered chaise longue. By hiding the red material at the expense of the white, O’Conor could set off the delicate warm flesh tones against a cooler, paler colour. The resultant tonal changes have a subtlety and ease of handling that finds a parallel in the work of the American painter Frederick Frieseke, a friend of O’Conor’s who posed many of his nudes against white drapes. However, whereas Frieseke looked to Whistler for inspiration, the Irishman held the latter in low esteem. If a precedent were needed, he would no doubt have aspired to the close-toned modulations of Manet’s Olympia or Velasquez’s Rokeby Venus.

In Nude with stove the model's head is turned away from the viewer, intimating a private, if not reflective moment. It seems the young woman, having awoken, has cast off the covers, perhaps in readiness for washing and dressing. But this is not a boudoir scene, for the model reclines on a daybed, whilst the juxtaposition of fine furniture and art objects ensures an aura of cultured refinement. In this aestheticised context nudity is not a requirement of the artist, but rather the natural state of his subject.

We are very grateful to Jonathan Benington for preparing this catalogue entry.

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