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Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
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Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)

Ma gosse et sa mère

Kees van Dongen (1877-1968)
Ma gosse et sa mère
signed and dated 'V.Dongen' (lower left); further signed 'Kees Van Dongen' and titled 'ma gosse et sa mère' (on the stretcher)
oil on canvas
39¼ x 31 5/8in. (100.1 x 81cm.)
Painted circa 1908
Liebknecht Collection, Frankfurt and Berlin.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
D. Gordon, Modern Art Exhibitions 1900-1916, vol. II, p. 266.
Moscow, Salon of the Golden Fleece, April-May 1908, no. 50.
Special Notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.
Sale Room Notice
To be included in the forthcoming Kees Van Dongen catalogue raisonné being prepared by Jacques Chalom Des Cordes under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Lot Essay

A striking example of figurative fauvism Ma gosse et sa mère was exhibited at the highly important 'Golden Fleece' exhibition of 1908. This exhibition introduced the French Fauve painters to Moscow whilst simultaneously exhibiting the work of avant-garde Russian artists. The European section included over 200 works by Braque, Cézanne, Matisse, Bonnard and four works by van Dongen. The exhibition took its name from the Russian symbolist journal 'Zolotoe Runo'. The journal and the exhibition were both sponsored by Nikolai Ryabushinsky, a patron of many early avant-garde artists, and a member of a wealthy Moscow banking family.

Van Dongen had always been on the fringes of pure Fauvism, being more instinctively drawn to figurative painting than to landscapes, yet the inclusion in this exhibition of Ma gosse et sa mère, as well as La dame aux gants noirs (Fig. 3) heralded a transition in van Dongen's commercial career. The four works exhibited were for sale, La dame aux gants noirs eventually passing to the Pushkin Museum.
Ma gosse et samère depicts van Dongen's wife Guus and his young daughter Dolly, born in April 1905 (Fig. 1). For van Dongen women represented "the earth and all that is real, the fire of life, the wife as well as the mistress; the epitome of sensuality" (quoted in Jean-Louis Ferrier The Fauves, The Reign of Colour, Paris, 1992, p. 149).The fact that Dolly appears in this painting to be a babe in arms suggests that the work may have been painted as much as two or three years prior to being shown at the 'Golden Fleece' exhibition.

Capturing the 'fire of life'that van Dongen associated with the female sex, Ma gosse et sa mère can be seen as the culmination of the subject of maternity which he had handled a number of times during this early period of his career. This work represents a move away from the paintings of bohemian Montmartre life to that of greater elegance and beauty: a move that corresponds with the change of van Dongen's address from the Bateau-Lavoir in 1907 to the more comfortable lodgings in the rue Lamarck in 1908 and rue Saulnier in 1909.


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