KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
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Property of an Important Private European Collector
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)

Trinidad Fernandez

Details
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
Trinidad Fernandez
signed 'van Dongen' (lower left)
oil on canvas
26 x 21 1/8 in. (66 x 53.6 cm.)
Painted in 1910
Provenance
Robert Lebel, Paris (by 1962).
Private collection (by descent from the above, circa 1986); sale, Sotheby’s, London, 8 February 2012, lot 13.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature
J. Claude, "Un Salon russe dans l’atelier de feu Steinheil" in Le Petit Parisien, 21 October 1910, no. 12410, p. 2 (illustrated in situ at the 1910 exhibition).
J. Gallegos, "Crónica de Paris" in Goya, 1 July 1962, no. 49, p. 38 (illustrated, fig. 2).
C. Wentinck, Art in the Netherlands: Van Dongen, Amsterdam, 1964 (illustrated, pl. 4; dated circa 1907).
Exhibited
Paris, Villa Steinheil, Salon de la Société artistique et littéraire russe, October-November 1910.
Paris, Galerie Charpentier, Les Fauves, March-June 1962, no. 125 (dated circa 1907).
Munich, Haus der Kunst, Französische Malerei der Gegenwart, March-May 1963, p. 37, no. 84 (illustrated, fig. 1; dated circa 1907).
Paris, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, La grande aventure du Salon d’Automne, 75 ans d’ardeur, Les Fauves, November 1979, p. 54, no. 24 (illustrated in color, p. 27).
Saint-Tropez, Musée de l’Annonciade and Toulouse, Réfectoire des Jacobins, Kees van Dongen, July-November 1985, no. 30 (illustrated in color; dated 1910-1911).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum (on extended loan, 2013-2020).
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming Van Dongen digital catalogue raisonné, published by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute.

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Emily Kaplan
Emily Kaplan Senior Vice President, Senior Specialist, Co-head of 20th Century Evening Sale

Lot Essay

Painted in 1910, Trinidad Fernandez dates from one of the most important periods of Kees Van Dongen’s career, as he combined the energy and passion of Fauvism with a more modulated, nuanced means of pictorial expression. In late 1909 the artist had signed a contract with Félix Fénéon of Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, which assured him of a minimum income of 6,000 francs annually. Taking advantage of his newfound financial security, Van Dongen chose to go abroad, travelling to Spain and Morocco the following summer in search of artistic inspiration. Spending several weeks in Seville before moving on to Tangiers, the artist immersed himself in the culture and life of the South, attending flamenco performances and the famous corrida de toros displays, as well as exploring the two ancient cities. Van Dongen produced a string of dynamic and engaging compositions inspired by his experiences, focusing on a host of novel subjects, while the brilliant colors and dazzling sunlight infused his palette with a renewed vitality. The works he produced during and immediately after this trip formed the foundation of two important solo-exhibitions staged in 1911 at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune: Van Dongen HollandeParisEspagneMaroc, and Oeuvres nouvelles de Van Dongen.
In Trinidad Fernandez, Van Dongen focuses on the elaborate traditional costumes of the local women he encountered in Seville, a common thread that runs through many of his paintings from the trip. Here, the elegant lace mantilla hangs from his sitter’s peineta, a tall comb inserted in her hair, allowing the material to fall in an almost pyramidal shape around her face, the cloud of black material punctuated by the crown of bright red flowers nestled in her hair. Though little is known about the identity of Señorita Fernandez, Van Dongen captures a sense of her inner confidence, as she stares directly out at the viewer, holding us enthralled with her magnetic gaze. Set against an unadorned, monochrome backdrop, she is divorced from any context that may provide us further insight into her life, ensuring that our attention is focused solely on her striking dark features and enigmatic expression. The young woman’s face is modelled in an array of soft, shifting tonalities, with subtle hints of pink, lilac and green capturing the luminosity of her skin under the bright light. By adding these small flourishes of color, Van Dongen reveals that the lessons of his Fauve period were still being put to use, though now in a more nuanced manner.
Contemporary critics frequently lauded Van Dongen’s “Baudelairean gaze,” complementing his ability to capture the subtlest details of a scene; as the Dutch writer Carl Scharten observed: “What he sees, just so, instantly, as soon as it strikes him, that’s how it appears on canvas and paper; he can’t do it any other way” (quoted in A. Hopmans, All eyes on Kees van Dongen, exh. cat., Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010, p. 21). In Trinidad Fernandez, the artist includes a myriad of small, unexpected details in his sitter’s costume, rendering each individual element that has caught his eye. Shifting from long, sweeping strokes of pigment to short, stippled daubs of color, Van Dongen achieves a highly nuanced sense of texture across the composition, from the smooth, velvety finish of the model’s skin, to the soft folds of the diaphanous lace mantilla, and the seemingly hard, gloss surface of her ornate, red earrings. At the same time, the deliberately loose manner in which Van Dongen has rendered the patterns of the lace, the ruffles on her blouse, and the large flower decoration of her dress draws attention to the very act of the painting’s creation, making every gesture of the brush, each successive layering of pigment, visible on the surface of the canvas.
By placing his sitter in such a traditional costume, Van Dongen was tapping into a potent and evocative theme with a distinguished pedigree in French painting—espagnolisme. For over a century, artists of the School of Paris had been strongly attracted to the flesh-and-blood realism, the deeply sonorous color tonalities, and the sharp contrasts of light and shade that were the hallmarks of Spanish painting during its Siglo de Oro. In particular the much-admired art of Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Goya had stood as beacons for members of the Parisian avant-garde throughout the late nineteenth- and early twentieth- centuries, from Gustave Courbet and Edouard Manet, to Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso. Van Dongen’s fellow Fauve Henri Matisse, who also visited Seville during the winter of 1910, was equally fascinated by the elaborate clothing and textiles adopted by the women he had encountered on his travels through Spain. In his 1909 composition L'Espagnole au tambourin (State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow), Matisse adopts a similar strategy to Van Dongen by placing his female model against a loosely painted blue background, allowing the striking, rich colors and intricate details of her costume to stand out and become the central focus of the composition.

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