PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)
PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)
PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)
PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)


PAUL DELVAUX (1897-1994)
signed and dated 'P. Delvaux 11-56' (lower right)
oil on panel
51 x 51 in. (129.7 x 129.7 cm.)
Painted in November 1956
The artist's studio, Boitsfort.
René Simonis, Brussels, by 1962; sale, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 3 December 1975, lot 48.
Private collection, Switzerland, by whom acquired at the above sale, and thence by descent; sale, Christie's, London, The Art of the Surreal, 4 February 2009, lot 44.
Private collection, Europe, by whom acquired at the above sale; sale, Christie's, New York, 5 November 2014, lot 32.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
L.L. Sosset, 'Les expositions à Brussels', in Les Beaux Arts, 5 April 1957, no. 767 (illustrated p. 5).
L.L. Sosset, 'Un monde d'évasion en suspens: Paul Delvaux', in Le Rail, January 1965, no. 101 (illustrated p. 23).
L.L. Sosset, 'Een wereld van magisch realisme: Paul Delvaux', in Het Spoor, January 1965, no. 101 (illustrated p. 23).
P.A. de Bock, Paul Delvaux, l'homme, le peintre, psychologie d'un art, Brussels, 1967, p. 297 (illustrated pl. 119, p. 193).
M. Butor, J. Clair & S. Houbart-Wilkin, Delvaux: Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint, Brussels, 1975, no. 226, p. 241 (illustrated).
Charleroi, Cercle royal Artistique et Littéraire, Salle de la Bourse, XXXIe Salon, hommage à Marc Chagall, rétrospective Paul Delvaux, March - April 1957, no. 66.
São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, Pavillon belge, IV Bienal, September - December 1957, no. 7 (illustrated).
Ostend, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Paul Delvaux, July - August 1962, no. 50.
Geneva, Galerie Krugier, Rétrospective Paul Delvaux, September - October 1966, no. 15.
Brussels, Musée d'Ixelles, Paul Delvaux, November - December 1967, no. 32 (illustrated).
Brussels, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Paul Delvaux, March - July 1997, no. 87 (illustrated p. 144).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Ottavia Marchitelli
Ottavia Marchitelli Senior Specialist, Head of The Art of The Surreal Sale

Lot Essay

Among Paul Delvaux’s earliest memories were the sounds of tramcars rolling along the streets of Brussels. ‘As a child,’ he recalled to Jacques Meuris, ‘I liked trains and this nostalgia has stayed with me... I paint the trains of my childhood, and consequently, that childhood itself’ (P. Delvaux quoted in M. Rombaut, Delvaux, Barcelona, 1990, p. 22). He imagined becoming a stationmaster, and even as those dreams reoriented towards the arts, trains remained foundational: Some of his earliest pictorial subjects were the railway lines that traversed the Gare du Quartier Léopold in Brussels before the construction of a new station, today the Gare de Bruxelles-Luxembourg, altered the city’s infrastructure. ‘I remember the Station of the Léopold Quarter when I was 4-5 years old,’ Delvaux said, ‘seeing the waiting rooms of the second and third class, and through the windows I could see the old cars of the times, the old cars that were in use around 1903, the old copper cars’ (P. Delvaux quoted in Z. Barthelman & J. van Deun, Paul Delvaux: Odyssey of a Dream, Saint-Idesbal, 2007, p. 16). The faint hum of these cars heading towards the Gare du Quartier Léopold can almost be heard in the background of Faubourg, 1956.
In addition to his childhood recollections, Delvaux drew inspiration from the semi-obscured trains that run along the horizon of many of Giorgio de Chirico’s compositions, his favourite modern painter, whom he called the ‘poet of emptiness...because he suggested that poem of silence and absence’ (P. Delvaux quoted in M. Rombaut, op. cit., p. 14). The carriages Delvaux preferred to depict, as seen in de Chirico’s paintings as well as the present work, are not electric but rather those that date the turn of the century. Explaining this predilection, he said, ‘The old steam machines had something human, when they started with their power. I believe that the steam machine fits a painting much better. I believe it has a certain ‘oldness’ and this ‘oldness’ has become customary in my work’ (P. Delvaux quoted in Z. Barthelman and J. van Deun, op. cit., 2007, p. 45).
On the surface, Faubourg may seem to represent a quotidian scene – the suburban district that the title references – but the work is uncanny, infused with the an atmosphere of mystery and uncertainty. Like de Chirico, Delvaux too sought to establish a visual idiom in which crisply defined architectural environments could invoke feelings of solitude, nostalgia, or even danger. Yet the manner in which he structured his scenes looks further back in time, to the perspectival geometry of early Renaissance art, such as Giotto’s arrangements in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua. Delvaux came into contact with the Quattrocento during a trip to Italy towards the end of the 1930s. The classical monuments and frescoes he encountered while travelling through Florence, Naples, and Rome presented a wellspring of inspiration for the young artist.
Indeed, set at the edges of a city, Faubourg presents an enigmatic world in which time has been halted. A sliver of moon illuminates a row of houses in front of which a train passes. In the foreground, three small trees grow incongruously within a vacant lot. Light spills out in spite of the dark. This is a world on the edge but of what has yet to be revealed. ‘I returned to the tranquil railway stations…where antique engines pull the trains of our grandparents time,’ Delvaux said of works such as Faubourg (P. Delvaux quoted in B. Emerson, Delvaux, Antwerp, 1985, p. 163). ‘The childhood impressions return’ he said of these paintings, ‘they are not unhappy ones – and they touch me deeply, bathed as they are in mystery’ (ibid.). Drawing from a precise catalogue of meticulously rendered imagery, Delvaux constructed his own inscrutable universe, offering a view onto a world that exists only within his mind.

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