KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
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KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)

Nuages, ou Guus Van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues

KEES VAN DONGEN (1877-1968)
Nuages, ou Guus Van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues
signed 'Van Dongen' (lower left); signed again with the initials 'V.D.' (upper left)
oil on canvas
28 7⁄8 x 36 ¼ in. (73.5 x 92 cm.)
Painted in Fleury-en-Bière in Summer 1905
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 28 December 1906.
Samy Chalom, Paris, and thence by descent by 1962.
Leonard Hutton Galleries, New York.
Acquired by 1971, and thence by descent to the present owners.
A. v. V., 'Rotterdamsche Kunstkring: Kees van Dongen' in Algemeen Handelsblad, no. 24828, Amsterdam, 13 June 1906, p. 7.
P. Hepp, 'Les Expositions - Van Dongen (Galerie Bernheim)' in La Grande Revue, Paris, 10 December 1908, p. 607.
L. Chaumeil, Van Dongen, L’homme et l’artiste - La vie et l’œuvre, Geneva, 1967, no. V, p. 325 (illustrated p. 225).
J. M. Kyriazi, Van Dongen et le Fauvisme, Lausanne, 1971, no. 31, p. 146 (illustrated p. 79).
M. Giry, Le Fauvisme, ses origines, son évolution, Neuchâtel, 1981, p. 134.
G. Nevejan, Le Portrait feminin dans l’œuvre de Kees Van Dongen, Paris, 1983, no. 16 (illustrated pl. 16).
A. Devroye, L’œuvre de Kees Van Dongen jusqu’en 1920, L’École du Louvre, 1984, no. 55.
M. Giry, 'Les années fauves de van Dongen' in Kees van Dongen 1877-1968, exh. cat., Saint-Tropez, 1985.
Exh. cat, Paris Aujourd'hui, Paris, 1990, no. 6 (illustrated).
'Van Dongen: Un peintre authenthique' in L'Amateur d'Art, Paris, 1990 (illustrated).
A. Hopmans, All Eyes on Kees van Dongen, exh. cat., Rotterdam, 2010, p. 23 (illustrated).
A. Hopmans, Van Dongen: Fauve, anarchiste et mondain, exh. cat., Paris, 2011, p. 27 (illustrated).
Paris, Galerie E. Druet, Kees van Dongen: Une saison, October - November 1905, no. 16.
Rotterdam, Kunstkring, Tentoonstelling van schilder - en teekenwerk van Kees van Dongen, May - June 1906, no. 58; this exhibition later travelled to Zwolle, June 1906.
Moscow, Dom Chludovikh, Exhibition of Paintings: Salon Golden Fleece, April - May 1908, no. 51.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition van Dongen, November - December 1908, no. 26.
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Exposition Van Dongen, June 1911, no. 5.
Asnières, Salon des arts, Hommage à Van Dongen, 1962, no. 12, p. 14 (illustrated; titled 'Maternité').
New York, Leonard Hutton Galleries, A Comprehensive Exhibition of Paintings 1900 to 1925 by Van Dongen, November - December 1965, no. 2 (titled 'La Maternité' and dated '1900').
The Hague, Gemeentemuseum, licht door kleur nederlandse luministen, December 1976 - February 1977, no. 8, p. 33 (illustrated pl. XIII, p. 37).
Martigny, Fondation Pierre Gianadda, Manguin parmi les Fauves, June - September 1983, no. 61, p. 122 (illustrated).
Saint-Tropez, Musee de l’Annonciade, Kees Van Dongen 1877-1968, July - September 1985, no. 6 (illustrated; titled 'Guus et Dolly portées aux Nues'); this exhibition later travelled to Toulouse, Réfectoire des Jacobins, October - November 1985.
Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans-van Beuningen, Kees van Dongen, December 1989 - February 1990, no. 2 (illustrated).
Paris, Musee d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Van Dongen, Le Peintre 1877-1968, March - June 1990, p. 257 (illustrated p. 101).
Essen, Museum Folkwang, Van Gogh und die Moderne, 1890-1914, August - November 1990, no. 92, p. 255 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, November 1990 - February 1991.
Nagoya, Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art, Fauvism and Modern Japanese Painting, October - December 1992, no. 49, p. 90 (illustrated); this exhibition later travelled to Kyoto, National Museum of Modern Art, January - February 1993 and Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, February - March 1993.
Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, Monet to Matisse: Landscape Painting in France 1874-1914, August - October 1994, no. 164, pp. 105 & 191 (illustrated p. 105; a detail illustrated again and titled 'Guus and Dolly').
Montreal, Musée des beaux-arts, Paradis Perdue: L’Europe symboliste, June - October 1995, no. 443, pp. 312, 361 & 525 (illustrated pl. 444).
Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Fauves, December 1995 - February 1996, no. 37, p. 116 (illustrated p. 117); this exhibition later travelled to Melbourne, National Gallery of Victoria, February - May 1996.
Balingen, Stadthalle, Das Ewig Weibliche, L’Eternel Féminin, von Renoir bis Picasso, June - September 1996, no. 27, p. 37 (illustrated).
Monaco, Salle d’expositions du Quai Antoine-1er, Kees van Dongen, June - September 2008, no. 77, p. 331 (illustrated p. 125); this exhibition later travelled to Montreal, Musée des beaux-arts, January - April 2009 and Rotterdam, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, May - August 2009.
Further details
This work will be included in the forthcoming Van Dongen Digital Catalogue Raisonné, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Plattner Institute, Inc.

Brought to you by

Keith Gill
Keith Gill Head of Department

Lot Essay

Having moved to Paris permanently in 1899, Kees van Dongen spent his first years in the French capital experimenting with his approach to colour, a development brought about by his initial encounters with Fauvism. Like many artists of the era, he was attuned to the history of Postimpressionism, in particular the legacy of Vincent van Gogh. Though the Dutch painter had died more than a decade before, his paintings were finally receiving critical attention and the Salon des Indépendants of 1905 included a retrospective devoted entirely to his work; Van Dongen joined the crowds in paying tribute to his practice. ‘The landscapes in southern light, the exaggerated colours, and the “anarchic” technique, liberated from all convention confirmed… that [the paintings’] importance lay not in the process, but in colour’s great powers of expression’ (A. Hopmans, All Eyes on Kees van Dongen, exh. cat., Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2010, p. 23). This ‘reacquaintance’ prompted artists such as Matisse and André Derain to paint kaleidoscopic landscapes – many of which would become known as the first Fauvist works.
Van Dongen too was encouraged by what he saw in Van Gogh’s work, and he set out to ‘paint the land and sky’ (K. van Dongen, Postcard to C. Scharten, 15 June 1905, reprinted in ibid.). His canvases as well as his Dutch background would ultimately lead to his association with Van Gogh by the press: ‘From Holland comes M. Von Dongen [sic], whose boldness makes one think of Van Gogh’ (C. Saunier, ‘Le Salon des Indépendants’, La Plume, April 1905, p. 333). In search of big, bright skies and countryside views, the artist spent the summer of 1905 in Fleury-en-Bière, a small, picturesque village on the edge of the forest of Fontainebleau near to where the Barbizon painters works. He was joined by his wife Augusta (Guus) Preitinger and infant daughter Guusje who had been born in Paris on 18 April; the family left shortly thereafter in search of more peaceful climes. ‘We are getting a breath of fresh air here in Fleury, which is good for my two Guus,’ he wrote (K. van Dongen in ibid., pp. 21-22). Nuages, ou Guus van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues, the present work, was painted in Fleury-en-Bière.
At a time when the artist consistently turned his gaze outward – first towards the city and its pleasures and then to vast countryside expanses – Nuages, ou Guus van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues is a striking and rare scene of domestic intimacy. Composed of large daubs of vibrant pigment, Van Dongen has painted his wife with their new-born Guusje, later known as Dolly, at her breast; Van Dongen dedicated the painting to his wife on the birth of their daughter. Filling the sky like a shining sun, Guus has become the eternal mother. Below stand a clutch of grain stacks and a small village, perhaps Fleury-en-Bière and another nod to Van Gogh. As Judi Freeman notes, ‘The strategy Van Dongen adopts is wholly symbolist in its juxtaposition of one image with an entirely unrelated one. The combination prompts many questions. Are mother and child dreaming of this place? Does the artist perceive the pair watching over or protecting the landscape? Insofar as the sky dominates the picture as it does in others of the period, what does its luminosity and turbulence portend for the scene below?’ (J. Freeman, Fauves, exh. cat., The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1995, p. 116).
Though an exceptional subject within Van Dongen’s œuvre, the theme of maternity is one rich in art historical precedent. Early representations focussed upon the image of the Madonna and child, a subject taken up by the great Renaissance masters including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. As artists diversified their subject matter and began to depict their contemporary surroundings, images of motherhood became more common – and more daring. Indeed, as the Dutch writer Carl Scharten said in 1905, Van Dongen was extremely ‘modern’ in both subject and approach (C. Scharten quoted in The Van Dongen Nobody Knows: Early Fauvist Drawings 1895-1912, exh. cat., Boijmans Van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam, 1996, p. 62).
If in so many representations of the Madonna, her body ‘appears as a sealed vessel’, in works drawn from real life, this no longer was entirely true (R. Betterton, ‘Maternal Figures: the maternal nude in the work of Käthe Kollowitz and Paula Modersohn Becker’ in G. Pollock, Generations & Geographies in the Visual Arts, London, 1996, p. 167). Instead, argues Rosemary Betterton, ‘the maternal body points to the impossibility of closure, to a liminal state where the boundaries of the body are fluid. In the act of giving birth, as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the body of the mother is in constant exchange with that of the child. Whereas the nude is seamless, the pregnant body signifies the state in which the boundaries of inside and outside, self and other, dissolve’ (ibid.). Such a sense of boundlessness is underscored by Van Dongen’s application of paint wherein the mother and child themselves appear to dissolve.
Indeed, with its palette heightened with tones of rose pink and bright yellow, a dreamlike quality pervades Nuages, ou Guus van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues. Van Dongen’s joy is palpable, evident in his brushstrokes that were ‘put down like a joyous shower of confetti’ (op. cit., Rotterdam, 2010, p. 23). Nuages, ou Guus van Dongen et sa Fille Dolly portées aux Nues is joy incarnate.

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