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fête au temple (Party at The Temple)

te au temple (Party at The Temple)
signed ‘le mayeur’ (lower right); signed again ‘le mayeur’ (bottom edge); inscribed and titled 'fête au temple' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
90 x 110 cm (35? 3⁄8 x 43?1/4 in.)
Painted circa late 1940s
Private Collection, Asia
The work is accompanied with a certificate of authenticity by Dr Jop Ubbens and the painting will be included in the Le Mayeur Archive (LMA)

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Lot Essay

‘The paintings are like doors flung open suddenly to reveal something shocking. Because they are so energetic they might also be viewed as moments of a movie whose sudden arrest causes the mind’s eye to trip over itself in its own voracity, tangling in dense webs of coloured light, striving to mark order of intense and disordered sensations’ - Robert Evrén

The artist is a typical example of a so-called traveller-painter in the tradition of famous predecessors like the Italy- goers in the 17th century, the Grand Tour painters in the 18th and 19th century but foremost Gauguin, certainly one of his source for inspiration, who left France for Martinique and Tahiti. They all had one very important thing in common; they were in search for new subject matters and exotic sunny bright light for their compositions.

Le Mayeur travelled first of all in a very extensive way through several countries in Europe, for instance Venice in Italy, Saint Tropez in France and later, in the 1930’s he even made trips to India (Jaipur, Benares and Udaipur),and Madagascar ( Nossi Be)o in Africa and in the footsteps of Paul Gauguin to Tahiti. His long journeys to all these different countries and continents is possibly the main reason for his relative obscurity in his homeland Belgium. He only came back to his native country to die in 1958. As a matter of fact hardly anybody knows that he is, from an international perspective, with the Surrealist Magritte and Modern artist James Ensor one of the most expensive Belgian painters on the art market.

This mainly counts for his Balinese renderings he executes more or less from 1932 onwards when he set his first steps on Sanur Beach, Bali. When Christie’s in Singapore started their first Southeast Asian Art sales at the Hyatt Hotel in 1994 - two Indonesian works by the then rather anonymous Le Mayeur were auctioned and immediately fetched world auction records. Nowadays his grand Balinese scenes can easily achieve high prices at auction. The current world record was achieved by Christie’s in May 2016 in Hong Kong for a large format lotus pond painting.

In these earliest times he wasn’t featuring in any lexicon of any kind. So Drs Cathinka Huizing and I took up the idea in 1992-93 to write a monography which came out in December 1995, and is still regarded, although not complete anymore, as the magnum opus on life and works of Le Mayeur de Merpres. And more than half of the pages in the book are devoted to his life with his muse and in the end only model, the beautiful and attractive Legong dancer, Ni Pollok (who died in 1986) in their very romantic Sanur dwelling. During about 25 years, from 1932-1958, Le Mayeur composed his late- Impressionist very sought after Balinese topics; the lotus pond, the beach, the interior of the house or the garden.

This present work offered at auction by Christie’s Hong Kong is, in my opinion, such a marvellous and wonderful example of a large (100 x 120 cm) Balinese image where Ni Pollok in four various depictions gathers around the iconic lotus pond in the Sanur garden. The painting, judging from a stylistic point of view, probably dates from the late 1940’s to 1950 and is comparable to for instance number 257 page 163 in the Le Mayeur book “Pollok bathing in a pond”.

This colourful and in pasty layers painted Lotus Pond is without any doubt a very well executed work by the artist and is in a mint condition. The work is depicted in one of his best and mature period and therefor a highlight within the oeuvre of the artist.

This work will be included and registered in the Le Mayeur Archive.

Drs Jop Ubbens Co-author, Adrien-Jean Le Mayeur de Merprès, Painter-Traveller/Schilder-Reiziger

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