Isaac Israels (1865-1934)
Isaac Israels (1865-1934)

Café dansant, Moulin de la Galette, Paris

Isaac Israels (1865-1934)
Café dansant, Moulin de la Galette, Paris
signed 'Isaac / Israels' (lower right)
oil on canvas
90 x 110 cm.
Painted circa 1905-1906.
The artist's studio sale; Frederik Muller, Amsterdam, 2 April 1935, lot 68, as: Café-terras.
Mr. J.M.C. Lub, Amsterdam, by 1965.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's Mak van Waay, 24 April 1978, lot 280, as: Café Dansant.
with Kunsthandel Ivo Bouwman, The Hague, by 1980.
Mr. J. van Dijk, Rotterdam, by 1981-1985.
Mrs. Smit-Schulting, Ommen.
with Kunsthandel Mark Smit, Ommen, by 2001, where acquired by the previous owners.
Anna Wagner, Isaac Israels, Amsterdam, 1969, no. 16 (where dated 1905).
Anna Wagner, Isaac Israels, Venlo, 1985, p. 79, no. 85.
Saskia de Bodt, Jeroen Kapelle, John Sillevis, Jop Ubbens, Judith Wesselingh, Isaac Israels, Hollands impressionist, Schiedam, 1999, p. 106, no. 147, as: Café dansant, Moulin de la Galette (where dated 1905-1906).
J.P. Glerum, De Indische Israels, Zwolle, 2005, pp. 26-27 (where dated circa 1906).
Onno Maurer, Gerdy Seegers (a.o.), 2007, pp. 86-87, no. 20.
Arnhem, Gemeentemuseum Arnhem, Vrij en gebonden, 16 May-4 July 1965, as: Caféterras (where dated 1905).
The Hague, Kunsthandel Ivo Bouwman, Isaac Israels, 13 September-13 October 1980, no. 9 (on loan).
Dordrecht, Dordrechts Museum, Isaac Israels, schilderijen, aquarellen, pastels, tekeningen en grafiek, 26 May-28 July 1985, as: Moulin de la Galette.
Rotterdam, Kunsthal, Isaac Israels, Hollands Impressionist, 4 September 1999-9 January 2000, no. 147 (where dated 1905-1906).
Amersfoort, Museum Flehite, Jongkind tot van der Leck, de passie van een collectioneur, Collectie Kamerbeek, 21 January-9 April 2007, no. 20.
Museum De Fundatie, Van Gogh tot Cremer: Nederlandse kunstenaars in Parijs circa 1860-1960, 13 september 2014-4 January 2015.
Gouda, Museum Gouda, Van Michel tot Israels, 2 February-6 December 2015.

Brought to you by

Irena Okoelskaja
Irena Okoelskaja

Lot Essay

Isaac Israels painted his renowned series of Café dansant, Moulin de la Galette in Paris in 1905-1906 when he was at the height of his career. The paintings from this series can been seen as the absolute pinnacle of his oeuvre and the present lot as one of the finest examples of Israels paintings from this Parisian period. He painted at least five large canvases with the same subject matter and numerous smaller paintings and pastels (see: fig. 1 sold at Glerum, Amsterdam, 28 April 1999, lot 110 and fig. 2 sold at Sotheby’s, Amsterdam, 17 April 2000, lot 324). The present lot is a striking example of a Parisian café scene. As Isaac Israels wrote to his friend Henry Asselin (1884-1979), he painted for his own pleasure: 'Je peint pour m'amuser'. His joy is apparent in the way he renders the flurry and commotion of Paris, and the spectacular dynamic of his brushwork, his bold and firm brushstrokes are filled with movement. Although Israels paints with enormous energy, this does not affect the perfection of his composition.

The open-air dancehall and café Moulin de la Galette was a popular spot for artists and writers at the turn of the century. His French colleagues like Pierre-August Renoir (1841-1919), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and his fellow Dutchman Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), who he greatly admired, were frequent visitors and translated their impressions in numerous important paintings capturing true Parisian culture. The Moulin de la Galette was one of several windmills located on the Butte Montmartre. Inside, one could sit and eat its famous cakes, while outside there was an open-air eating and dancing area where the locals came and danced on Sundays, along with a variety of students and artists. Entrance was free for all women at Le Moulin, including those with looser morals. Intrigued by the mixed character of this vivacious and cheerful crowd, this place was a great inspiration for many artists. Renoir was one of the first Impressionists who painted his famous Dance at le Moulin de la Galette in 1876 (Collection: Musée d’Orsay, Paris) and showed his painting at the Impressionist exhibition of 1877. The art critic Georges Rivière (1855-1943), a good friend of Renoir, wrote a review about the painting: '… a page of history, a precious and strictly accurate portrayal of Parisian life’.

From the late 1870's Isaac Israels had travelled to Paris annually with his family, in order to visit the Salon des Artistes. Through these visits, and through later trips with his close friend the essayist Frans Erens (1857-1935), Isaac became familiar with new and innovative Parisian artists and writers including Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1902), Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) and Emile Zola (1840-1902). Together with Erens, he became acquainted with the artistic currents of his time as well as with several French celebrities in Paris in 1889. Israels found his own individual style of painting around 1890 and would be remembered as a Dutch impressionist who was an equal to most of his French contemporaries. In 1887 he had moved from The Hague to Amsterdam, where he was quickly accepted by the circle of the Eighties Movement ('de Tachtigers'), a group of likeminded, progressive artists and writers. Following the death of his mother in 1894 he travelled to Spain and North-Africa in the company of his father and Erens. Back in Amsterdam in October of the same year, he was granted a license to place his easel on the streets in order to study city life en plein air. In June 1903 Israels left Amsterdam for Paris where he was introduced at the important fashion-house Paquin. In a letter to Miss G.H. Marius he writes: 'Ik ben (...) hoofdzakelijk naar Parijs gegaan, omdat ik daar een goed introductie had bij een groot couturier, en zoo komt men van het een tot het ander.'

At first Israels resided in the Hotel Le Peletier on the Rue Petit Champs. After that summer he decided to stay in Paris, where he lived for the following ten years. Isaac has a fluent command of the French language, and according to sources, he even had a Parisian accent. During these Parisian years Israels spent time with various other Dutch artists including Marius Bauer (1867-1932), Kees van Dongen (1887-1968) and Jan Toorop (1858-1928). He found a studio on the Boulevard de Clichy no. 9. In that period he turned his impressions of the artistic Parisian atmosphere into numerous dynamic paintings, watercolours, pastels and drawings. For his subject matter he was mainly inspired by the beauty of the young 'Parisiennes', whom he encountered in parks like the Bois de Boulogne and Parc Monceau, restaurants such as Le Perroquet and the café-chantants like the Moulin Rouge and the Moulin de la Galette.

The present lot is a great example of Israels' mature painterly style, which had fully developed during his Parisian years. The enormous joy that cosmopolitan Paris gave him, the hustle and bustle and dynamic atmosphere lifted his work to new heights. The bright, colourful pallet and attractive mundane motives of his Parisian period are very much evident in the present painting. The couple’s flirtatious glances lure the spectator into the scene. Isaac did not paint with the purpose of a detailed finish, rather conveying the subject and impression remained most important. This was in stark contrast to the French impressionists, who were more concerned with portraying elaborate effects of light, sun and colour. While his work was very 'French' for Dutch standards, his palette was considerably darker than most of his French impressionist contemporaries. The present lot is typical of this period in his use of a relatively light palette delivered with using strong rapid brushstrokes.

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