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Kees Van Dongen (1877-1968)
Femme nue
signed 'Van Dongen' (upper right); signed again and inscribed 'Van Dongen 23 bis avenue de la Celle a Garches (setto) Mlle R.B.' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
25 5/8 x 21 3/8 in. (65.1 x 54.4 cm.)
Painted circa 1930
Yokohama, Sogo Museum, and Nagoya City Museum, Les Artistes Entragers à Partis, April-July 1986.

Lot Essay

Jacques Chalom Des Cordes will include this painting in the forthcoming Van Dongen catalogue raisonné being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Kees van Dongen's paintings captured the exuberant spirit of the 1920s and 1930s which he commended by saying, "I passionately love the life of my time, so animated, so feverish" (quoted in Cornelis Theodorus Marie van Dongen, exh. cat., University of Arizona, 1971, p. 46). His pictures of fashionable society figures and views of popular resorts and European cities were highly sought after. Socially, he was in demand as well, throwing lavish parties which were reported in the press and travelling often to Monte Carlo, Deauville, Venice and other favored spots of the beau monde.

During these years, Van Dongen made a substantial living from his portrait commissions but he continued to work independently on paintings of the female nude. The uncompromising frontal pose and the bold sensuality of the present painting are suggestive of his earlier treatment of the subject. "He made no secret of the fact that he liked painting women...He was anxious to render the long line of a woman trained by sport, with large eyes, long lashes, satin or opaque skin" (ibid., p. 50). However, while his earlier Fauve paintings had portrayed cabaret artists and women of the demi-monde, his models from this period are from a more sophisticated milieu. Gone are the garish colors and raw brushwork that Van Dongen had used to emphasize the unfortunate condition of his earlier subjects. In their place there is a softening of palette and a refinement of technique.

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